Controversial project gains more than 100K signatures, officials release next steps

Atlanta officials released an outline of next steps now that an organized group of detractors of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, which is under construction on land in DeKalb County, have collected more than 104,000 signatures to place a referendum to vote for or against the project on the November ballots.

In an email from the office of Atlanta’s municipal clerk, Atlanta officials stated there would be four steps to “unequivocally ensure the integrity and the security of the verification process,” with City Clerk Emeritus Foris Webb III helping to supervise the process. Those steps include:

• A petition intake process where the city clerk will establish how many boxes of signature pages have been turned in and seal them in front of the petitioners before then taking the sealed boxes to a secure vault in the clerk’s office where they will be kept until they are scanned.

• A scanning process where each box will be individually opened and its contents scanned to make an electronic image of each page (the petitioners will be provided with a full copy of the scanned documents, stated officials).
• A manual review and verification process where “completed lines will be reviewed to determine a) whether the name and other information present identifies and corresponds to a uniquely qualified Atlanta voter and if so b) whether those signatures match that of the unique voter.” This review will rely on the state voter registration database, according to officials.

• A public comment/inquiry process where “the city will not comment on the review once it begins,” stated officials. “Once the process is complete, all submitted pages will be available under the Georgia Open Records Act for the public and the city will then resume dialogue.”

After the release of the next steps, organizers with Vote to Stop Cop City and Kendra Cotton, CEO of New Georgia Project Action Fund, a nonprofit “dedicated to growing political engagement in historically underrepresented communities,” according to its website, used social media to express concerns with a process they called “harmful to voters.”

“Signature matching is a tool of voter suppression – plain and simple,” said Cotton. “How a Democratic mayor and a city council in a majority-Democratic city have chosen to take up a tactic that Republicans themselves have said ‘non’ [should this be ‘no’?] to is outrageous. In fact, the Democratic party itself brought a lawsuit against signature match in 2019 after it was used unevenly in the 2018 gubernational election.”

Cotton went on to say that Atlanta’s guidelines fail to outline how voters could address and correct any issues that may arise during the verification process.

“The city council and mayor should immediately rescind this process and replace it with one built on sound, fair, and transparent procedures that give the voters who put them in office a shot at determining the future of their communities,” Cotton concluded.

Atlanta officials said they will “meet the requirements of the law” throughout the verification process while “building public confidence and trust.”

“The signature verification process may be a critical element,” said Atlanta Interim Municipal Clerk Vanessa Waldon. “We are committed to a transparent process.”

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One thought on “Controversial project gains more than 100K signatures, officials release next steps

  • September 8, 2023 at 11:12 pm

    Of course they oppose signature match! No surprise here. Would be a shame if too many of those signatures turned out to be forgeries.


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