Terry Tucker re­signs as CEO of Fam­i­lies First

Non­prof­its need to work with gov­ern­ment, pri­vate sec­tor, he says.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - METRO - By She­lia M. Poole spoole@ajc.com

Terry Tucker has stepped down as CEO of Fam­i­lies First, al­most a year to the day he started at the At­lanta non­profit.

Tucker, 43, told The At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion that he re­signed on Mon­day to pur­sue other en­deav­ors that will likely keep him in­volved in the com­mu­nity.

“It’s re­ally about where I wanted to spend my time,” said Tucker, who suc­ceeded Kim Anderson as CEO in 2017.

“The so­lu­tion will re­quire more than non­prof­its work­ing in iso­la­tion,” he said.

“You need gov­ern­ment, non­prof­its and the pri­vate sec­tor joined to­gether in solv­ing these com­plex prob­lems. That’s the whole rea­son for the tran­si­tion for me. You have to bring a big­ger group to­gether.”

Fam­i­lies First is a non­profit that pro­motes fam­ily self-suf- fi­ciency and helps pro­vide sta­ble homes for chil­dren through adop­tion and fos­ter­care. Ser­vices in­clude par­ent­ing classes, ed­u­ca­tion sup­port, coun­sel­ing ser­vices and sup­port­ive hous­ing.

Fam­i­lies First started in 1890 as an or­phan­age on the West­side of the city on what is now the Spel­man cam­pus.

Tucker, who said he has al­ways been an “en­tre­pre­neur­ial per­son,” praised the work of Fam­i­lies First but said it was best to leave the po­si­tion to some­one who could fo­cus solely on the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Fam­i­lies First is form­ing a search com­mit­tee to vet can­di­dates for the CEO po­si­tion.

“In the mean­time, Fam­i­lies First con­tin­ues to fo­cus on our mis­sion of serv­ing our clients and help­ing fam­i­lies and chil-

strated their prod­ucts to the Se­cure, Ac­ces­si­ble & Fair Elec­tions Com­mis­sion, a group of law­mak­ers, elec­tion di­rec­tors and vot­ers who are re­view­ing the state’s op­tions be­fore mak­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion to the Ge­or­gia Gen­eral As­sem­bly for a re­place­ment vot­ing sys­tem.

About 100 peo­ple, in­clud­ing com­mis­sion mem­bers, com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tives, law­mak­ers, se­cu­rity ad­vo­cates and con­cerned cit­i­zens, turned out for the meet­ing at the Columbia County Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter.

Sev­eral of the vot­ing sys­tems re­lied on tech­nol­ogy called bal­lot-mark­ing de­vices.

Vot­ers would make their choices on tablet-size or larger touch­screens. When they’re done, a pa­per bal­lot would be printed. Then vot­ers would insert the bal­lot into an op­ti­cal scan­ning ma­chine for tab­u­la­tion.

Ge­or­gia’s cur­rent elec­tion com­pany, Elec­tion Sys­tems & Soft­ware, em­pha­sized that its vot­ing sys­tem would be safe and ac­cu­rate. Its bal­lot-mark­ing de­vices were tested in Cony­ers last fall.

But vot­ing in­tegrity ad­vo­cates say only ver­i­fi­able, hand-marked pa­per bal­lots can be trusted. They say that hav­ing a com­puter fill out bal­lots and print them out along with bar codes to make them read­able by tab­u­la­tion com­put­ers could make them vul­ner­a­ble to tam­per­ing.

“You aren’t just buy­ing a piece of hard­ware. You need to know how the com­pany is ad­dress­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns,” said Kathy Rogers of ES&S. “Bar codes are fast and ac­cu­rate.”

She said scan­ners that at­tempt to read printed bal­lots are more likely to make er­rors.

The com­pany that pro­posed a hand-marked pa­per bal­lot, Clear Bal­lot, said it’s the most direct re­flec­tion of vot­ers’ choices.

“Hav­ing an iden­ti­cal pa­per bal­lot for ev­ery voter that came into the polls is the best form of se­cu­rity that you could have,” said Bill Mur­phy, the direc­tor of sales for Clear Bal­lot.

Hart In­terCivic pro­posed us­ing printed bal­lots, but not with bar codes that in­clude in­for­ma­tion about vot­ers’ choices.

“We do not read a black box to de­ter­mine the can­di­dates and who you voted for,” said Dwayne Brox­ton, the regional sales direc­tor for Hart In­terCivic.

Vot­ers should be able to see a printed bal­lot and re­view it be­fore it’s cast, said Wes Wag­ner of Unisyn Vot­ing So­lu­tions, which is also propos­ing a bal­lot-mark­ing de­vice for Ge­or­gia’s vot­ing sys­tem.

“If they like their choices and they’re sat­is­fied, they’re sim­ply go­ing to lay their bal­lot into a slot like a dol­lar bill into a soda ma­chine,” Wag­ner said. “You can see it right there at the time of in­ser­tion.”

Most vot­ing com­pa­nies were re­luc­tant to say how much their sys­tems would cost the tax­pay­ers of Ge­or­gia. Es­ti­mates start at $20 mil­lion and rise to more than $100 mil­lion. The ex­pense of vot­ing sys­tems will be­come more clear when the state gov­ern­ment so­lic­its bids from com­pa­nies early next year — and when leg­is­la­tors con­sider a bill to change the state’s vot­ing sys­tem.

The vot­ing ma­chines from Smart­matic would read the words printed on the bal­lot, not bar codes.

“We’re do­ing op­ti­cal char­ac­ter recog­ni­tion on that tape and tab­u­lat­ing it,” said Ed Smith of Smart­matic.

The last com­pany to present its vot­ing tech­nol­ogy would cre­ate a printed bal­lot that vot­ers could see through a plas­tic screen, but they couldn’t touch it for up-close re­view.

“They can’t put their hands on it, but they can look at it through the win­dow,” said Eric Coomer of Domi­non Vot­ing.

Ge­or­gia Sec­re­tary of State Brian Kemp, who cre­ated the SAFE Com­mis­sion, said it’s clear to him that any re­place­ment elec­tion sys­tem should in­clude a pa­per record of votes.

“I like the idea of hav­ing a ver­i­fi­able pa­per au­dit trail. I’ve said that many, many times,” said Kemp, a Repub­li­can run­ning for gover­nor against Demo­crat Stacey Abrams. “We’ll just let the com­mis­sion and the Leg­is­la­ture see what’s avail­able” be­fore mak­ing a choice next year.

Former Fam­i­lies First CEO Terry Tucker

BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Wes Wag­ner of Unisyn Vot­ing So­lu­tions shows mem­bers of the Se­cure, Ac­ces­si­ble & Fair Elec­tions Com­mis­sion how his com­pany’s soft­ware can ac­cu­rately record hand writ­ten mil­i­tary ab­sen­tee bal­lots.

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