BOARD OF REGISTRATIONS AND ELECTIONS, HALL COUNTY: AUGUST 18TH, 2015 SPECIAL WORK SESSION

In attendance:

Gabriel Shippy (Board Member, D)

Kenneth Cochran (Board Member, R)

Thomas Sandoval (Board Member, R)

Kimberly Copeland (Board Member, D)

…..

Charlotte Sosebee (Chief Registrar & Director of Elections)

Terenda Sargent (Recording Clerk)

Randy Knighton (County Administrator)

Alex Ramirez (Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials)

Kelli Persons (Program Manager, League of Women Voters)

Individuals who appear to be poll workers

Introduction

The meeting was called to discuss precinct consolidations. As justification for the closures, the board noted high early and absentee voting turnout at the precincts that are to be consolidated.

The next board meeting, during which the board will vote on the proposed consolidations to reduce the amount of precincts from thirty-five (35) to thirty (30), will be on September 1st.

Consolidations

Gainesville 1 [combined]:

  • Old Gainsville 1
  • Riverbend

Gainesville 2:

  • Two thousand two hundred and seventy-nine (2,279) eligible voters
  • No changes

Gainesville 3:

  • Four thousand two hundred sixteen (4,216) voters
  • No changes

Gainesville 4:

  • Two thousand three hundred and seventy three (2,373) voters
  • No changes
  • contracts signed for 2015, 2016, 2017 elections

Gainesville 5:

  • One thousand four hundred and sixty five (1,465) voters
  • No changes

Glade/New Holland [combined]:

  • New Holland: currently one thousand eight hundred and forty-two (1,842) voters
  • Glade: currently one thousand one hundred ninety-two (1,192) voters

Gillsville:

  • No changes due to “fairly small community [that likes] their community location”

Big Hickory:

  • Chairperson Sosebee expressed concerns that the location was chosen prior to the 2006 election, which is outside of the precinct boundary lines.
  • Proposal:
    • send everyone from Big Hickory to Northlake Baptist Church
    • send Bark Camp voters to the location they have for Murville

Friendship 1:

  • Six thousand (6000) voters

Friendship 2:

  • Approximately three thousand sixty-two (3,062) voters

Friendship 3:

  • Three thousand three hundred twenty-eight (3,328) voters

Friendship 1/2/3/(and the new Friendship 4) plan

  • Move Prince of Peace precinct to Celebration Baptist Church (4.63 miles away) due to availability concerns
  • New location would serve parts of 1, 2, and 3
  • Some voters from Friendship 1 and 3 will be sent to Friendship 2
  • Friendship 2 proposal:
    • move the Friendship Elementary precinct to Spout Springs Library (5.8 miles away) 
    • Friendship 2 (currently 3,062) would gain:
      • approximately One thousand ninety-one (1,091) voters from Friendship 1 (currently 6k)
      • approximately One hundred eighty-seven (187) voters from Friendship 3 (currently 3,328)
  • Friendship 3 proposal:
    • change precinct location from David Middle School to Mulberry Creek Community Center (2.18 miles away)

Conclusion

Chairperson Sosebee wrapped up her presentation and speculated that if Hall County reduces the amount of precincts from the current thirty-five (35) to thirty (30), the estimated cost of covering the November 2015 elections will decrease from thirty thousand, four hundred and fifty dollars ($30,450) to twenty-six thousand, two hundred and twenty-eight dollars ($26,228), making for a total savings of four thousand, two hundred and twenty-two dollars ($4,222) in payroll every election, not to mention money saved from extra machinery and workers that will no longer be needed at the precincts currently operating past ideal maximum capacity.

Chairperson Sosebee continued on that four thousand dollars ($4,000) in savings over the course of seven (7) elections would result in significant, aggregate savings.

Chairperson Sosebee also mentioned managers-in-training that could effectively function as “spare tires” substituting in if any of the poll managers get sick.

Public Comment

Kelli Persons (Program Manager, League of Women Voters):

  • Commented that two Morgan locations are close to the Friendship zone
  • Suggested keeping the Morgan precincts open and shifting some voters from the Friendship precincts into the Morgan precincts instead of moving the lines and combining the two Morgan precincts

Board Response:

  • Not an option because of the makeup of the precinct populations
  • Both Morgan precincts are too small for their locations
  • Combining them is the best option

The poll workers present were not concerned about consolidation of thirty-five (35) precincts to thirty (30). The managers have been stretched extremely thin and haven’t been able to spend the amount of time they should at each location. As of yet the new managers cannot be left completely unsupervised; they still need some assistance from the current managers. According to the poll workers present, closing the precincts would not only save the county money but also reduce risk for the county because the poll managers have less work to do and fewer locations to cover.

One of the poll managers suggested to Chairperson Sosebee that she set up a Hall County Elections Facebook page so that the public can easily get elections notifications/reminders to their phones.

Member Shippy asked Valerie (presumably a poll manager) if she had any concerns about the precincts being overcrowded, post-consolidations, and the effect that might have in terms of additional stress on the poll workers.

Valerie responded no and reiterated that the proposed changes would only help poll workers and managers. They would have more machines at each location and managers would be able to visit new managers more often.

The board will vote on these consolidations September 1st.

If the proposed changes pass, the number of churches being used will be reduced from twenty-three (23) to twenty (20). The board will save approximately two thousand, five hundred and twenty-eight dollars ($2,528) even if church janitorial fees are increased from one hundred dollars ($100) to two hundred dollars ($200) (which the board and Chairperson Sosebee agree is fair).

In the meantime, Chairperson Sosebee wants the board to consider opening additional advance voting sites. Sosebee wants to open polls the second and third Saturdays prior to an election in all elections and at three locations (Government Center, North Hall community center, and Mulberry and Creek community center) to cut down on voters on Election Day.

Per this suggested plan, the Government Center would be open the entire twenty-one (21) days of early voting. The two additional, prior mentioned locations would only be open on the second and third Saturdays prior to an election.

8.18.15 Hall County Special Work Session Agenda

Hall County Voting Districts (Total)

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