Note: the work session at 4:30pm was supposed to be open to the public. It was held in executive session for almost the entirety of the meeting, fifty-five minutes out of a total hour.
Kathy Ransom (Chair, I)
Nancy Stephens (Vice Chair, R)
Linda Clayton (Member, D)
Robert Ingram (Member, D)
Jim Youmans (Secretary, R)
Tiffany Medlock (Elections Supervisor)
Additions to the agenda
- As discussed between Chair Ransom and Attorney Grant (the board’s attorney), Member Youmans is in need of a laptop. Chair Ransom: it would be a good idea for us to have a laptop dedicated to the Secretary for the board of elections. I think we should purchase a laptop for the board of elections for the Secretary’s use.
- Due to the volume of work Attorney Grant has, to hire Vice Chair Stephens to assist her as needed at a $10/hr rate.
- From the audience: “they need to post the job!”
- Vice Chair Stephens: “I don’t want to get paid.”
- Chair Ransom: “let’s discuss that later”
- Approval for KSU certification training for the new Deputy Clerk Nubia Baker and myself (Chair Ransom) the first week in February.
Chair Ransom discusses the hiring of Nubia Baker, the new deputy clerk for the board of elections. Chair Ransom praises the new hire.
The board has implemented EasyVote for upcoming elections.
Chair Ransom: we had the executive session during our work session.
Elections Supervisor Report
Reiterates what Chair Ransom noted in her Chair Report.
Elections Supervisor Medlock: the Finance Director can’t close out the year’s record until the bills from 2015 all arrive. We’re still waiting on a few bills to arrive, so we can account for and pay them.
- 2016 Presidential Election Year Update—Elections Supervisor Medlock
- Early voting starts February 8th. We’ve updated all the PPP dates on the calendar.
- Memo BOER Attorney Grant
- Chair Ransom: “Attorney Grant was unable to complete her memo. So, we’re moving on from this [topic].”
- Bylaws – Meetings – Policy and Procedure
- Vice Chair Stephens points out a section of the current bylaws which says: a call meeting can be made by the Chair or three members of the board. The Chair or the Vice Chair has to be included at that meeting.
- Vice Chair Stephens points out: if they [the Chair or the Vice Chair] don’t agree to have the call meeting, that conflicts with the idea that three members of the board can call the meeting.
- Chair Ransom says: I think it would be violative of our oath if we ignored the call of three of the board members for us not to attend that meeting. If they wish to call a meeting, we need to be there.
- Vice Chair Stephens: okay. I just wanted to make sure.
- Vice Chair Stephens moves that the board move to have this item (the Bylaws) continued until the next regular meeting so that the board members have a chance to review the revised bylaws. Member Clayton seconds the motion.
- Vice Chair Position
- Chair Ransom: recommends to the board that Vice Chair Stephens be removed from the board under article 6.5, which states that any individual holding a position on the board can make a motion to remove a board member from an elected position.
- Vice Chair Stephens: Under article 6.3, it lists the position of Vice Chair and the associated duties. The article states that, in the absence of a noted disability, the Vice Chair shall have all the duties of the chairman. Vice Chair Stephens hasn’t had to do anything this year, so she’s wondering which of her duties she’s violated, to justify her removal as Vice Chair.
- Chair Ransom: there wasn’t a violation of a duty per say. If there was an instance in which I couldn’t perform my duties, I think it would be in the best interest of the board to have someone else [not you, Vice Chair Stephens] ready to step in and fulfill my duties.
- Vice Chair Stephens: so, I haven’t violated my duties?
- Chair Ransom: no
- Member Ingram: the best interests of the board must be served by the position. In my opinion, a matter of attitude could be relevant to this. I don’t think there needs to be a specific violation of duties to justify removing someone from this post. I think it isn’t in our best interests as a board to have Vice Chair Stephens serve as Vice Chair.
- Motion made by Chair Ransom. Seconded by Member Clayton. Members Ingram and Clayton voted “aye.” Member Youmans abstained. Vice Chair Stephens voted “no.” The motion carried.
- Chair Ransom: I now move to elect Member Youmans as Vice Chair.
- Member Stephens: that’s not on the agenda.
- Member Ingram: the filling of the position isn’t on the agenda. But “Vice Chair Position” is on the agenda. I think it appropriately fits under that heading to elect a new Vice Chair.
- Motion to appoint Member Youmans as Vice Chair. Seconded by Member Clayton. Members Youmans, Ingram and Clayton vote aye. Member Stephens abstains.
- Report—Board Member Stephens
- Member Stephens: this was supposed to be on the agenda as the “Vice Chair Report.” As long as we request that something be added to the agenda within 10 days before the meeting, it is added to the agenda by the Chair. The fact that this item number is labeled “Board Member Stephens” and not “Vice Chair Report” indicates to me that this [her removal from the board] has been in the works for some time.
- A lot of the board believes that I’ve been pretty hard on a lot of the mistakes coming out of the office. My career in collections in IRS caused me to have a lot of experience with tracking people down. If I made an error, that could cause immediate ramifications to taxpayers. I couldn’t afford to make an error with these kinds of repercussions. I was the “buck stops here” person. I had to calm these taxpayers down and resolve their issues. I’m telling you this because it is very important to me that we do a good job. Since the election of 2004 through the 2015 city election, I’ve reviewed many election results. I’ve never made a decision based on the color of a voters skin.
- Review—Concerns Brought by Board Member Stephens
- Chair Ransom: Member Stephens was concerned about some errors that she found. We had some discussions. Part of her concerns has to do with agendas, timings, and open meetings.
- I’m going to ask that the staff watch a video on the Georgia Code as it applies to our work. The laws as they relate to open meetings and open records is about the citizens. It’s about ensuring that we do our job in a transparent manner.
- Meetings Motion Notebook—Board Member Clayton
- Member Clayton created the Motion Notebook, to tag all the motions that were made and how each member has voted, from 2011 to term. There were some motions where it’s unclear how the board member voted. If the motion passed, I put it in the Motion Notebook.
- Member Stephens: I do have some concerns. I copied the Motions Notebook because I wanted them to refer to during meetings. I was looking for a motion during an October 2011 meeting. When I looked at the October 6th meeting notes, six motions had been put down but the wording had been changed and five motions had not been recorded.
- I also wanted to look at the October 20th meeting. That meeting wasn’t in the notebook at all, and there were two motions in that meeting.
- Member Stephens: “We have a lot of work to do on that meetings notebook.”
- Member Clayon: I’d like to note that you [Member Clayton] took those notes. Are your minutes different than the minutes notebook you created for the office [Member Stephens]?
- Chair Ransom: this record is for our use. [Read: let’s not bicker about the state of the notes.]
- Vice Chair Youmans: we also need to note that these are the only meeting notes we have, after the fire. The public should be on notice that these are most likely unassailable but that they are to be used for reference only.
- Equipment Purchase
- Elections Supervisor Medlock provided a list of equipment she’d like to purchase in order to conduct the elections. The majority of the cost is just purchasing the keypads for the VREs, so that if we have someone who needs to use the hearing assistance equipment, we have that.
- Member Stephens: the things like the headphones and some of the things lost in the fire, could that potentially be covered by insurance?
- Elections Supervisor Medlock: we’re still not sure what will and won’t be covered by insurance.
- Member Stephens move that we purchase these items because “we need them for the election.” Passes unanimously.
- City of Sparta Bill
- Elections Supervisor Medlock: I’ve included the bill in your packet. The cost for delivery of the equipment, which was the intergovernmental equipment, the overtime hours for me on Election Day, etc. Total is $117. At this time, the City of Sparta is going to continue with an election.
- Chair Ransom: we don’t really need to make a motion on this because this is an ongoing issue with the city.
- Purchase of a laptop for the Secretary of the BOER
- Chair Ransom: the Secretary of the board needs a laptop dedicated to the work of the board.
- Member Stephens: about how much is that going to cost?
- Vice Chair Youmans: about 700 dollars.
- Member Ingram expresses concern that Chris Calloway, the IT technician for the board, had access to the system when he was tooling with the remote access program. He harkens to the Secretary of State’s release of the confidential information of 6 million voters in late 2015 and notes that the board needs to exercise caution in granting system access to non-board members.
- Vice Chair Youmans will research laptop cost and present an invoice to the board at the next meeting.
- To hire Member Stephens to assist Attorney Grant at $10/hr.
- Chair Ransom: Member Stephens has the necessary skills and time to assist Attorney Grant.
- Chair Stephens: I really think it’s a conflict of interest that I get paid.
- Chair Ransom moves that the board hires Member Stephens at $10/hr., as needed. Member Ingram and Vice Chair Youmans vote aye. Member Clayton votes nay. The vote passes.
- Chair Ransom and Deputy Clerk Baker attending KSU training in Macon
- Unanimous approval of the motion to send these two individuals to the training
Comments from Citizens
- Robin Rhodes: wanted to ask the Chairperson what is the 4,000 pages to be reviewed by Member Stephens and Attorney Grant.
- Chair Ransom: litigation documents
- Don Bevell: I’m not very proud of this board tonight. I think you’ve done a wrong and shameful thing to a good, honest woman.
- Another citizen: In response to that last comment, I think the board has made a wise decision and we respect the board for it. *a number of other audience members voice agreement*
- Sarah Patello: could we go over when the board was discussing getting the minutes from one computer system and paper minutes and how that ties in with Mr. Youmans inputting his notes in the meeting…is there remote access for other people to get into the minutes of these meetings and how are you all accessing information from the system?
- Vice Chair Youmans: the issue of October 2011 was prior to us even utilizing digital storage of information. Since I became a member of the board in January 2013, everything has been digital. As far as public access to them, we are positively going to have all of our minutes and agendas and other affiliated documents wide open on our website, which is under construction.
- Patello: is there anyone else who can access this information?
- Vice Chair Youmans: aside from the staff, no. But you can file an open records request.
- Patello: specifically I’m talking about remote access.
- Vice Chair Youmans: the only time I ever used that “team viewer” (?) was to transmit a file that was too large to email. I sent it to one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit ongoing
- Angela Tucker Brown: will you be electing a Secretary at a later date or will Mr. Youmans continue to fill that position, in addition to the Vice Chair position?
- Chair Ransom: yes