BOARD OF REGISTRATIONS AND ELECTIONS, HANCOCK COUNTY: APRIL 28TH, 2016 MEETING

In attendance:

Kathy Ransom (Chair)

Jim Youmans (Vice Chair, Secretary, R)

Linda Clayton (Member, D)

Robert Ingram (Member, D)

Nancy Stephens (Member, R)

…..

Tiffany Medlock (Elections Supervisor)

 Approval of Minutes of Previous Meetings

  1. March 10th Work Session Meeting Minutes

There were many problems with the March 1st election and once these minutes are approved, there’s nothing on the record, aside from this short report [referring to a brief write-up, authored by Supervisor Medlock, which Members Stephens and Clayton imply is not a complete accounting of the issues] showing what the problems were, and there was extensive discussion during some of these meetings. And I’d like that included in the minutes, so that people know that there were problems and that we addressed them.

Vice Chair Youmans: I don’t think work session minutes need to be more than one line per item [discussed]. [Note: a large portion of the discussion about the E-Day issues happened during the regular work session that precedes most Hancock Board of Elections meetings.]

Approved March 10 work session minutes. Three ayes: Chair Ransom, Vice Chair Youmans, Member Ingram. Two nays: Member Stephens, Member Clayton.

  1. March 10th Regular Meeting Minutes

Member Stephens: presents a motion that the March 10th regular meeting minutes are also not approved until after they’re reviewed and any discussion during that meeting of the March 1st election problems are included.

Member Clayton: seconds the motion. What Ms. Stephens is trying to say is that this is Tiffany’s documentation [the brief report of the issues that is currently included in the meeting minutes up for approval]. This is what she chose to write. We want to document the problems that we had at the March 1st election. This [the brief report authored by Supervisor Medlock] was picked & chosen [cherry-picked]. We’ve got errors [stemming from the March 1st election] that we haven’t even discussed.

Vice Chair Youmans: I see no gap here [between the report and what was actually discussed].

Approved March 10 regular meeting minutes. Three ayes: Chair Ransom, Vice Chair Youmans, Member Ingram. Two nays: Member Stephens, Member Clayton.

  1. Thursday, April 7th Called Meeting Minutes:

Member Stephens: moves that “the April 7th meeting minutes not be approved until they are reviewed and any discussion of election problems from the March 1st, 2016 be added to the minutes, as it appears that the board is trying to cover up problems in the election and not be open to the public about these problems.”

Member Ingram: asks Member Stephens if there are any discretions that she knows of that she wants to address

Member Stephens: there are quite a few that were discussed in the meeting and that aren’t in the minutes

Vice Chair Youmans: I can think of [only] two right offhand. You’re always gonna’ get some feedback when you write the minutes, and the central issue is always objectivity versus subjectivity. “What to leave in versus what to leave out.” There was one discussion involving Ms. Stephens that was honestly embarrassing and not worth using the ink in the printer to record it.

Member Stephens: this entire board is responsible for how elections are handled. If the State Election Board decides we’ve done something wrong, we’re the ones the State Election Board is gonna’ call. We’re the ones that are gonna’ get fined. The Secretary of State’s office already knows that there were a bunch of problems with this election. And we have minutes here that touch on some of it and don’t touch on a lot of it. If I were a State Election Board member, it would look to me like: “what are they trying to hide?” If we made mistakes, they need to be in the minutes so the public knows these mistakes were made. That has been going on for quite a while now. There have been decisions made by the Chair, where the board was not involved, and things are left out of the minutes on purpose. And this has been going on for quite some time.

Vice Chair Youmans: to make the innuendo that this board has been involved in any kind of cover up to me is sickening. This is the most open board. These situations have been discussed [in public meetings] and somebody can get the audio [and hear all about them].

Approved April 7 special call meeting minutes. Three ayes: Chair Ransom, Vice Chair Youmans, Member Ingram. Two nays: Member Stephens, Member Clayton.

Chair Report

Chair Ransom: I believe it is vitally important for the board to continue to work on its regular business [after a few months break to attend to “other matters,” which occurred from late 2015 until now]. I propose that the board thoughtfully review the proposed bylaws additions and changes.

Elections Supervisor Report

Supervisor Medlock: we had an elector come into the office. She’d previously come in about a week or so ago. She picked up a voter registration application for the brother. He got a voter registration card and absentee ballot application in the mail. She submitted it for him [the absentee ballot], with his signature on it.

Vice Chair Youmans: there’s nothing illegal about someone taking an absentee ballot to anyone to get them to complete it.

Supervisor Medlock: has spoken to an investigator about it. The elector does have some kind of disability that would keep him from completing it on his own.

Chair Ransom: so he was assisted?

Supervisor Medlock: yes.

Chair Ransom: did anyone sign [to indicate that they helped him]?

Supervisor Medlock: no.

Chair Ransom: but it has been reported to the authorities?

Supervisor Medlock: yes.

[some brief, low whispering from the crowd, which Chair Ransom had asked the public not to engage in at points before this, incites Chair Ransom to ask the crowd to please not speak during the meeting, or they’ll be removed, as the members of the public are the guests of the board].

Maxine Evans (citizen): you can’t keep us from attending this meeting.

Chair Ransom: [gets up to go get a police officer to remove the citizens from the room]

Vice Chair Youmans: what I’m upset about is if the non-elector filled out the top of the envelope [of the absentee ballot]. I’m not concerned about it if we’re talking about someone filling out a voter registration application on behalf of an elector [as that’s perfectly legal, according to Vice Chair Youmans].

[Three police officers arrive.]

Maxine Evans (citizens): I have made no disturbance in here.

Police officer: all of us are intelligent people. We need to work together. From here on out, we’re going to have an officer in the room [for all the board of elections meetings].

Another citizen: you’re taking her word [Chair Ransom’s word that the citizen was causing a disturbance].

[Three female citizens are removed from the meeting by the three police officers.]

[Members Clayton and Ingram collect their belongings and walk out of the meeting.]

Vice Chair Youmans: was that a walkout?

Chair Ransom: I believe so.

Member Stephens: in the next meeting, could we please have a copy of the budget that we submitted to the commissioners?

Chair Ransom: absolutely.

New Business

  1. Part-Time Third Position in BOER Office

Member Stephens: just because there’s so much going around about this [presumably, internal disagreement], I make a motion that we do away with this [the position].

Vice Chair Youmans: I will not vote for this, but I will second it, so we can do away with a few dollars [in the budget].

I made the motion on December the 10th, 2015 to authorize Member Clayton’s work. It’s quite well-documented that this was intended to be temporary work. The work level now is less than it was at the time of the new position authorization.

In my opinion, the elections supervisor could find somebody else as needed, if she preferred to do so. This isn’t just a matter of load-leveling. If our elections supervisor thinks other individuals can do a better job than [Member Clayton] on a certain task [we should leave that hiring up to her]. Nothing has been said or alleged about any job performance [issues on Member Clayton’s part], but my understanding is that [Supervisor Medlock] could put just about anybody in there that she wanted to.

Motion to eliminate the position does not pass. Member Stephens only “aye” vote.

  1. Poll Workers

For the May 24th election, all poll workers are from the pool used on March 1st.

Vice Chair Youmans: our next board meeting is May 12th. We either need a called meeting between now and then or we need to approve the poll workers today. We’ve heard that only 18 of these poll worker applications (of 32-33 total) were emailed to the board for review.

Chair Ransom: to be clear, Supervisor Medlock has some applications that she’d like to begin the process of reviewing.

Vice Chair Youmans: when do you think you’ll have all the applications ready for review?

Supervisor Medlock: [I just have applications that I’d like to begin considering.]

Vice Chair Youmans: oh, so we’re not approving hiring today? Go crazy, then.

Chair Ransom: in the previous election, we did move quickly in approving poll workers. When you’ve narrowed it down to who you [Supervisor Medlock] want [to hire], let us know.

Comments from Citizens

Joyceleyn Huff: as a concerned citizen and ex-poll worker, if the motions are going to be very extensive and hard to repeat, if we could have them written for the chair to read…we’ve sat here today just to get the motions cleared…if the chairperson realized that they’re going to have some motions, if they could just have them outlined before then. As citizens, we know that your time is important and so is ours.

Vice Chair Youmans: excellent. Thank you.

Post-Meeting

Supervisor Medlock: the board of elections will be processing applications as usual, post-April 26th, aside from county-to-county transfers and address changes. All new voter registration applications will be processed per usual, with no blackout period. The office keeps the voters registered pre- and post- April 27th separated in E-Net, so they can tell who registered in time for the May 24th election, without engaging in a blackout period.

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