Whitfield County Board of Elections Meeting 04/09/20

Board members present: Stephen Kelehear (chair), Rob Cowan, Carol Byers

Staff: Mary Hammontree, Michelle Kyle, Andrea Springfield, Rhonda Franks

  1. Primary election—Mary Hammontree, the director, reported those who didn’t vote in the presidential primary would get a ballot that includes the presidential race in the May primary
  2. Early voting, April 27—Ms. Hammontree reported if early voting is held, there will be stipulations on how many can enter the courthouse. Only four or five voters at a time, BOE staff, and no poll workers. The Secretary of State’s Office told them they’ll have to get their own masks. She said her husband’s company may have some N95 masks, but she’s not sure they’ll give any to the BOE. A couple of people are making them, including her son-in-law, but supplies are running out. They have gloves, but she didn’t sound optimistic about getting masks. There was a general discussion about whether there will be early voting. 

Ms. Hammontree added that 75% of the poll workers are over 75. There is the option of using county employees for the primary, but they’ll have to be trained.

  1. Absentee ballot applications—Ms. Hammontree reported they have received a high number of applications, about 2,500. She said many of them are dirty, which causes concern about staff handling them. They don’t have the option of not opening their mail for a few days, as some recommend, since the application information has to be entered and ballots mailed out. She also reported a thousand or more of the applicants have requested absentee ballots for the cycle.
  2. Sequestering—Ms. Hammontree told the board members to expect to be sequestered the whole day for opening and counting absentee ballots.
  3. Discussion—a. Rob Cowan recognized and thanked Ms. Hammontree for a presentation she gave to the Kiwanis that included a video on the new voting equipment.  Mr. Kelehear thanked her for a similar presentation she gave to the Rotary, and he thanked Ms. Springfield for a presentation to the Board of Realtors. 

b. Ms. Hammontree said there is drop box outside the courthouse for dropping off applications and ballots. She put a notice on Facebook, and said there will be a press release about it. Mr. Kelehear asked that they also post a notice about it on the website. 

c. Ms. Hammontree said there will be a table outside their office in the courthouse with address change forms on it. The guards are instructed to let people in who need a form.

d. Both Ms. Hammontree and Mr. Kelehear said they will probably have another meeting in April to prepare for early voting. 

e. At the beginning of meeting, Ms. Hammontree said, in response to a question from Mr. Cowan, the senior center will provide a larger room for the primary.

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