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Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections Meeting 08/18/20

Board Members:

  • Chair Jesse Evans
  • Rocky Raffle 
  • Willa Fambrough
  • Charles Knapper
  • Judd Drake

Meeting notes: Meeting started at 4pm.

Director of elections Charlotte Sosebee

Link to the meeting

Link to agenda:

Public Comment:

  • Blake Tanner: Citizens are very concerned about safely voting in the middle of the worst pandemic in our collective memory. Doubts about the stability of our postal system have entered the public discourse.
    • Attacks on our trust of the absentee voting system are occurring at the highest office in our land.
    • Our last election period was marked by systematic failures of the voting process not far from Athens. As voters we are being squeezed from every direction.
    • How will we be able to vote safely and securely and not put a tremendous burden on the BOE’s responsibility to swiftly tabulate the votes? Clearly the driver of most of our difficulties is the continued persistent danger that Covid-19 presents to the public.
    • It’s now clear that someone spending more than 15 minutes in an enclosed space with multiple people risks infection. Poorly ventilated older buildings compound the risk even further.
    • It is no wonder that voters flocked to absentee voting for the primary election. People did not want to take unnecessary risks.
    • It is also clear the stress this new wave of absentee voting placed on all of our counties. Equipment and personnel could not keep up with the mountain of mail in ballots that flooded in.
    • In response to all these stresses, I would like to suggest that we explore creative solutions that uniquely address the fears, real dangers and limitations at play.
    • I believe that we need to explore early voting sites that are outside.
    • This would come in the form of 2 different models.
    • One model would set up large tent areas without walls that would house the usual setup for an early voting site. The open air and likelihood that the site would allow for long socially distanced lines that would mitigate the danger of having folks congregate to vote.
    • The other form would be a drive thru style voting site for early voting.
    • If the schools are still not operating at the time of the election, many of them have traffic patterns that would naturally facilitate a drive thru line.
    • Small tents could be set up, 1 for checking in, 3 for voting stations and 1 for the scanner. In each of these models portable generators could be used to provide the power for all the equipment.
    • I want to make it clear that I know these are not easy solutions to achieve but I believe we have enough time to test what might work to facilitate outdoor voting.
    • Outdoor voting would create an environment that is scientifically safer for the voter and the poll workers.
    • It would provide an option that may lessen the use of absentee voting thus taking pressure off the vote counting process on election day.
    • It would create an answer to all the fears that have been injected to question security of relying on the postal service to deliver our votes on time and remove barriers for those that are fearfully choosing between exercising their franchise or risking their health.
    • We are living in extraordinary times in response. I hope that you will look to extraordinary solutions to create an atmosphere that maximizes voter participation in this country.
  • Jaqueline Elsner: Regarding your request for the Athens Clarke Co. Commission to approve funding to mail out applications for absentee ballots for registered county voters. I emailed and heard back from 3 of the commissioners, they’re in favor.
    • They have the request on the agenda for todays meeting of the commission. Be as persistent as you possibly can in this effort.

Director Sosebee: 

  • As of the end of July we have 79855 eligible voters
  • We had a 37% turnout for the primary
  • A majority of voters voted with absentee ballots
  • We have already received 8000 absentee ballot applications for the 11-3 election
  • 9-15-20 is the 1st day that we will be mailing out absentee ballots to voters
  • 10-5-20 will be the last day to register to vote for the 11-3 election
  • Styrofoam blocks will be at every voting location and used when needed to maintain voting privacy
  • Poll worker training will be 10-1 to 10-31
  • 85% of our poll worker training will be done virtually
  • Athens Clarke county will be sending out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters pending approval from the ACC commission. We hope to only send those applications to voters who have not already requested an absentee ballot.

Possible early voting locations:

  • BOE office
  • ACC Cooperative extension
  • ACC Tennis center
  • Miriam Moore community center
  • UGA Coliseum (Tues,Weds,Thurs)
  • UGA Tate Center (Tues, Weds, Thurs)

Early voting times:

  • 8am-5pm 1st week of early voting
  • 8am-7pm 2nd week of early voting
  • Saturday early voting 9am-4pm
  • Sunday early voting 12pm-4pm

A drop box will be added at Winterville City Hall pending approval of funding from the ACC commission

Did you know that the public can attend Board of Registration and Elections meetings? 

These meetings are open to the public by Georgia law. Georgia Open Meetings Act.

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