Lowndes County Official Board of Elections Meeting Minutes 12/08/20

 Meeting Held: Tuesday December 8, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. 

 Location: Lowndes County Board of Elections

 Board Members:

Present: Jackie Goolsby, Ray Corbett, and Carla Jordan

Quorum present?  Yes

Office Staff: Deb Cox – Supervisor of Elections

1.  CALL TO ORDER:

      Jackie Goolsby called the meeting to order at 4:30 p.m. 

2.  INVOCATION:  Led by Carla Jordan

  1. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:  Led by Ray Corbett
  1. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Approval of the minutes of the regular monthly meeting on November 10, 2020 – approved as written. Motion: Carla Jordan, 2nd Ray Corbett. The motion carried unanimously.

  1. CITIZENS TO BE HEARD:

Dr. Dennis Marks: requested items be placed on the agenda and was informed by Deb that the Board Meetings are an open forum with no restrictions on discussion, and no requirements for placement on the agenda prior to discussion.

A. Dr. Marks requested the office contact USPS and request expedited mail delivery in Valdosta.

Deb responded that the Secretary of State has already contacted USPS about expedited mail delivery, that the Lowndes Elections office is in constant contact with USPS locally, and no delays have been noted. The elections symbol on elections mail ensures expedited delivery.

Dr. Marks noted a complaint from a voter about a 23 day transit time between the mailing date listed online to receipt of the ballot for a voter.

Deb responded that 18 November was the date the data was pulled and sent to the ballot contractor in Arizona, and that all rollover ballots were mailed Nov 30th. She also noted that all ballots except rollover ballots are mailed from the office.

Deb stated that she would be in contact with USPS again to ensure expedited delivery of ballots.

B. Dr. Marks requested Mathis Auditorium be used for advanced voting to ensure adequate parking and social distancing, and stated the City of Valdosta had approved the use.

Deb stated that only four days of early voting (out of 19 days) created parking and traffic problems. Social distancing is not enforceable in a polling place. The costs of computer equipment, secure internet, security, and additional poll workers and oversight by full-time staff make a move to another location very costly at a time when COVID has decimated revenues and cut budgets. Rainwater was explored as a site for advanced voting in 2020 and ultimately discarded because of the associated costs. Mathis will be explored as a potential option for 2022 or 2024.  

C. Dr. Marks requested drop boxes at all polling places.

Deb responded that drop box long-term costs include camera installation, download, long-term storage of footage, two personnel to empty the boxes daily, a vehicle for transportation and two personnel at each drop box at 7 p.m. on Election Day. The drop boxes cannot be used for municipal election years, and would have to be sealed or removed.  Ballot return statistics do not correlate with changes in the ballot return or non-return rate. Nov 2019 – 19% of mailed ballots were not returned; Mar 2020 – 33% of ballots were not returned; a drop box was installed; June 2020 – 28% of ballots were not returned; Nov 2020 – 9% of ballots were not returned. The statistics indicate that other variables have more influence over the return rate than the drop box. 

Dr. Marks requested the cost of drop box installation and monitoring.

Deb stated she would provide the information when time permitted.

D. Dr. Marks noted that he was pleased that masks would be provided for voters at the polling locations.

E. Dr. Marks noted that he was pleased that the County would provide CTCL Grant information when it was available.

F. Dr. Marks stated that Lowndes County was the only county that redacted provisional numbered lists and that he wanted them immediately after each election in their unredacted format.

Deb requested that Dr. Marks provide a list of counties that illegally provided unredacted lists and that she would forward the information to the state for immediate investigation. Deb stated that according to the Courts and the Secretary of State’s office, providing unredacted lists was illegal, that the Lowndes County Elections office follows the letter of the law, and requested the Democratic party immediately cease pressuring the elections office to commit illegal acts.

Deb stated that all provisional voters are contacted immediately by phone, text or email upon determining that their provisional ballot would not be counted or if additional information was required. A letter is also mailed to the voter. Deb suggested Dr. Marks send potential poll workers to the office to help make the phone calls, texts, and send emails, making the provisional list request unnecessary. Poll workers would need a driver’s license, social security card, and would be required to fill out paperwork prior to Election Day.

F. Dr. Marks requested meeting minutes be posted on the county website prior to each meeting. 

Deb responded that meeting minutes are available upon request, but would consider posting them in the future.

G. Dr. Marks advised everyone of an article he had written for the VDT on cooperation between political parties and running amicable campaigns.

Pam Hubbard: asked if adequate poll workers were available for advanced voting and Election Day, and whether all precincts would be open.

Deb responded affirmative to all three questions.

Dr. Marks:  requested Board Meetings be held via Zoom.

Deb responded that Zoom was insufficiently secure for Lowndes County use, that other options are used for video conference calls with the State, and the idea would be considered.

6. SUPERVISOR’S REPORT: Deb Cox

 No unusual expenditures

The County is working on an accounting method for the CTCL Grant, but a very rough overview indicates approximately $37,000 spent to date on poll worker pay, poll worker training pay, poll worker bonus, the Risk Limiting Audit, the Recount, polling place equipment and attorney fees, all of which were not in the budget for FY 2021. The CTCL Grant can only be used for items not funded by the allocated county budget.

7. UNFINISHED BUSINESS: None

8. OLD BUSINESS: None

9. NEW BUSINESS: None

10.  ANNOUNCEMENTS: None

NEXT SCHEDULED MEETING:  Tuesday, January 12, 2021, at 4:30 p.m., via public phone conference due to COVID.

ADJOURNMENT: 5:15 p.m.

Jessica Thomas – Lowndes County Elections


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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