Whitfield County Board of Elections Meeting 02/11/21

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

Ex Dir: Mary Hammontree

  1. Special election—Hammontree reported there will be a special election for a county commissioner office on March 16. Because there are five candidates, it’s likely there’ll be a runoff on April 13. She said seven precincts are affected.
  2. Budget—Hammontree said the county commission denied a request for additional laptops, and staff told her the BOE budget has to be cut by $1,000. After hearing the requested laptops were to replace devices eight years old, Cowan expressed two concerns: It will affect customer service, and having old computers could compromise security. Cowan moved and Byers seconded that the board chair approach the county commission about this matter. The motion passed. The chair, Kelehear, said he would ask for four laptops to replace computers eight years old. During the discussion, he was urged by the members to emphasize the security ramifications of using old laptops.
  3. Legislation—Hammontree brought up one bill she would like to see passed. It would allow poll workers to be hired from outside of the county if they are Georgia residents. She said she hired fifty new poll workers in November and twenty-five have resigned since the general election. She mentioned she’s trying to get bilingual poll workers in all precincts. 
  4. Goals—Hammontree reported she will be making a presentation in April on their goals. She said the areas she’s thinking of are poll worker outreach and customer service. She mentioned she would like to have another early voting location for the big elections. There was a brief discussion about another site in the northern part of the county.
  5. Mask mandate—Kelehear said he feels the staff are at risk because the county doesn’t mandate that visitors to the courthouse wear masks. He would like such a requirement for the board of elections office. Cowan agreed, saying there is overwhelming medical and public health information on the efficacy of wearing masks. Byers moved and Cowan seconded that the board adopt such a mandate. During the discussion, Cowan urged that they put the motion into a resolution, stating the reasons for the requirement and making it clear staff would work to accommodate concerns of those may not want to wear a mask. It was agreed that Kelehear would prepare a resolution.

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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