Dekalb County Board of Elections Meeting 05/13/21

The meeting of the DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections was called to order by the Chair, Mr. Samuel Tillman.  A motion was made by Mr. Baoky Vu and seconded, approving the agenda by a unanimous vote.

The chair called for the adoption of the April 8 meeting.  Ms. Dele Lowman-Smith requested the minutes of the meetings, even if they are a summary, contain any action items, conversations or requests for information moving forward.  She moved that the board defer the adoption of the April 8th meeting.  Susan Motter seconded the motion, and it was adopted unopposed.

There were no public or commissioner comments.

The Board went into Executive Session to discuss some legal issues.

The meeting reconvened at 5:14.  The next agenda item was the Communications Update provided by Erik Burton (Contractor).  

  • Will continue to share information with all stakeholders
  • Press release regarding Voter IDs was released
  • Communications are continuing coordinating outreach activities, and planning
  • Preparing for changes in voter laws
  • Will hopefully share the next things coming out by the next Board meeting

Questions

  • Susan Motter asked about continued improvements on the website
    • He responded yes, however right now they are focusing on the new Senate bill.  They are working on the Kiosk, FAQ’s.
    • Trying to get things in place and work it in one effort.
  • Dele Lowman Smith asked if he would work with Erica Hamilton, Director, to ensure the Board receives press releases going out.
    • He responded that he would ask the Communication Department (who is the conduit for Dekalb County) to ensure the board is added to the master list of stakeholders.

2020 Election Cycle Lessons Learned Consultant – Director Hamilton

  • An independent consultant Ms. Wilson who is used by other County entities to better respond to issues like those encountered in the last election has added the Board of Elections to her scope of work, it’s not an audit.  There will be three focus areas.
    • Staff (outside resources and stakeholders)
    • Board Members
    • Poll Officials 
  • Legal is looking into it.
  • Irene Vanderes stated if the Board is considering it the action would be for the Board approve authorizing the Director to sign for the action.

Questions

  • Dele Lowman Smith asked the following:
    • Is it in person or live for the focus group – not determined yet
    • Stated would want to find the best method for maximum participation
    • Services -project survey and focus group.  What expertise does the consultant have to do this. Response – She is going to poll the stakeholders to get their thoughts on how everyone did.
    • Ms. Lowman Smith voiced that she did not think what was being offered would yield the stated results and it may be beneficial to speak with the consultant first.
  • Susan Motter asked:
    • Has there been discussion on how long and when this action will begin and what are the anticipated deliverables?  Response – Hopefully it can begin during the timeframe of the other entities (June?).  Looking at what they did well, needed improvements and best practices.
    • Asked if they could have a bio on Ms. Wilson.
    • Asked if it was the same consultant the Operations Committee was talking about? Response – No
  • Mr. Tillman pointed out that the Board Members must take control of the Board again.  Stated the Board should have input at the beginning and not the end. 
  • Mr. Burton stated he felt it was more a top-level review, perceptions from different vantage points.
  • Mrs. Lowman-Smith – stated the verbiage should be changed because best practices is done with research.  She stated she agreed with moving forward but did not think this met the level stated.  Agreed with Ms. Motter that the Board should hear from the Consultant.
    • Mrs. Lowman-Smith responded to the Chair’s comments about past events and stated she was in favor of moving forward after meeting with her and reviewing her resume.
  • Mr.  Lewis stated:
    • He wants to meet Ms. Wilson
    • What Ms. Wilson deems are stakeholders

Director’s Report, Erica Hamilton, Director – the staff has begun the following:

Have begun six months practice in preparation for upcoming elections

Looking at the needs and timelines needed for the November election

Staff will get their task assignments

Met with the Commissioner Terry to preview to him what her office has done so he will know how the working group can help them.

Two of her people will be on the workgroup (Registration and Elections Supervisors)

June 7, Staff Development ENET practice and policies review, etc.

Voters Registration module

Continue staff development procedures

SOPs are ready to go but will be redone so the public can see.  Some of the information will be redacted for the public.

They have purchased two Kiosks, where the public can register to vote, lookup their status, etc.  One kiosk will be at the Voter Registration offices and the placement of the other is TBD.

They are in preparation for the Nov 2021 elections

Census information is coming in

Working on making sure everyone is in the right district.

Questions

Mr. Lewis – asked if she had heard anything from the Board of Commissioners regarding funding.  Response:  She has a meeting May 14 with the Commissioners regarding the Budget.

They are looking at new equipment to automated some of the manual processes.  Propose for the mid-year budget these items.  Ballot processing machines, Inbound mail machines.  They are also looking at how to expand their offices to accommodate the changes.  All of these in hopes of receiving funding staffing.

Mr. Lewis expressed concerns regarding the Commissioners delaying/denying funding.

Stated he was not keen on staff taking hours away from work to be on the working group.

Mr. Manson, Senior Policy Analyst for the Board of Commissions about the two persons participating with the working group.  2 members, one Democrat, one Republican to ensure process is open and fair and provide support to the Board of Elections.

Mr. Lowman-Smith – How can the board se the unredacted SOP.  Response – The unredacted SOP is named the Manual and the SOP is for the public.  The Manual will be at the Registrar’s offices and are available for review by the Board at any time.

Asked for the status of the Grant expenditures.  Now they don’t have a good picture of how the grant was used.  Response – This information will be provided to the Board next week.

Asked that the recommendations of the previous study be added to the next meeting’s agenda.

Board Comments

Ms. Motter – Asked if there has been any discussion on when in-person meetings will begin again.  The Chair said that was an excellent question for the July Board meeting.

Mrs. Lowman-Smith – Wanted in-person discussion to be on the June Board meeting agenda.  Also asked for a list of anticipated upcoming elections.

Mr. Vu, Vice Chair – feels the Board are resuming in taking on the tasks that they had been talking about.

Mr. Lewis – also commented on the in-person stating there was enough space to distance.  Also wanted to begin thinking about the management of the voter rolls in Dekalb County.  Stated that 100k pieces of absentee ballot applications were returned undeliverable, indicating people not in the county but still on the rolls.

In reference to the working group, appreciate the efforts but need specifics on what the group will do, he’s upset that the department is not funded again.  

Mr. Tillman, Chair – Every month Mr. Lewis brings up the commissioner’s lack of funding, the resolution the Commissions did, did not include the Board of Registrars.  The Board is always on the bottom of the totem pole.

Mrs. Lowman Smith – Concurs with Mr. Lewis about goals, outcomes, and purposes of the working group.

The Chair call for a motion to adjourn, Ms. Motter presented the motion, seconded by Mr. Vu and the meeting was adjourned at 6:13pm.


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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