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Floyd County Board of Elections Meeting 07/13/21

Vanessa Waddell – Interim Chief Clerk

Dr. Melanie Conrad, Chair
John Scott Husser
Corey Townsend

12 members of public

  1. Meeting called to order 12:01
  1. Motion on minutes for June 8, 2021 approved
  1. Approval of Agenda – note that public comment is throughout the meeting not only at end
  1. No Chair Report due to length of agenda
  1. Interim Chief Clerk’s Report (Vanessa Waddell)

Office will be in training in Marietta next week.  They have submitted  paperwork for the November election. Lorelei baptist church is not going to be a polling location so looking for a new one in that area. 

  1. Tech Support:  This is a cost to the city that the city will reimburse. Dominion was quite expensive. Hawkins Tech services proposal is about half the cost. Hawkins did Chatham County’s election which went smoothly. They are recommending to the City that they hire Hawkins Tech. They anticipate they will be on-site for 3 days. Will help with downloads, they will not be a part of voting adjudication. Plan is long term to use county employees but because equipment is new and because they are short staffed they will be engaging tech support. 

Vote on Tech Support recommendation. Townsend motion to approve, Husser second. Unanimous.

VII. Staffing Plan : Consulted with Bartow County, similar size to Floyd (Floyd a little smaller). Dr. Conrad sees them as exemplar. Staffing plan includes Chief Clerk, Deputy Chief Clerk needs someone with technical capacity not just clerical skills, Sr Elections Assistant, like a manager and two PT elections assisants, clerical . Salaries represent an increase from past but bringing it up to level of what the roles call for. They have tentative approval from County administration that they can cover these increased salaries and new roles. 

Question from Terri Wright, public comment – are these replacements? Answer: right now there is only one full-time person. County has assigned 3 permanent full-time positions. Only adding the two part-time people. Question: Do they plan to re-post the position? Will they consider a change to state standards (apparently does not require certification)? Answer: they are allowed to put higher standard in place. Citizen repeats concern that they eliminated potential candidates that would be qualified by state regulations. The state does not require state certification and Floyd is requiring it. Concern that it will open the county to a lawsuit and taxpayers shouldn’t pay legal fees. Clarification from Townsend that the qualifications were not changed. The only potential lawsuit is if they don’t comply with the qualifications as posted. Nine other postings in state for chief clerks are currently open right now. If they require certification, they can only hire someone with a certain level of experience. Repeated question / request for re-posting and not  requiring candidate to have certification. Townsend declines to provide legal advice which citizen is asking for. Another citizen accusing the BOE of having someone they wanted to hire and making the qualifications to meet that. Townsend repeats that they have not identified the individual, only the characteristics and qualifications of the position. Townsend does not know if the other postings require it or whether it has been required in the past. Recommends to citizen that they do open records request for that. Issue is whether the person in the role is pre-certified when they start the role or are allowed to achieve that certification in first six months. Townsend states that there is a pool of 150+ other counties that have qualified candidates for this role plus others not currently serving in a similar role who can apply. He believes re-opening it would be inappropriate. 

Vote on Staffing Plan. Husser made motion. Approved unanimously.

VIII. Chief Clerk salary in past was $32-$42K and previous employee negotiated higher. Polk (half the size) pays chief clerk $44,700, Gordon pays $55,000 and Bartow pays mid to high $60K. Last time it was advertised there were only three applicants. They want to be competitive and want to recommend $60-$65K and believe that they County is on board with that. 

Question from Terri Wright: Does the salary take into account the 2 PT roles in addition. Answer: County has already budgeted for a salary in this range. Question: Bartow has 5 FT? Answer: yes, and we would have 3 FT and 2 PT. Population of Floyd is 10K less than Bartow. Motion to go to Executive Session to discuss. Board agrees to recommend a salary of $65K for this role. 

Vote on Chief Clerk Salary: Motion to approve by Townsend, second by Hussey. Approved unanimously.

IX. Increased Budget for Elections Office

The increase is mostly due to the additional part-time people. County has already budgeted the increase for the Clerk but they need to vote to increase salaries for others and create the 2 new PT. County is supportive of increasing the overall budget by $50K to cover those positions to bring the new roles to market and add the two additional. Terri Wright questions the need for two additional people. How do they compare as budget? Conrad says she does not know but that they have 5 new full-time people and suspects they have part-time as well. She does not know what Bartow’s budget is. Question: will the $50K cover the positions that do not currently exist? Answer: the budget increase will be used to cover the increased salaries and additional positions. Motion to approve by Hussey. Second by Townsend. Approved unanimously.

X. New Location

They looked at the Health Dept as new office space. The BOE does not vote on this – it is the County Commission’s decision on issues of real estate. Meeting is tonight and they believe it will be approved. Citizen concern that it is too small. Conrad replied that there is space that they did not realize in addition to the first floor. There is a secure storage space that will be for BOE. It is very large. They will be moving walls and putting in windows and more observation space. It was not adequate in the past. Will be modified to fit their needs. 

XI. Poll Worker Recruitment

They will hire a temp agency. Encourages people to apply to be a poll worker. Setting a date for training in September. Conrad encouraging people to apply through Secretary of State office now and it will be forwarded to Vanessa Waddell. Concern from citizen that they accommodate students in training schedule. If there more than 50 applicants, how will they decide? They will use Sign Up genius to schedule once the applicants are approved. Citizen concern about how they decide. Hussey repeats that everyone who is hired will have opportunity to sign up on Sign Up Genius. Tentatively targeting September 18 and 26 with the primary date being September 18. Training curriculum comes from State with some specialized local training. All poll workers are required to attend whether they have worked in the past. Manager and asst manager training is specialized. Training is approx 2 hours. Requirement is background check. There is no maximum number of people who can/will be hired. 

XII. Voter Education and Outreach

Last election there were a lot of questions about how the process worked. The BOE wants to do more education this cycle. For example on absentee ballot, people would bubble candidate AND write it in which causes adjudication and slows down process. They want to restore faith in the process. Question: Are precinct locations paid to use the space? Not for most of them. There is one location where they pay a minimal amount but many are county sites so they are not paid for that. Total of about 25 sites. Citizen concern that Garden Lakes Baptist Church precinct at Mt Alto North will close. Yes. They are looking for another location. They will vote at Recreation Center on election day. Unclear where early voting will be. They are looking at doing short videos to help with the education on filling out a ballot. Question: Concern about changes in drop box locations. Request for more education about this. Board is asking about topics that will be explored. There will only be one location in Floyd County to drop absentee ballots for November per new state law. 

XIII. Closing Remarks

They are working on streamlining the website so that it will be easier to find minutes and agenda. 

XIV. Next Meeting August 10, 2021

XV.  Meeting adjourned 1:16 PM

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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