Dekalb County Board of Elections Meeting 08/12/21

4:30 pm – 7:15

Attendees:  Nancy Jester (R)

        Dele Lowman Smith (D) Chair

        Karli Swift (At-Large)

        Anthony Lewis (R)

        Susan Motter (D)

        Terry Philips, Lawyer

        Erica Hamilton (Director RE)

        Irene Vanderels

        John Matelski

        John Manson

  1.  Approval of the Agenda
  2. Approval of Minutes from July 8 Meeting
  3. Public Comments – Four persons gave public comment:  
  • Liz Troop – Stated many people are unaware of upcoming elections.  She has a group that is ready to help once the information is known.  She also stated the Website needed updating.
  • Marcie McCarthy – Bylaws, specifically Section 4, Committees of the Board, and section 8 – employees should be addressed.
  • William Freeman- Board needs to ensure they do not go to the County Commissioners and have secret meetings on the budget, it should be open to the public. 
  • Catherine Bernard – stated that the creation of a private budget committee in the bylaw changes is against the open meetings act. 
  1. Commissioner’s Comments – no Commissioner present.
  2. Executive Session – none needed
  3. Orientation for New Board Members with the Director

Ms. Swift asked about binders and meeting the Director’s staff.  The Director said they are ready and can be picked up after signing an acknowledgement letter.  Said the budget and an organization chart will be in the binder.

  1. Advance in Person Times and Locations: Director Hamilton:

Proposed, to be voted on by the Board

  1. City of Atlanta – Bessie Brown Recreation Center
  2. City of Brookhaven -Linwood Recreation Center
    1. Saying the Cities because in a municipal election year the advance voting sites must be in the and the city pays for it.  They choose and out of 13 cities only 2 indicated they wanted a site. 
  3. Berean Christian Church (chosen in unincorporated Dekalb in lieu of a city because it wouldn’t be fair to pay for it when the cities are paying.
  4. The County Voter Registration Office
  5. Recommending voting hours, 8am to 6pm.Based on the new law there are two mandatory Saturday voting, and those hours are 9am to 5pm
  6. Advanced voting begins October 12th-29th, Saturday October 16 and 23rd.

Discussion:  

  1. Ms. Swift asked why the hours were not longer if we are able to do that, what polling locations have we had in the past and is there any county locations in the Southern part of the district. 
  2. Mrs. Hamilton pulled up a map showing the other sites (useless, IMO), they did an analysis on past voting trends and didn’t pick sites like the library because the vote is only a question, and the trend is low voter turnout.  The manner of choosing sites have changed with the new SB202 law, site must be in government buildings or an election day polling place.  School is in session but unlikely will be able to use for three weeks. 
  3. Ms. Swift asked if the issue of the few sites budget or just don’t want to.
  4.   The board can choose to have more, and the County pay for it, the director brought up that it would be unfair for those cities who chose to pay. It is not a budgetary issue.  
  5. Ms. Swift asked why we couldn’t use times of 7 to 7, the director said that customarily there is low turnout, justifying the times however it is within the board’s purview to set the time.  
  6. Ms. Jester asked that the data the Director provided just prior to the board meeting be provided before so the members can be prepared to discuss.  
  7. Ms. Jester brought out the fact that only the two cities responded to the request for sites.  She wanted to know if it was the staff who said no or the elected officials, not known.  Jester thinks there needs to be another level of communication to the elected officials and she intends to call those officials after this meeting.  Because there is a county question on the ballot other voters should not be penalized by not providing voting sites.  
  8. Ms. Motter is concerned about the northern parts of the county and that the no-response is a suitable response to whether you want a voting site.  If the county has a site, they ask the city to pay a percentage based on the number of sites. 
  9. The Chair asked if there is a hurdle in getting those cities who did not previously opt into an early voting site to pay the percentage.  
  10. The Director said they would notify the change in past practices.
  11. Discussions continued about various sites to be used, etc. Porter Sanford was mentioned but Mr. Matelski indicated it may not be available.  
  12. Ms. Swift asked OCGA 21 2-266 outlines early vote locations be in County own buildings where practicable, if there are not enough public owned buildings can we then look at non-public buildings?  
  13. Irene Vanderels (Lawyer)responded that SEGA 21-382 sets out requirements for advanced voting locations and that voting locations must be in County owned buildings or buildings built or renovated using government funds (SB202)
  14. Madame Chair summed up the additional information needed moving forward:  — List of historical advanced voting sites and decision-based data, population, transportation, handicap access, etc.  A motion was made that #7 on the agenda be deferred to the next meeting pending the gathering of additional information.  It was seconded and approved unanimously.
  1. Establishing Budget Committee: The Chair stated it had been 7-8 years since the bylaws had been updated and there is a lack of transparency and collaboration on the department’s budget process.  Recommended that an additional person be added to access to the budget process along with the chair.  Mrs. Jester stated she thinks that what the Director sends to the county be approved by the Board before it is sent.  If the county does not approve, then the board should go and defend those items that were not approved.   Ms. Motter Any committee must be public and the one in question is made up of only two persons which means there is a quorum of one.  They asked the lawyer, and he told the chair he will talk process with her offline.  Mrs. Motter was “intrigued” with a grouping “committee” to do all the leg work and they take it back to the Board for discussion and decision.  Item #8 was deferred until the next meeting
  2. Discussion of Board Governance Procedures and Notice of Intent to Amend Bylaws:  The bylaws will be referred section by section to each board member and will be managed by the lawyers, so that the discussion at the meeting will be only on where there is a difference of thought.
  3. Communications Update:  Press release was issued on the no contact notices; websites are on the way to include SB202 FAQ and info around pertinent date.  Ribbon cutting on the way to announce the opening of the new kiosk. (Report by Ms. Henderson)
  4. Director’s report:  
  • Challenged Voters – certified letters mailed to 12 voters to the address on file and the challenger’s address, with copies of the challenger’s letter and the challenge procedures.  Received 5 responses, 1 moved and asked to be removed, 1 moved and will reply and three submitted proof of residency.  There will be a Board call meeting Wednesday, 8/18 on this issue.  
  • Deputy Registrars (DR) letter sent to public high schools, colleges and universities in Dekalb County to schedule annual DR training for the week of September 13, 2021.
  • As of August 11, 1,402 Poll Officials have registered for training classes.  The anticipated number of poll officials is 1592.  Training August 23 – October 23, 2021.
  • Anticipate 5 polling location changes and are securing polling locations for the Nov 2 Municipal Special Election.
  • Reviewing new absentee ballots applications and envelopes
  • The Special Project Coordinator is preparing to mail letter to 47,000 to all elderly and rollover voters within the county.
  • Municipal voter list has been submitted and reviewed for potential challenges.
  • Per Chair Lowman Smith’s request, number of registered voters in Dekalb county without a driver’s license or state ID is 29,798 as of August 7.
  • Confirmation No activity for two General Elections:  June 18,2021 confirmation mailed 7,989; Returned undeliverable 4,026 and entered in eNet as undeliverable, no confirmations or cancellations.
  • No Contact Confirmation for last 5 years: July 2021 confirmation mailed 18,206; Returned undeliverable as of Aug 11 and entered in eNet 3,813; Response to confirmation zero; Status will be changed to inactive.
  • Discussion – You can get a voter ID from the Office of Registration and Elections; A 8M budget was entered and they only received 3M and the board members asked to see a line-item list of what was not approved. Asked if there is or is it possible to send a mailer to let voters know about upcoming elections.
  1. Board Comments: All members thanked the staff for their hard work and all agreed that the board is on one accord and moving forward.
  2. Meeting adjourned at 7:15.

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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