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Whitfield County Board of Elections Meeting 11/11/21

Members present: Carol Byers, Rob Cowan

Registrar: Mary Hammontree

R. Cowan chaired the meeting. 

1. Municipal elections—M. Hammontree reported the municipal elections went well. There were 40 absentee ballots with no duplication. There were elections in Varnell and Dalton, and the turnout was much lower than normal in both cities. She said Varnell had a hundred voters, which is about a third of what they have had in the past. She and staff also noted they didn’t have any problems with voters being abusive to poll workers as they’ve had in the past.

She said there less than ten people who took advantage of transportation to the polls provided by the county. She said she wants to do outreach by advertising in the Hispanic newspaper and putting up posters. 

C. Byers asked if they will have to provide ballots in Spanish in future elections. Hammontree replied she doesn’t know yet. They have 5,800 Hispanic voters. She mentioned the machines they have can be programmed to provide ballots in languages other than English.

In response to a question, she said she is the board’s designee to certify elections. In the future, she wants to get the board more involved in the process.

2. Census redistricting information—Hammontree said one of the county commissioners wants to change the boundaries for the commission members. She said he’ll have to have the changes endorsed by at least one state representative and then it will go through the redistricting process. She passed a sheet summarizing the demographics by each of the four districts: populations range from 24,746 to 26,768; Hispanic population by district goes from 19% to almost 57%; Black population by district goes from 2.3% to 4.27%. She doesn’t know what changes the commissioner is proposing.

In a related discussion she said some residents in Cohutta want to change precinct boundaries, though no plans are being made to do so at this time. 

In the general discussion, Hammontree told the board the May primary might have to be moved to June depending on how soon the redistricting information is sent to the counties. She’s not expecting to get that information until February.

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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