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Whitfield County discuss qualifying and poll worker shortage

Whitfield County Board of Election  3/10/22

Members present: Sparky Kelehear (Chair), Carol Byers, Rob Cowan (by phone)

Registrar: Mary Hammontree

Old business

  1. Redistricting—M. Hammontree reported that precinct cards are being ordered to send to voters. There were some changes to county commissioner districts but few other changes.
  2. GARVIS—Hammontree reported the state’s new voter registration and tracking system will start up March 21. She said it will be more user-friendly and faster than the current system.

New business

  1. Qualifying—Hammontree reported that qualifying will end at noon on March 11. At the time of the meeting, three candidates had qualified for county commissioner seats and two for the school board. There were no candidates in one district. In response to a question, she said the school board seats are all at-large.  She didn’t provide any information on the other races. With a day left, no Democrats had qualified for local seats.
  2. GAVREO—Hammontree said the state association for voter registration and election officials will have training on March 21-23. She and her staff will attend via Zoom.
  3. Poll Workers—Hammontree reported they have lost 40 poll workers who had served in previous elections. They have recruited 10 new workers. She said they will be able to get by during the primary but will need more poll workers for the general election. Four poll worker managers have quit as well. She said many don’t want to work “because they’re scared.”

In a discussion, she said she’s trying to get bilingual workers at all the precincts. She and the board discussed the possibility of recruiting high school students. R. Cowan said he will check with the Boy Scouts about soliciting workers. 

  1. Hispanic Business Leaders—Hammontree reported there is a group called Hispanic Business Leaders of Dalton. They meet once a month and asked her to present on April 7 about voter turnout, registering voters, and how they might help. Cowan said that this group met with Sen. Ossoff in February. She also said the owner of a Spanish-language newspaper, Francisco Palacios, will be working with her office to prepare voter information posters in Spanish. 


Hammontree said she was approached by someone to add another early voting site (they only have one, and it’s in the courthouse). She told them that having another site would be too expensive because of the cost of equipment and staffing it. S. Kelehear asked about the primary schedule. Hammontree said, after going over the dates, that they will extend the early voting hours from 5:00 to 7:00 on two of the Fridays. 

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