Dele Lowman Smith (D) Chair
Nancy Jester (R) Vice Chair
Anthony Lewis (R)
Susan Motter (D)
Karli Swift (At Large)
1. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: of 4/13/23 regular meeting
3. PUBLIC COMMENTS
DR. NAR PAREEK, AAAJA member and language access specialist: In-language election materials important here because 19% of households speak languages other than English. Other counties do better. AAAJA can provide support to BRE.
GIGI PEDRAZA speaks in support of in-language election materials.
CASA State Director LUIS ZALDIVAR speaks in support of in-language election materials.
SALIK SOHANI of Georgia Muslim Voter Project speaks in support of in-language election materials. Says Arabic language-group speakers are growing in DeKalb.
4. ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION
A. DIRECTOR’S REPORT
DIRECTOR KEISHA SMITH: The robbery at the Stonecrest warehouse is being investigated and she can’t discuss now. No voter information was compromised.
DeKalb has 575,911 registered voters, and 513,429 active voters. No DeKalb municipalities are planning special elections. She has hired 2 new election coordinators, is trying to hire registration technicians, and is trying to hire a communications manager. Smith discusses budget (attached). The hubs (equipment carriers) have not yet received the $2 million allocation required but they are needed because the backup batteries are heavy. She’ll ask for a budget amendment for hubs but needs to give the vendor lead time to manufacture.
(Further discussion with Ms. Jester about budget items including Insurance)
DIRECTOR SMITH: Department is developing new training materials that will cover “laws and codes” and be mandatory for all full-time staff. She’s shown the Ops Committee how the new hubs will work.
She is working with YMCAs and DeKalb Schools to be polling places and voter registration sites.
Profile, the communications consultants, have been helping develop a description of what the new Communications staff will do.
She will show board members and the public one of the new hubs at the end of the meeting.
5. ITEMS FOR DECISION
A. PRECINCT BOUNDARY CHANGES
DIRECTOR SMITH describes the precinct changes (shown in the attachment). 234 voters will have their polling places changed. 679 others have been redistricted but their polling places will not change.
MOTTER: Suggests mailing notifications to affected voters now, but also again nearer to an election.
Board discusses how homeowner requests and state-level redistricting both change precinct boundaries.
Redistricting passes 4 – 0
B. AMENDMENT OF BOARD BYLAWS
MOTTER moves to adopt bylaws discussed in April meeting.
Bylaw amendments pass 4-0
C. RESOLUTION ON LANGUAGE ACCESS
DIRECTOR SMITH: Board of Commissioners asked Elections to develop language access materials beyond federal requirements. Staff is still researching what is needed and she recommends delaying action until the July meeting.
MOTTER: Census shows speakers of Cantonese, Chinese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese in Gwinnett, and that suggests DeKalb would be likely to have similar residents. There are many variants Chinese and various African languages, so we need to work with people in the community, and she asks the public to email her with concerns. Wonders about funding.
LEWIS: Curious about voter participation rates in among different language groups but wants no groups left unserved. He wonders what this will cost the Board of Commissioners.
JESTER: The Commission’s resolution seems to urge the BRE to act, but not demand we take action. Wonders about any state laws and what the program will cost.
DIRECTOR SMITH: The law says Elections must accommodate voting age citizens with limited English proficiency, a population of greater than 10,000, or having limited English proficiency greater than 5% of that particular group or population. She thinks that the language groups in DeKalb all fall below 10,000. She wants to be systematic in how they determine which groups get served.
LEWIS: Asks that any report examine the feasibility of hiring bilingual poll workers.
MOTTER: Reminds board that it’s hard to hire poll workers of any sort and suggests goals may not be feasible.
CHAIR LOWMAN SMITH: While DeKalb appears to fall short of the federal threshold requirements, many people were not counted in the census. Orange County, CA has a call-in language service through their schools. Suggests they get a sense of costs before they commit to a specific program.
JESTER: Moves for deferral on Language Access
Passes 4 – 0
6. EXECUTIVE SESSION
7. BOARD COMMENTS
JESTER: Appreciates public attending meetings in person.
MOTTER: Would like to acknowledge staff retirees at some point.
DIRECTOR SMITH: Mentions retirees by name.
These meetings are open to the public by Georgia law.
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