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Commissioner’s call to reinstate committee frustrates DeKalb County Elections Board

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Commissioner’s call to reinstate committee frustrates DeKalb County Elections Board

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry. Image provided to Decaturish

By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor 

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry is proposing the reinstatement of an ad hoc committee that has some DeKalb Elections Board members frustrated.

A vote on the resolution was deferred to the April 13 Board of Commissioners meeting.

Terry announced plans at an Operations Committee meeting in March to bring back a committee of appointed citizens and elected officials to study voter registration, election policies and procedures. The resolution comes on the heels of Senate Bill 202, which empowers the state to review and suspend officials on local election boards.

The resolution states study areas include poll worker training, ballot printing, processing and tallying, voter communication and technical improvements to operations.

But at the DeKalb County Election Board meeting April 8, board chair Sam Tillman – referring to the ad hoc committee – complained about too much outside “interference.”

“We have everybody, not only in DeKalb County but in the state of Georgia, telling us how to run an election,” Tillman said. “Everybody has become an expert on elections in the past two years.”

In attendance, Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson explained the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners appropriates funds for the DeKalb Elections office, not the operation of the department.

“I think that the primary and the runoff in 2020 spoke volumes of how well that you all conducted this presidential election,” she said. “I look forward to our continued relationship.”

Board member Susan Motter is in favor of the ad hoc committee. She said the board has been tackling communication issues since 2019, when she joined the board.

“We still have a lack of transparency,” she said. “How about providing information to me as a member of this board with respect to budgets, staffing and everything else that the public thinks I am receiving?”

Motter and Dele Lowman Smith have repeatedly requested reports on grant spending and post-election analysis in prior board meetings.

“We really haven’t had a full discussion of the board as far as the post-election analysis, specifically your report,” said Motter on March 26. “Particularly in light of SB202, the expectations of this board and of you, Ms. Hamilton, it seems to be there will be greater scrutiny of what we do in terms of our work. It behooves us to have a well-documented process around all the elections that we all collectively went through, and how we are going to address issues going forward.”

Elections director Erica Hamilton said on April 8 because DeKalb County finance department hired a consultant to help with post-election analysis, she plans to “wait on their deliverable before I deliver something to [Board members].”

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