DeKalb Board of Elections swears in membersL to R Outgoing Acting Chair Nancy Jester, Board members Susan Motter, Vasudevan Abhiraman, Anthony Lewis, Karli Swift. Photo by Sara Amis
DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections members were sworn in at their meeting on July 20, including new Democratic member Vasudevan Abhiraman. Abhiraman was appointed after the departure of former board chair Dele Lowman Smith.
“It’s a privilege to be doing this. I was born, raised, and schooled in DeKalb County,” Abhiraman said.
The other Democratic appointee Susan Motter. Republican appointees Nancy Jester and Anthony Lewis, and member-at-large Karli Swift were all reappointed. Board members serve for two-year terms.
As the next order of business, the board elected Swift as chair and Abhiraman as vice chair.
Public commenters, including civic engagement organizer Mahelet Awash of the Refugee Women’s Network, vice president Bimal Regmi of the Nepalese Association of Georgia, and president Melissa Manrow of the DeKalb League of Women Voters, spoke in favor of expanding the translation of voting materials.
Soon Hyunh Heo also spoke in favor of continuing to offer voting documents in Korean and Spanish and expanding to other languages. Heo offered her comments entirely in Korean, which was then translated.
Director of Registration and Elections Keisha Smith said that the department is in the process of hiring a communications director. Smith requested that a decision about the expansion of translations be deferred until the new director can create a project plan for determining which languages meet the threshold of 1,500 people proposed by the county commission, and how much the project would cost.
Smith confirmed that translated materials for Spanish and Korean will be produced for elections this November, but the department would not be able to produce materials for additional languages in that amount of time. The board decided to defer the discussion of expansion for additional languages until December.
As part of her report, Smith said that voters who have had no contact for two election cycles would be subject to removal after an attempt was made to contact them. Smith said that her department was conducting outreach to encourage people to check their voting status.
In other news, the board authorized Smith to enact intergovernmental agreements with cities in DeKalb County to conduct municipal elections this November.
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