[ February 06, 2024 ] The Pickens County Board of Elections and Registration regular scheduled meeting on February 6, 2024.
I. Call to Order
II. Pledge of Allegiance
III. Moment of Silence for William Bell
As a former board chair and a loyal ally of the elections office, William Bell made significant contributions to Pickens County. He sadly succumbed to an illness in late 2023.
IV. Approval of Agenda
V. Old Business
A. Polling Place Agreement
The polling place agreement is a document that outlines the terms and conditions for using various locations as polling places.
Supervisor Stacey Godfrey reported that they lacked a formal agreement for some polling places, and they have been drafting one with their former and current lawyers. They have incorporated some suggestions from their new lawyers to enhance the agreement, and they are finalizing it before seeking the board's approval. They anticipate to have the agreement done before the March elections, and they want to secure an agreement with the schools that serve as polling places. They discovered that the county owns one of the polling places that they assumed was owned by someone else, which is advantageous for them. Stacey requested the board to postpone the item until the March meeting, and the board consented.
B. Voter Guide
Supervisor Stacey Godfrey updates the board on the voter guide, a publication for every household in Pickens County that the board agreed to make before the election year. They started working on the voter guide in January, but other duties like equipment testing and worker training slowed them down. They plan to complete the voter guide soon and mail it by the end of February. They will share a draft with the board before printing. They revised the voter guide based on the board's input and other counties' examples. They shortened the voter guide to 12 pages and added all the important information such as precincts, contacts, and voting dates. They have enough funds for the voter guide postage and the board gave the green light for the project last year.
VI. New Business
A. BOER Meeting time
Board Chair Jacque Elwarner suggests moving the board of election meeting time from 6:30 to 6 pm to suit the staff and the public better. The old time was based on the former board members' convenience, but they can change it now. Ms. Elwarner seeks the board's feedback and ideas on the proposed change. The board concurs that 6 pm would be a fair time and does not prefer an earlier start. The board approves the change and does not involve Terry, a retired board member who is absent from the meeting.
B. Appointment of Vice-Chair
Board Chair Jacque Elwarner suggests postponing the appointment of a vice chair until Terry, a board member, is present. Ms. Elwarner emphasizes that the vice chair plays a crucial role in leading meetings when the speaker is absent, and this responsibility requires input from everyone. The initial agenda assumed Terry's presence, but they later discovered she would not attend. The vice chair position became vacant after Mike, the former vice chair, left the board at the end of 2023. The board reaches a consensus to defer the appointment until the next meeting.
C. Pre-Election Meeting
The purpose of the pre-election meeting was to align various departments for the upcoming elections. Participants included representatives from the Sheriff's department, Commission Chair, EMA Director, EMS, Fire Department, and the Recreation Center Director. During the meeting, they discussed election needs and requirements from each department, aiming to address any issues before election day.
The outcomes were productive: they resolved issues related to polling places, proposed solutions for challenges such as cell service, and worked with the EM director on radios for locations with poor cell service (like Yellow Creek and Tate). Additionally, they planned parking arrangements for voters, including signs for "voter parking only," ensuring that logistical issues wouldn't deter voters.
The Board of Education was invited but couldn't attend the meeting. However, discussions with Dr. Thomas led to planning virtual learning days during elections. For the March 12th election (the Presidential Preference Primary), school will be virtual. For the May 21st election (3 days before school ends), in-person voting arrangements will be made. Future collaboration aims to align school calendars with major elections.
Overall, the collaborative efforts and proactive planning demonstrate a commitment to voter safety and security. Additional pre-election meetings are scheduled to continue this positive momentum.
D. March 12, 2024 PPP
The upcoming March 12th Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) key dates were discussed, including early voting starting from February 19th to March 8th, spanning 17 days (including two Saturdays). The voter registration deadline is February 12th, and absentee ballots will be sent out starting the same day. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is March 1st, with the return deadline on Election Day (March 12th) at 7:00 pm.
The early voting location will be at the Pickens County Recreation Center, and the equipment will be set up there on February 16th.
VII. Staff Comments
Supervisor Stacey Godfrey updated the board on the staff's work and plans for the upcoming elections. They have a scheduled team of poll workers (over 75), but they welcome more volunteers.
Candidates for the general primary will qualify during the early voting period in March (March 4th through the 8th), and that they will attend virtual training sessions with the Secretary of State.
They have tested the equipment and adopted a barcoding system to monitor the Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) and printers that they send to different precincts. The barcoding system helps them manage the BMDs and printers. They can scan the barcodes to check which devices are in use and which are in storage, and that they have the serial numbers on the LNA testing paperwork. The barcoding system avoids mistakes that could occur with writing the numbers by hand, and that they checked the correctness of the barcodes before applying them.
(Tested equipment: 66 BMDs, 13 scanners, and 27 poll pads)
They obtained spreadsheets for state forms from Gordon County and customized them to meet the specific needs for the county. These spreadsheets enable them to efficiently scan barcodes and automatically populate the relevant fields, thus saving time and effort. Additionally, there's a color-coded system in place for poll managers to complete the forms in the morning and evening. They can even print the forms with the colors already highlighted.
Three nights of poll worker training was held last week with over 75 attending, but there are still a few individuals who couldn't make it and a makeup training session is being planned for them. All our precincts are now fully staffed. Last year's municipal election led to the departure of both our manager and workers from the Nelson precinct. There are two new managers: one for the Nelson Precinct and another for the Talking Rock Precinct. They're committed to mastering their roles and ensuring smooth operations.
Ms. Godfrey explains how they launched the easy vote campaign portal, which is a module that handles the campaign finance paperwork for candidates and elected officials. They can get the filings online through the portal and send them to the state ethics office. They trained the incumbents on how to use the portal and that they preferred it over the paper copies. The portal also notarizes the filings and lets the candidates submit them from home until the deadline. The portal was one of the products that they added to their easy vote suite last year.
The candidates can designate their campaign finance managers and provide their contact information to the staff, as well as candidates can name their managers in writing or by email, and that the staff will communicate with them through the portal. The speaker says that this will ensure that the candidates are responsible for their own filings and that the staff can assist them if needed.
VIII. Public Comments
IX. Board Comments
During the board comments, Ed (Harold Greathouse) was welcomed and thanked for filling the vacancy. Ms. Elwarner expressed hope that Ed would stay on, given the frequent board member replacements.
Mr. Greathouse addressed a postponed presentation by the Pickens County Republican Party, which aims to share insights at the March meeting. (Public comment guidelines were emphasized for guest speakers by the Board Chair.) Additionally, Mr. Greathouse mentioned the ongoing case against the Secretary of State before Judge Totenberg in Atlanta may bring changes related to the presented machinery.
*** Summaries from the YouTube transcript and rewritten with Copilot AI.***