If there is one thing that emerges from the presentation by Lynn Ledford, director of the Gwinnett County’s electoral department, to district officials on electoral reform in Georgia on Tuesday, it is that the new law contains a lot of information that district officials are taking in can. And it will take some time to figure out what to do to comply with the law.
“Senate Bill 202 is a beast,” said Ledford.
Georgia’s electoral reforms have been controversial and controversial. They made Major League Baseball pull their all-star game out of Atlanta this year, and the leaders of Coke and Delta Air Lines have criticized the bill.
Proponents of the new law, including Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, argue the changes made voting in Georgia more accessible and safer. However, opponents have argued that the changes will make it more difficult for colored people to cast their vote.
Ledford predicts that some of the changes the law is making – in terms of requiring voters to produce identification to receive postal ballot papers, shortening the deadline for requesting postal ballot papers, and limiting the number of postal ballot drop boxes – will postpone that Voting results will lead to after 2020 The number of those eligible to vote by post rose sharply.
As a result, the county is already looking into where additional voting machines can be added and which counties need to be split up. New opportunities for early voting in Southeast Gwinnett and the Peachtree Corners are also being considered.
“I think we’ll have more people to vote again,” said Ledford.
Ledford highlighted some of the bill’s provisions, such as the state’s ability to temporarily replace and take over the county’s electoral boards based on whether the board believes it is properly overseeing the elections.
The general assembly can appoint several members of the state election committee.
“They are all Democrats and some of them (in the General Assembly) are Republicans,” Ledford said. “If three of them decide they don’t like something that happens in the Gwinnett County election, they could actually go to the State Elections Board and say, ‘We want you to be investigated. ‘During this investigation, you can suspend all five members of our electoral board and appoint temporary replacements.
“This temporary replacement can make hiring decisions, and it’s really scary because when you have employees who know their job and know how to do it – just because someone doesn’t like something that happened one day, they can appoint a temporary employee Replacement. “
Ledford said the suspended person could apply for reinstatement 30 to 60 days after being suspended. However, if they do not apply for reinstatement, they will be permanently removed from their position and the temporarily appointed electoral superintendent becomes permanent superintendent, according to Ledford.
“So they just took that power from the county government agency and turned it over to themselves,” Ledford said. “This is one of the things I understand that is really combated in all litigation and we can be called upon to testify as a larger county.”
Ledford also said the county would still have to pay for the displaced board as well as the temporary board.
“And as I understand it, you could substitute one person for five electoral officers,” she said.
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Another part of Georgia’s electoral reforms is banning counties from accepting grants to cover election-related costs. Ledford said Gwinnett received nearly $ 6.5 million last year, which allowed the county to provide additional personal protective equipment for each election worker and election worker and to purchase 23 postal ballot papers.
Gwinnett Commission Chair Nicole Love Hendrickson said the grant funding also helped the county cover the cost of providing election papers in Asian languages such as Korean or Vietnamese.
“If we were to include some of the Asian languages in the actual samples, outside grant funding would have been considered to pay for,” Hendrickson said.
Ledford said the county will also be forced by law to reduce the number of postal ballot papers from 23 to six. The law also requires that these boxes be located inside the polling station and must be monitored by a polling officer at all times while the polling station is open. According to Ledford, this places personnel and ultimately budget requirements on the county.
“We need to create a whole bunch of other polling officers whose job it is to literally sit next to this ballot box and watch it from seven in the morning to seven in the evening or every election ends,” Ledford said.
Ledford said the Secretary of State’s office is also required to maintain electoral rolls – something critics deride when voters clean up. Four rounds of list maintenance are expected this year, according to Gwinnett’s election officer.
“In my 30 years they have never done this in a year,” said Ledford.
The rounds of list maintenance include comparing voter lists with the social security death index, voters who have been on an inactive list for at least seven years, voters who have not voted in two federal elections, and comparisons with national changes in address registration.
Another aspect of the bill that Ledford said Gwinnett election officials were concerned about is a section preventing the county from counting a preliminary ballot cast by a voter who shows up in the wrong district before 5 p.m.
Although these voters could cast a preliminary ballot before 5 p.m., electoral staff and volunteers would have to notify the voter that the ballot would not be counted.
“How many election officials are we going to lose if we tell them this,” Ledford told the commissioners.
After 5 p.m., the voter can cast a preliminary ballot but must sign an affidavit stating why they cannot return to their assigned district before the elections are complete.
Ledford said Senate Bill 202 had some good parts, namely the ability for someone to work as an election worker in a neighboring county. The reason she said this was a good change was because in the past, when only Gwinnett residents could be electoral officials, Gwinnett had difficulty recruiting adequate numbers of electoral officials.
Part of the new law, but one that has proven controversial, is the ban on giving water or other beverages to people waiting in long lines to vote. Ledford said talks had taken place on how the county could provide water to voters without breaking the law.
“There are some of these big coolers that – I see them with Coca-Cola wraps – can roll around,” Ledford told the commissioners. “So I would imagine we would come in every morning and fill these up and then strategically place them throughout the voting site.”
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