Governments of Floyd County and City of Rome, GA

Floyd County

Meeting Minutes October 8, 2018

Minutes Regular Meeting
October 8, 2018

Board Members Present:
Steve Miller, Chairman
Dr. Tom Rees, Member
Mardi Haynes-Jackson, Member

Incoming Members Present:
John Scott Husser, Jr
Melanie Conrad

Legal Counsel Present:
Wayde Hoyt, Floyd County Attorney

Staff Present:
Vanessa Waddell
Donna Maldanado

Chairman Mr. Miller called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.

#1- Approval of Agenda

Motion #10082018-1 Yeas Nays Absent
A Motion was made by Member Dr. Tom Rees to approve and adopt the agenda, seconded by Member Mardi Haynes-Jackson. Motion carried Miller
Dr. Rees

#2- Approval of Meeting Minutes of September 17, 2018

Motion #10082018_2 Yeas Nays Absent
A Motion was made by Ms. Jackson to approve minutes of 09/17/18, seconded by Dr. Rees. Motion carried. Miller

#3 –Opening Remarks – of Chairman, Miller

After the introduction of the officials present, Chairman Miller addressed those present and made the following remarks prior to opening the meeting for public comments. His comments were to specifically address comments and concerns recently made by the public to and through the local media, and noted the following for the record;
1. The vacancy of the Chief-Clerk of Elections was not created by the actions of the Board of Elections.
2. The Board and County manager, Jamie McCord were immediately notified of the resignation of the Chief-Clerk, which was accepted by the Chairman and would be effective August 24, 2018.
3. Chairman contacted Floyd County HR Director to assist in drafting a job-posting for this position with the minimum requirements, and once draft was approved, the position opening was posted by HR with no end date so as to attempt to secure the very best person to fill this position, and not based on an artificial deadline. Although an election is set for November 6, 2018, the Board feels it would be in everyone’s best interest for the Board and Staff to focus on the election and not a quick replacement of the Chief-Clerk.
4. Applications have been received, and after HR completed reference and background checks, all qualified applicants were being scheduled for interviews beginning Friday, October 12, 2018.
5. On September 17, 2018. the Board elevated Ms. Waddell and Ms. Maldanado to the position of Interim Joint- Chief-Clerks until the position is filled, with their primary focus, as well as that of the Board members, is to be on the upcoming November election.
6. Regarding comments that “someone needing to be in charge of elections”; Chairman clarified the Board and Chairman were the body responsible for all election matters in Floyd County, and this was set up by previous Commissioners.
7. Chairman Miller thanked Ms. Waddell and Ms. Maldanado for their extra efforts during this time and assured those present the office not experiencing any unforeseen difficulties and was running as normal.
8. The Board updated training materials earlier this year and conducted poll-worker training last week as mandated by the Secretary of State’s regulations.
9. Regarding the accusation that the office was “purging 11,000 voters in Floyd County”. Chairman Miller outlined the process whereby a voter would be removed from the voter list. Our office does not “purge” voters except where they have passed away, moved out of State, or been convicted of a felony. Voters may be placed on the inactive voter list if they fail to vote or contact the elections office for 2 consecutive Presidential elections, but beyond that no voters are removed from the voter list. He further stated he seriously doubted that “thousand of voters had been removed from the voter list in Floyd County.” And further reminded all present that our monthly meetings are “open to the public’ with the exception of personnel matters, and encouraged the public to attend the meetings.
10. Chairman Miller asked for comments from the Board Members. Dr. Rees stated he agreed with Chairman Miller’s comments and we are prepared to run the upcoming election. Ms. Haynes-Jackson stated the office staff and the Board are in communication on a daily basis Chairman Miller asked for public comments and then called those who had signed up to speak in the order they had signed up.

#4- Public Comments:
1. Mr. Larry Marrow made the following comments: He questioned the title of “Chief-Clerk”, which had previously been referred to as “Election’s Supervisor”. And questioned whether there was any kind of “ordinance” that gives the Election Board and was the first time he had heard that the Board was authorized to act as Election’s Supervisor. Chairman Miller went on to explain how the Board was set up by the County Commission, and functions. County Attorney Mr. Hoyt commented in 1986 the State Legislature created an Act whereby the Board would be in charge of all elections, and further gave the Board the right to hire (or not hire) a Chief-Clerk to run the Election’s Office and conduct elections. Mr. Marrow then asked if the Chairman or any member of the Board went to the County Commission and asked that Willie Green be removed from office. Chairman Miller responded that “as he stated in his opening remarks, the Board was in no way responsible for the departure of Mr. Green, he had submitted his resignation in August, and the Board Chairman accepted it.” Mr. Marrow the stated he felt there was a “conflict of interest with the Chairman’s appointment” since he and Commissioner Maxey worked in the same office, and Chairman Miller responded that his appointment was a unanimous appointment of the County Commission, and not one person.
2. Ms. Margaret Cothran of the OST Sorority made the following comments: She came to the Board to support Ms. Vanessa Waddell, she read through the qualifications of Ms. Waddell and asked that the Board appoint her to fill the position of Chief-Clerk.
3. Ms. Susan Daniel moved to have the Vice-Chair of the League of Woman Voters, Ms. Lou Ella Hobgood to speak on her behalf, who gave the following comments: She was concerned with the “integrity of our elections” and asked about the position being “downgraded” to Chief-Clerk and the minimum pay scale being offered by the County. She felt an increase in pay would be much cheaper for the County versus a law-suit. She then questioned the accountability within the office, and “who supervises the supervisors”, and assumed it would be the County Attorney. Chairman Miller reiterated the “position nor the pay-grade have been downgraded.”
4. Samuel Malone, representing Rome-Floyd NAACP made the following comments: He wanted to “clear up an error in the local paper regarding the number of purged voters. That number should have been 1,100 and not 11,000.” He then stated that when replacing Mr. Green that “people in-house deserve preferential treatment and should be looked at first.” And finally stated that “there are people who have been purged from the voter roll who are eligible to vote and disenfranchising one voter, is disenfranchising every voter.”
5. Ms. Lucy Johnson-Hale with the League of Women Voters made the following comments: She thanked the Board for their public service and said the LOWV wanted to be partner’s with the Election’s Office and supported the comments of the Vice-Chair of the LOWV as stated earlier.

#5- Chairman Miller closed public comments, encouraged those present to “stick around for the remainder of the meeting and hear what’s going on” and then proceeded with the meeting.

Motion 10082018_ 3 Yeas Nays Absent
A Motion was made by Ms. Jackson to approve minutes of 07/09/18, seconded by Dr. Rees. Motion carried. Miller

#7 – No communication from Secretary of State were received or presented.

#8 – Chairman Miller stated the Board had prepared, approved, and submitted the budget for 2019 in the amount of $300,250.00.

#9 – Chairman Miller stated he had received invoices from ES&S for the November 2017 election for repairs to DRE equipment and contacted Mr. Green to verify machines were in fact received and was assured they were and authorized the payment to be made.

#10 – Chairman Miller reported there is an “internal investigation” going on within our office in regard to a DOI allegedly submitted to our office by Dave Roberson. Mr. Roberson and his campaign chairperson attended last month’s meeting and was instructed to contact the SOS office regarding any penalty that would be imposed and report back to the Board.

#11 – Ms. Jackson stated she had contacted Vanessa and was assured all absentee ballots had been sent by the deadline.

#12 – Chairman Miller stated he had been informed there would be poll-watchers during advanced voting, and Ms. Waddell stated to date there has been no one come by the office to submit their appointment letters. She also stated we have been informed there would be exit-polling taking place at the West Lindale precinct during the election on November 6, 2018.

#13 - Chairman Miller stated we have received applications for the Chief-Clerk’s position. Reference checks have been made and interviews are being scheduled with the next one taking place on October 12, 2018. These meeting, being personnel matters are not open to the public.

#14 – Chairman Miller stated Advanced voting begins October 15th and asked Donna for an update on poll-workers being scheduled. She stated all have been contacted and we are all set.

#15 – Ms. Jackson verified she had secured the lap-top from Mr. Gilliland to be used as a hot-spot for Garden Lakes Baptist Church during Advanced Voting and on Election Day would be available for Vanessa to pick up on Friday, October 12, 2018.

#16 - Preparation for November 6th election. Vanessa stated the test-deck has been ran and all absentee ballots have been printed.

#17– Vanessa stated 134 poll-workers attended last weeks poll-worker training, but some will need to come by the office for training before working the polls. Those workers are being scheduled.

#18 – Donna stated ES&S was scheduled for express-poll upload. Chairman Miller stated the Boar4d and office staff would be conducting the express-poll upload on the Saturday preceding the November election.

#19 – Donna Stated equipment delivery is set up to be delivered prior to the elections, and the absentee ballot counters have been scheduled to come in on Tuesday, November 6th at 2:00 PM to begin the process.

#20 – Chairman Miller stated he would be swearing in a few more registrars for the Tuesday evening tabulation to assist with the process, including the two incoming Board members.
#21 - Vanessa reported over 600 absentee ballots have been mailed out to date, with over 200 returned so far.

#22 – Chairman Miller asked for an update to the phone greeting on the office phone, and stated Chad from IT was to change the greeting ASAP and he would follow up on it.

#23 – Chairman Miller reiterated that all emails received by the office be responded to ASAP and encouraged all staff to respond to incoming emails immediately.

#24 – Vanessa stated the UOCAVA report was sent in last week with her signature attached.

#25 – Donna stated we have a much higher number of people requesting absentee ballot applications and the ladies in the office are working as hard as possible to get these out, but it may take longer than most people would think because of the volume. Chairman Miller told her that if additional help was needed to let the Board know so they can respond.

#26 – Chairman Miller updated all on the anticipated resignation of Representative Christian Coomer and the possibility of a Special election being called. This would not happen before the November election as there is not enough time remaining, per State Law. It appears the election will take place sometime before year-end. He further stated there was an incorrect report in the Rome News stating he had spoken with the State Attorney General, Chris Carr, He then clarified he had not spoken with Mr. Carr, but had spoken with Mr. Chris Harvey with the SOS Office concerning this matter and reported at this time a decision as to when a Special Election would be called had no yet been made.

#27 – Chairman Miller stated he had received correspondence from a person from GL Baptist Church seeking a “donation” for the use of their facilities. He then asked for the Board for suggestions on how to handle this situation. Ms. Jackson shared this information with them stating we cannot make a “donation” to a church but would pay an invoice should they submit one to our office, then asked Donna the amount we pay for 1-day voting and early voting at other places. Donna responded 1-day use is between $50-$100 but does not have a figure for advanced voting. Donna stated she would get with the person submitting the request and have her send us a suggested amount they would feel was fair.

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 1:20 PM.

Next board Meeting will be November 12, 2018.

Respectfully Submitted by:

Steve Miller, Chairman