board of elections

Board of Elections violated Open Meetings Act in meeting to propose board structure changes

There will be no change in how members of the Board of Elections and Registration are appointed — at least not this year.

County attorney Franklin Rozier Jr. confirmed legislation proposed last month to make the change has been shelved for this year.

The Board of Elections and Registration approved making a change to the process for appointing members of its board during a called meeting Feb. 17.

Representatives of the Democratic and Republican Parties objected to the changes in light of the lack of public notice and the fact the board did not seek public input regarding the change in the method for selecting members.

The Times was not notified of the called meeting when the change was made, which is a violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

The proposed change in process would have allowed the Pierce County Grand Jury to appoint the majority of members of the board, with each of the major political parties, Democrats and Republicans, appointing one member each.

Currently, the two major parties appoint two members each with the four appointees then selecting the fifth member.

When the board was originally formed in 2009, the Grand Jury method was suggested, but replaced by the party appointment method.

Since the Board of Elections and Registration is a state constitutional board, the change had to be approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

The county commission forwarded the proposal to Pierce County’s representatives in the Assembly, Senator Tyler Harper (R, Ocilla)

and Representative Steven Meeks (R, Screven). A legal ad advertising the change was published in The Times’ public notices earlier this month.

The current arrangement  of political party appointments will remain in place for the next year.

There is no word on whether the grand jury appointment proposal will be reintroduced next year.

Currently, the Board of Elections is composed of Milton Harper, Brian Hersey, Ellis Lovett, Darlene Loftin and Colleen Noble.

Lovett and Harper will rotate off the board this year, having served the maximum two, four year terms. Loftin’s seat is also up for re-appointment, but  she is eligible to serve another four year term.