Legislation to address Rockdale Election Board

CONYERS -- Local legislation is scheduled to be introduced at the Georgia General Assembly in the coming days that will address membership appointments to the Rockdale County Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

The bill will be introduced by Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-Locust Grove, and proposes to revise the 1995 enabling act of the local Election Board to have the chief justice of the Rockdale Judicial Circuit name an at-large member if the Democratic and Republican members fail to do so after 30 days of taking office.

The Elections Board has 60 days to fill a midterm vacancy of the at-large member. If they fail to do so, the decision will fall on the judge.

The selection process of partisan members will have the same time requirements but with the local Democratic and Republican parties naming representatives. If they fail to do so within the time frame given in the revised legislation, the county Board of Commissioners will make the selection, according to a draft of the bill.

The proposed legislation was discussed at the Election Board's meeting Tuesday as Rockdale Election Supervisor Cynthia Welch updated members.

The bill is seen as a remedy to more than a year and a half of controversy that surrounded the naming of an at-large member on the Elections Board. With neither Republican Lynn Brown and Democrat Garvin Haynes willing to compromise on a candidate, Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation removed them from the board in November.

The Election Board approved bylaws early last year that left out a section on appointing at-large members because neither Haynes nor Brown could agree on a method.

Former at-large member and chairman Cary Bond stayed on past the end of his term in June 2011 until the new Board of Elections selected local attorney William Todd last month.

Other changes proposed in the legislation:

Remove the clause prohibiting the Elections Board from conducting business until all members are certified by the county Clerk of Courts.

Give the Elections Board the power to select locations of its regular monthly meetings. The current law has the Board of Commissioners designating meeting locations.