No answer for Newborn on election take over

NEWBORN --- Newborn officials pleaded their case before the Board of Elections Monday to have the board take over town elections, but no decision was reached.

Newborn Mayor Roger Sheridan, Town Attorney Joe Reitman and Clerk Lisa Rowe attended the meeting held at 2 p.m. at the Newton County Administration Building.

Officials want the Board of Elections to handle town elections. They also are attempting to get the Newborn charter changed so that elections occur on even years, like the county's, as well as to get the precinct for town elections changed from Town Hall to Newborn United Methodist Church, the same precinct where county, state and federal elections take place.

In a follow-up interview Tuesday, Sheridan said the town would pay for a portion of the additional cost for the Board of Elections to handle town elections. He said that Newborn citizens pay county taxes and should not be required to pay the entire cost.

Sheridan was not optimistic about the board's response.

"It appeared to us that they seemed to be on a negative slide. 'We can't do this because of this, we can't do that because of that.' I think they have to open up and look at it in a more positive fashion. We can do these things if we just sit down and do them, and to sit here and waste all this time, it just hurts to see it," Sheridan said.

Sheridan said board members were concerned about increased traffic at the Administration Building from hosting early voting for Newborn. But, Newborn residents must come there to vote in county, state and federal elections already, he said, and if the charter is changed, town elections will be held at the same time. So there would be no increase in traffic, Sheridan asserted. There were two people who voted early during the town's last election in 2009, he said.

Other counties such as Oconee, Morgan and Hancock handle elections for their municipalities, he said.

The town currently does not have a certified election supervisor. Town Clerk Lisa Rowe's certification has expired, and Rowe said she does not have time to get trained, as the town does not have staff to relieve her from her other duties.

Board of Elections Chairman Hugh Steele said the board "listened attentively to all the points they brought up."

"We need some time to think about this," he said, adding he expects the board will reach a decision by its July 8 meeting.

Porterdale City Manager Bob Thomson also attended the meeting. But the city of Porterdale has no plans to ask the Board of Elections to take over its elections, said Clerk Megan Reid, adding that would require a charter change, approval from the Department of Justice, a precinct change and notification of all citizens, which would be too much of a hassle.