The Newnan Times-Herald

Local

County to combine elections, voter registration functions


  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Sep. 24, 2016 - 9:15 PM

Coweta County is making plans to do away with the current Board of Elections and Board of Registrars and to consolidate the elections and voter registration departments.

Instead, the county wants to institute a combined “board of elections and registration,” with a single elections superintendent.

Because the board of elections, created in 2003, was established by “local legislation” in the Georgia General Assembly, it will take local legislation to dissolve it.

Last week, the Coweta County Board of Commissioners voted to ask the local legislative delegation to create and pass local legislation dissolving the existing boards and creating the new ones, once the general assembly session begins in January.

The current boards have three members each, and Voter Registrar Joan Hamilton and Elections Superintendent Jane Scoggins are members of their respective boards.

The proposed new board will have five members – one appointed by each county commissioner. The elections superintendent will not be a member of the board.

The changes were prompted when Hamilton, who has done voter registration for Coweta County for over 30 years, announced her retirement. She retires at the end of the month.

Hamilton’s retirement “started some conversation about where do we go from here,” said Coweta County Administrator Michael Fouts.

County staff did some research and found there are only a few counties in the state who have separate elections and registration boards, Fouts said.

The board of registrars is appointed by the grand jury, and the chief registrar is chosen by the senior superior court judge, Fouts said. The board of elections is appointed by the commissioners.

The change will do away with the involvement of the grand jury and judge.

Because the local legislation won’t take effect for many months, Fouts said the county will be asking the superior court judge to appoint Scoggins as registrar until the changes are finalized.

Currently, Coweta’s elections office is in the basement of the county administration building and the voter registration office is on the first floor. Even though the two departments will become one, Fouts said the elections equipment and voter registration equipment will probably remain segregated, for security purposes.