COVINGTON, Ga. — Angela White-Davis had a seven-year course in conducting Newton County elections before assuming her new role leading its voting office.
She also has seen the county's growth since 2013 lead to a surge in voter registrations — 35% in four years — as well as the increased popularity of advance voting in recent years and absentee voting this year.
All that prepared her for the challenges of the Jan. 5 runoff, which is her first election since her promotion to county elections director.
White-Davis began her job as director Dec. 7 after serving for five years as assistant director for her predecessor, Angela Mantle.
A native of Walker County, White-Davis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in management from Jacksonville State University and worked 20 years in retail business.
She began her involvement with Newton County elections as a part-time poll worker in 1999.
In 2013, she was hired for a staff position with the elections office and was promoted to assistant director in 2015 after Mantle replaced longtime director Donna Morrison.
White-Davis now oversees a staff of two fulltime and one part-time employees including her replacement as assistant director, Sharon Gregg, who is the former assistant director in the Walton County Elections Office.
She also will direct about 200 temporary poll workers who work during in-person advance voting and on Election Day; and a team of contract workers who check voter registrations and process absentee ballots before they are counted.
More than three times more absentee ballots were cast this year compared to past elections as voters dealt with fears of contracting COVID-19 during in-person voting.
"That has been a great, great help," said White-Davis, in reference to the availability of contract workers.
Phil Johnson, chairman of the Newton County Board of Elections, said White-Davis was the most qualified person for the position based on her years of experience in the office.
Mantle also recommended her for the job, Johnson said.
“She is a tireless worker,” he said.
Gregg, who has 15 years of experience in conducting elections, sought the job as assistant director, Johnson said.
He said Gregg was “a real find” for Newton County because of her experience and certification from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
Gregg’s employment will give Newton County’s elections office the administrative “backup” it needs in case White-Davis is unavailable because it is required to have a certified director for its elections, Johnson said.
The Newton County Board of Elections directs the work of the elections office, which coordinates federal, state and county elections. It also operates municipal elections under agreements with the five cities.
The office also works with everyone from the county school system to private organizations like churches for location of polling places for voting on Election Day and advance voting.