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Elections board: Private opinions on redistricting OK
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IN BRIEF: The role of elections board members as private citizens during the redistricting process, the public comments process, and whether or not to televise the interview process for candidates for the third member seat were discussed during today's elections board meeting.

Assistant Elections Supervisor Renee Phifer reported that the elections office would be visiting various counties, such as Fayette and Fulton counties, to look at their digital records system. Phifer said Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch had identified contingency funds that might be used towards a digital system, about $41,000, if there was no special elections held this year.

Regarding upcoming redistricting town halls and process, Elections Board Chairman and Democrat appointed member Garvin Haynes said, "I would caution the Board of Elections Members from expressing opinions at these meetings."

Republican appointed member Lynn Brown asked for clarification. "Normally a board of Elections member can't have an opinion on something that would be a vote or a ballot issue. Redistricting is not a ballot issue," said Brown.

"It is an issue we're going to have to deal with," said Haynes.

Third member Cary Bond said "We as individuals can express opinions all day long, as long as we don't stand up and say I represent the Board of Elections of Rockdale." He made a motion, which passed 2-1 with Haynes voting against, that elections board members not speak as board members at redistricting town halls public comments.

There was also some discussion over whether the review process for candidates qualifications should be televised or done in executive session. Haynes expressed concern with doing that in executive session. Brown asked for more information. The descision on that was deferred until more information from Welch and the elections office staff could be obtained.

Several residents also expressed dissatisfaction with having public comments only at the beginning and end of the meeting and not throughout the meeting, as was formerly done under the previous elections board chairman.