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Cities to make decision on municipal elections agreement soon
10222020 BALLOT 2.jpg
Hall County's elections board and staff process absentee ballots Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. The process involves verifying signatures and placing ballots in batches for counting. Votes won't actually be tabulated until Election Day. - photo by Scott Rogers

In the coming weeks and months, Hall County municipalities will make a decision on how best to run the upcoming local elections.

One alternative is a six-year intergovernmental agreement proposed by the Hall County elections board that would streamline and uniform the local elections process for each city.

“The main objective in writing the new (agreement) has been to provide for consistency in conducting all municipal elections,” said Hall County Elections Director Lori Wurtz. “Since we could be conducting up to six separate elections at one time, having unified agreements in place to streamline where possible will be crucial to meeting deadlines.”

Deals made between the county and cities on delegating elections were done individually leading to a “less uniform” elections process, county elections board members said during their April 13 meeting.

According to the agreement, cities would be in charge of:

  • Qualifying candidates

  • Acting as filing officer for all financial statements with the State Ethics Commission

  • Review and approve all calls of election prepared by the Elections Board for accuracy prior to Publication; 

The elections board would be in charge of certifying final results and providing each municipality under the agreement with new and upgraded elections machines.

“The Elections Board shall be responsible for providing all election materials … to insure that required municipal elections shall be conducted in a safe, efficient, secure, and orderly fashion,” an excerpt from the agreement reads.

Municipalities have the option to decline the deal or do an individual deal with the county, Wurtz said. The Hall County Commissioners expected to look at the contract in June.

Tom Smiley, Hall County elections board chair said that the intergovernmental agreement is a “unique” way to ensure that each municipality is on the same page.

“My sense is it is all about getting everyone we serve on the same page and establishing a good understanding of who is responsible for what,” said Smiley.

At their Monday, Feb. 13 City Council meeting, Lula officials approved of the preliminary model of the agreement, with intentions to sign the agreement when the formal contract is on their agenda in May. 

Lula City Manager Dennis Bergen said that local voting could benefit from new equipment and upgraded infrastructure that was used in recent election cycles.

“The city has enjoyed the partnership with the election board for some time and has utilized their services on any number of occasions,” said Bergen.