A petition to recall Lula Mayor Joe Thomas and Councilman Gene Bramlett is expected to go before Hall County’s Board of Elections Tuesday for certification.
Lula business owner Amanda Browning, the head of the movement to remove the two men from office, submitted to elections officials a petition of more than 100 signatures from residents on Wednesday, March 29.
Hall County Board of Elections Chair Jack Noa said elections officials will begin to review and verify signatures on the petition before Tuesday’s executive meeting. Official certification could take up to 48 hours, he said, and the board will likely determine legal sufficiency or insufficiency of grounds for the recall by Wednesday.
“Each signature has to be verified…once that’s verified, then the board will have an executive meeting,” Noa said. “We’ll go back through each one of them, and make sure what they found was correct.”
According to the state Recall Act of 1989, if at least 100 signatures (or 10% of the number of voters registered to vote at the last preceding election) on the petition are verified, an official call for a special recall election will be issued 10 days after the receipt of certification.
The Recall Act of 1989 states that once the declaration for a recall election is made by officials, a special election will be held “not less than 30 nor more than 45 days” thereafter. If a special election is called, registered voters within the city of Lula will decide whether to remove Thomas and Bramlett from office.
Noa said a special recall election will be conducted like any other electoral process, though elections officials will have to work within a shorter timeframe to prepare.
“We’ll have to figure out how much equipment (and people) we need – we’ll have to put that all together,” he said. “It’s exactly like any election – all the equipment and anything you do is exactly the same.”
Language in the act affords Thomas and Bramlett some time for rebuttal, stating the elected officials to be recalled may “petition the superior court…to review the sufficiency of the grounds for recall” within four business days after the application is submitted for verification.
Neither Thomas nor Bramlett could be reached for comment on whether they plan to challenge the recall process before the board convenes Tuesday.
Browning told The Times that she and fellow supporters of the recall movement experienced both subtle and brazen forms of intimidation last week as they petitioned for signatures in downtown Lula. The Recall Act of 1989 states that any attempt to intimidate or threaten individuals involved in a recall is illegal.
“We had three women that came in, demanding to look at the signatures. That’s not how this works…we’re (not allowed) to share that with anybody.”
Browning said the three women never provided their names but returned at separate times throughout the week, stating, “I had one woman that actually came in on Monday, Tuesday, and then on Sunday.”
Browning said the other two women returned Friday and Saturday to question her about signatures on the petition.
Browning said she’s spoken to elections officials about the incidents.
The executive meeting between Hall County’s Board of Elections will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, at the Hall County Government Center.