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Bill creating new state elections assistance officer passes Georgia Senate. Here’s what’s next
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The latest Hall County 2020 Presidential election recount begins Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, at the Hall County Elections Office. - photo by Scott Rogers

A bill that would create a chief elections assistance officer, a state employee who would work with local elections offices on training and evaluating voting processes, has passed the Georgia Senate.

Senate Bill 89 “represents an important step towards rectifying the distrust and doubt many Georgians currently feel in regards to our elections process,” Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said in a press release Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The new employee within the Secretary of State’s office “will have the authority to step in and evaluate the efficiency of the administration of elections in our counties and be empowered with the authority to, if necessary, intervene and enact recommended changes.”

“I am proud that this legislation received passage in the Senate and I look forward to working with our colleagues in the House to see this important bill become law.”

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Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville. - photo by Nick Bowman

When asked about the bill, Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said, “At this point, we have not had time to thoroughly review the legislation as passed, so it would not be prudent to comment on it at this time.”

Tom Smiley, chairman of the Hall County Board of Elections and Registration, said that based on his review of a draft of the bill, “it seems to be a good idea, because it gives additional resources for the Secretary of State’s Office to help manage, direct and encourage local (election) boards and departments.”

The county elections board is questioning whether a 2018 amendment to elections department structure might have been improper, meeting Monday, Feb. 22, on the issue. 

However, Smiley said he believes that issue would fall outside the concerns of the new state officer.

“This person or persons would work for the secretary of state and would help local departments that are struggling to be efficient, operate smoothly and so forth,” he said.