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How election board would streamline voting in Hall's cities
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Voters come out to Gainesville Exploration Academy Friday, May 22, 2020, to cast their ballot for the June 9 primary. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Hall County Board of Elections and Registration has proposed a plan that, if approved, could create a more uniform elections process and duties for Hall County and the eight city governments in its borders.

Hall spokesperson Katie Crumley said the other governments  —  the cities of Gainesville, Flowery Branch, Lula, Clermont, Oakwood, Buford, Gillsville and Braselton — and the Hall County Board of Commissioners are likely to act on the agreement by the end of June.

At an April 13 elections board meeting, board members discussed that municipalities would be responsible for qualifying and filing candidates with the state ethics committee. The elections board and county elections officials would be tasked with providing elections equipment and software and certifying final election results.

The municipal qualifying period runs Aug. 16-20, and municipalities are required to hold at least a three-day window for candidates to qualify that week.

Hall County Elections Director Lori Wurtz said the proposed changes are meant to create a more uniform local elections process that has previously been done differently in municipalities through individual agreements.

Board member David Cochran noted that cities in the past have conducted their elections differently. Wurtz confirmed that the final certification of votes and results of races would lie with the elections board and county staff.

“This document does clean everything up significantly and it would definitely be a great move to have the same document apply to all municipalities,” Wurtz said. “We want to provide the same services to each municipality and tally the votes the same way we would conduct the county elections.”

If signed off by all other cities, this agreement, according to Wurtz, would be in place for the next six years.

Previous agreements with Hall County municipalities and elections boards regarding the management of city elections were renewable after each election cycle.

Wurtz said the agreement would also allow municipalities to use the latest elections machines used in the 2020 general election for upcoming municipal elections.

If all cities agree, the matter then goes to the Board of Commissioners for final approval. 

Denise Jordan, Gainesville city clerk and elections official for the city, said that Tuesday’s meeting was the first she heard about the proposed intergovernmental agreement.

“I understand the thought process of having a unified agreement for all of the municipalities,” Jordan said. “I would like to say that Gainesville being the largest municipality in Hall County that there are some things that we may need, that other (municipalities) may not need.”

The intergovernmental agreement language has not been finalized, Crumley told to The Times.

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