BOE pushing Department of Justice Apalachee, Buckhead polling change
DuPree calls for greater diversity among poll workers
By Patrick Yost
The Morgan County Board of Elections is facing a four month, compressed deadline to officially get registered voters in two precincts moved to the geographically closer polling places.
At the board’s monthly meeting last Thursday, the board was told by board chairman John Milliken that the Department of Justice had rejected the board’s application that included addresses and names of voters that would make the move.
The Department of Justice, Milliken said, required maps showing the two areas affected. “They want a map. They need pictures,” he said.
The board has proposed that 249 voters from the Bostwick/ Apalachee area be moved back to the Apalachee Precinct and that 255 voters from the Bethany/ Springfield area be moved back to the Buckhead precinct.
The affected voters were initially moved in 2005, in part, said Sue DoorenBos, Morgan County deputy registrar to eliminate “split” election ballots where precinct lines didn’t follow county commission and school board district lines. In effect, some precinct had to segregate two county races at one voting precinct.
However, Milliken said, complaints from both districts have prompted the board to set precinct lines back to historical boundaries. Milliken was told by Bobby Howington, Morgan County Elections supervisor, that the board could not respond to the Department of Justice because maps from county workers had not been made available. “I don’t think people in general have understood the ramification of procrastinating on this. The voters out there are up in arms,” Milliken said.
Howington said as soon as the maps were made available the board could convene a special called meeting to approve the maps and authorize delivery to the Justice Department. However, DoorenBos said, it typically takes two months for Justice Department approval and another month for voter notification at the county level.
Advanced voting for the July 15 General Primary election will begin in late March or early April, DoorenBos said, and changes would have to be effective prior to advanced voting.
“The people in these two communities have been very upset,” Milliken said.
The board also said it would respond to a letter of concern written to the board from Buckhead resident Daisy Benford. Benford complained in her letter that she was not allowed to vote in the recent Presidential Primary because she did not have an actual photo ID. In the letter she said she had a photo copy of her driver’s license. She also requested that the board provide more training for poll workers and provide more African–American poll workers.
The letter sparked a lively debate, primarily between Milliken and board member Lauren DuPree.
Milliken said he had received a call from a Buckhead poll worker regarding the lack of ID and had responded personally. When he arrived, he said, Benford had left. He said she had been told she could vote with a provisional ballot and that the vote would be counted if she produced a photo ID within two days of the election.
“It’s playing a race card,” Milliken said. “I’m slightly offended that we had the race card pulled on us. We followed the law. That’s all we did.”
DuPree said the letter did raise a concern she has had for more than a year regarding promoting diversity in poll workers. “I’m using her point to say we need to expand the poll workers pool in terms of age, race and experience…”
DuPree said the board needed to respond to Benford’s concern with an explanation of the voter ID requirements, with assurance that the issue was reviewed and, DuPree said, “assure her we are seeking greater diversity in our poll workers. That is our goal.”
In other Board of Election business the board:
• Announced that it had issued a contract to the City of Bostwick to run future Bostwick elections. At the Bostwick City Council meeting two weeks ago, the city council unanimously agreed to contract with the Morgan County Board of Elections to run future Bostwick elections.