BOARD OF ASSESSOR AGENDA, SEPTEMBER 4, 2018
Meeting notice for Sept. 12, 2016
Qualifying to run for a local city council seat will begin on Monday, Aug. 31, at 8:30 a.m. and will run through 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4.
The cities of Attapulgus, Bainbridge and Climax, and the Town of Brinson are scheduled to hold municipal elections on Nov. 3. Persons seeking to run for office need to qualify in order to be on the ballot.
Qualifying will begin on Monday, Aug. 31, at the Decatur County Board of Elections and Voter Registration’s office located at 122 W. Water St., which is in the Courthouse Annex across the street from the Firehouse Gallery. It will end on Friday, Sept. 4, at 4:30 p.m.
Among some of the qualifications for running for office in those municipalities are you must be a registered voter and you must be a resident of the city or within the district which you intend to run in.
Candidates must also pay the qualifying fee outlined by each municipality, or a candidate may file a pauper’s affidavit in lieu of paying the qualifying fee. No cash can be accepted for the qualifying fee; please only check or money order.
The following are the seats and qualifying fees for each municipality in Decatur County:
Attapulgus – The Mayor and all Council seats are up for election. The qualifying fee for Mayor is $35 and for a Council seat is $18.
Bainbridge – There are three Aldermen seats up for election this year; Seat 4, District A, and Seat 5 and Seat 6, both in District B. The qualifying fee an Alderman seat is $90.
Brinson – The Mayor and Council seats Post 1 and Post 3 are up for election this year. The qualifying fee for Mayor is $72 and $43.20 for Council seats.
Climax – Two Council seats are up for election this year. The qualifying fee is $20.
For more information, please call the Board of Elections and Voter Registration at (229) 243-2087.
The following are just some of the forms candidates may have to fill out in order to qualify:
- Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit. This form must be filled out correctly, notarized and kept with the Chief Elections Official. It must be presented during the timeframe of qualifying.
- Personal Financial Disclosure Statement. This form must be filled out correctly within 15 days of qualifying, and then given to the City Clerk of the city the candidate is qualifying in.
- Affidavit of a Candidate’s Intent Not to Exceed $2,500 in Contributions and/or Expenditures. This is one of several Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission reports that are necessary during an election cycle. If you intent to spend or raise more than $2,500, this form will not be the correct one. Please check with the City Clerk or staff at the Decatur County Board of Elections and Voter Registration on the various forms required for campaign contributions.
No matter what time of year, there’s always something fun going on around Decatur County. These events are usually held in the month they are listed, but those dates are subject to change. For more information on events in Decatur County, call the Bainbridge Convention and Visitors Bureau at 229.243.8555 or the Chamber of Commerce at 229.246.4774.
- Rattlesnake Roundup (Whigham)
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration
- Chamber Banquet
- Bainbridge Rotary Club Fundraiser
- Sam Howell “Pars for Paws” Golf Tournament
- Father-Daughter Dance
- Opening Ceremonies for Bainbridge Baseball and Softball
- Lake Seminole Festival
- River Town Days
- City Easter Egg Hunt
- Relay for Life of Decatur County
- Special Olympics
- Memorial Hospital Foundation Fundraiser
- Climax Flag Day Celebration
- Bainbridge 4th of July Celebration
- Bainbridge-Decatur County Council for the Arts Art Camp
- Bainbridge High School football opens it’s season
- Opening of the 2015-2016 school year
- YMCA Denim and Diamonds event
- Bainbridge Bikefest
- Barks and Bones Masquerade Ball
- Pumpkins in the Park at Willis Park
- Decatur County Fall Fair
- Mule Day (in Calvary)
- Agriculture Appreciation Luncheon
- Veterans Day Celebration at Willis Park
- Holiday Open House
- Swine Time in Climax
- Christmas on the River
- Christmas Parade
- The Field by Night at Grace Christian Academy
- Christmas Eve in the Park
Decatur County Board of Elections and Voter Registration board members honored long-serving poll workers on June 9 during their regular monthly meeting.
During the ceremony, the audience and board members heard from those poll workers with decades of service having to count paper ballots at their polling location with little light, or no air-conditioning or heat, and some with no facilities or restrooms.
But what the board members found most amazing was that these workers would agree to work election after election – some for more than 30 or even 40 years. But the one poll worker who was most amazing was Fannie Boutwell, who had worked for more than 60 years as a poll worker.
Bobby Davis, who has served more than 30 years, said he first started working as a poll worker in what he called a “little ole shack” with the only lights being kerosene lamps he brought it and with no facilities. He commended the board for revamping all the polling locations in the county, where the nine locations now have lights and restrooms.
“It’s been a long road and I don’t know if I will keep going with it,” said Davis, who currently serves as the poll manager for the Mount Pleasant polling location. “It gets pretty rough sometimes. We are all just grateful for what you have done for us.”
But it was the members of the board who were impressed with the poll workers, expressing how their longevity, dedication and hard work have made elections in the county run relatively smooth over the years.
“The election system in Decatur County is not us,” said Elections Board Chairman Wendell Cofer. “It’s really you all. Every two years, we call you and ask you to take two or three days out of your lives and come up and preserve democracy.”
Board member Keith Sellars said he was amazed at not only those who have 10 to 20 years, but was “absolutely stunned that we have had several people that have 40 years and one with 60 years.”
“That is just unheard of with anything today,” Sellars said. “I just want to commend each and every single one of you for your dedication. You do this for your love of the community, and we probably don’t tell you enough but we do appreciate you very deeply.”
The following poll workers were honored by the Board of Elections and Voter Registration:
• Fannie Boutwell, who is the only one retired of those honored, for more than 60 years;
• Mary Jacobs, Janelle Nelson and Anna R. Washington for more than 40 years;
• A.E. Hester for more than 35 years;
• Bobby Davis and Frances Gray for more than 30 years;
• Ethel Fuller and Danny R. Harrell for more than 25 years;
• Susie McCroan for more than 20 years;
• Sammie Battle, Jean Givens and Maxine Medley for more than 15 years; and,
• Margaret Bryant, Georgette Burke, Alvada Chandler, Zack Calhoun, Gloria Harrell, Betty Jackson, Wanda Matthews, Janet Mitchell, Lois Rowan and Larry Stubbs for more than 10 years.
For every election, there’s a small army of citizens who devote their day to being the “greeters” of our democracy.
On most election days beginning at 6 a.m., this group of citizens are readying all nine of Decatur County’s polling locations stretched throughout the county, and these citizens are there for the whole day and into the night.
They are poll workers, and they are there to ensure voters seamlessly exercise their sacred right.
In Georgia on Election Day, poll workers are the state’s largest one-day workforce with more than 9,500 citizens who had to be trained in their duties for the day. In the 2008 presidential election, more than 15,000 were needed in the state.
Nationally, poll workers augment the workforce by more than 2 million for that one special day.
During the upcoming 2016 election season, expect those numbers to be large, and once again, the troops of that small army to be ready at their posts.
Charlie Laing, the poll manager for the Coliseum polling location, said: “One of the things that amazed me is the amount of energy that goes into making sure that everyone who is qualified to vote gets to vote. I think that’s the biggest thing that I have learned is how far elections people will go to make sure that if you are registered you get a chance to vote.”
Doris White, the chief elections official for the county, said she appreciates all the hard work and long hours poll workers put in. Also, the level of professionalism they exhibit is understanding because of the many laws and procedures that must be followed.
“The people we have right now do an excellent job,” White said, adding that there’s always room for others. “For the most part, everybody does a fine job, otherwise we couldn’t function.”
Laing, who works during the advance voting period and on Election Day, has worked at the polls for three years.
“It’s really kind of amazing that you can take a bunch of people from all different walks of life and backgrounds, and they all come together, and boom, you’ve got an election going. And, it goes off without a hitch. That’s pretty amazing,” he said.
A lot of changes over the years
A few of the county’s poll workers have been working at the polls for more than 40 years. One former worker, Fannie Boutwell, 88, served 60 years in the now-closed Parker Courthouse.
From 1949 to 2009, Boutwell said when she first started working at Parker, there was no heat, no bathroom and no running water at the polling location. Also, ballots were on paper that were stuffed into cans with slits on the top, and then had to be hand counted.
She also remembers that working the polls was similar to a social gathering when she and her female coworkers would make cookies, cakes and other goodies to have ready for the voters.
“A lot of people, when they came to vote, would come in and ask what kind of cookies I made,” Boutwell said.
She remembered one election when the lights went off at the old Parker Courthouse, and Boutwell, her late husband, Roy, and another poll worker took the ballots to her dining room table to be counted.
A lot has changed in those 60 years.
Offering food or any other enticement to vote is now a no-no, and trying to improvise like Boutwell said they had to years ago would now get someone in big-time trouble.
Furthermore, they say the changes that have been made over the years are for the betterment. The transitions from paper ballots to the shoup-lever machines to the current touchscreens have been positive. Even moving from the old paper electors’ list to the current Express Poll machines and scanners to check voters in has been better, poll workers say.
Janelle Nelson, who is the poll manager at the Fairgrounds polling location and during the advanced voting period, has been working with the county’s elections office for more than 40 years.
“There have all been good experiences and the more you work, you learn from it,” said Nelson, who retired from Winn-Dixie after 43 years in 1995. “You never get too old to learn. One of the most memorable times was when we had early voting for the first year President Obama ran. That was really a good experience because it was just an overflow of traffic and people coming in voting.”
During that election, advanced voting was held at the Board of Elections and Registrations’ office located in the Courthouse Annex on West Water Street. After that election, the advanced voting location was changed to the Fairgrounds.
Zack Calhoun, who has served as a poll worker for more than 10 years, said the ability to scan a driver’s license and then the voter’s name instantly appears, ready to have a card created for that voter to cast his ballot, is one of the best advancements in voting.
“One of the biggest changes is ID and being able to scan the ID,” Calhoun said. “To me, that’s been one of the biggest helps. It doesn’t work all the time, but 99 percent of the time, it works. You can take a driver’s license and put it up there and it shows you who you have in front of you and everything. It pops up and you can confirm that’s him. I think that’s one of the biggest changes and for the better too.”
Another change for the better is advanced voting, which at first they didn’t think would go over well, Calhoun said.
“But as the years go by, I think it has gotten stronger. People appreciate it,” Calhoun said. “But some people are diehards and like to go to the polling places on Election Day, but one of things I like about early voting is you can go and get through with it.”
Besides Election Day and advanced voting, a voter can now request a mail-in absentee ballot that is available to all voters, and the voter doesn’t have to get a reason for the request. There is even online voter registration available and a smartphone app that has a sample ballot, links to candidates’ websites, directions to advanced and Election Day polling locations and a way to request an absentee ballot.
Mary Jacobs, 76, has worked the polls for more than 40 years. Each election, she said she has a big smile on her face and tons of “hellos” for the voters at the Coliseum.
“I really feel like I have served my community,” Jacob said.
She said when the touchscreen voting machines replaced the old shoup-lever machines, and the Express Poll machines replaced the thick books of all the elector names listed, it all amazed her.
“We have come so far,” she said.
Sammie Battle had retired from Memorial Hospital after 37 years, and when the opportunity was offered to her to demonstrate the touchscreen voting machines throughout the county shortly after their introduction following the 2000 election, she jumped at it.
“It was just interesting to me. I had cooked all my life at the hospital, and I didn’t want another job involving cooking, but I wanted to work. I really wasn’t ready to come home, sit down and not do nothing.”
One change was from within
Kourtney Anderson, 24, said the biggest change she saw was within herself.
She started working as a poll worker when she was 16. She said former county Elections Official Erica Hamilton, who now works as the Elections System Manager for the Secretary of State’s Office in Atlanta, gave a lecture on voting during one of Anderson’s American history classes at the high school, and it sparked an interest.
“I was interested because that was something that caught my eye. My family wasn’t the type to vote, like my momma and daddy didn’t vote much. We didn’t talk about politics much,” Anderson said. “I actually have gotten into it a little bit. I understand why people need to vote. Before, I knew nothing about voting, or I knew about it but not like now. I didn’t think it was as important to vote like I do now.”
Anderson said she convinced her parents, James and Alesia Hudson, to become regular voters and in fact talked her mother into working at the polls on occasion.
Now Anderson is trying to get younger people to vote.
“Maybe I could get other young people to vote because a lot of young people don’t vote,” Anderson said. “It’s actually easier to vote now, but they still haven’t gotten the idea to go vote.”
Anderson, who works as a 911 operator for Decatur County, echoes what many of the poll workers say are their greatest satisfaction of working the polls – the people.
“I get joy of helping people and seeing other people voting; knowing that they are willing to make a difference,” Anderson said. “I actually like the polls, meeting people, talking with them and getting their input on things that are going on in the world.”
Poll workers are paid for their time. They must familiarize themselves with the law and procedures of working at a polling location, and there are certain minimum requirements they must meet, such as be at least 16 years old, and read, write and speak English. They also must take an oath that they will conduct the election in a fair, lawful and impartial manner.
If you have questions about becoming a poll worker, registering to vote or even if you are interested in running for public office, contact the Decatur County Board of Elections and Registration at (229) 243-2087.
To register to vote, go to https://registertovote.sos.ga.gov/GAOLVR for the online voter registration service. You may also register to vote at the Georgia Department of Driver Services office at 101 Airport Road in Bainbridge, or by coming by the Elections Office located at 122 W. Water St. in Bainbridge.
To get the smartphone app, go The App Store and search for “GA Votes.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.
The voting age was lowered to 18 from 21 in 1971 with the passage of the 26th Amendment. Congress and the necessary 38 states passed the amendment in three months, the fastest passage of any amendment in U.S. history.
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