Several items were pulled from a rather lengthy consent agenda at the Glynn County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday night, and one involving how the county deals with voter registration shed light on a process that could be called rather antiquated.
During the public comment period, Jeff Kilgore directed attention to a number of items on the commissioners’ consent agenda and questioned the called-for spending. That included No. 7 on the agenda, which was a request for approval to hire “two temporary full-time employees for the Board of Elections for the span of one calendar year to scan registration cards into their electronic system and increase the BOE (Fiscal Year 2019) budget in the amount of $40,716 with funding to be provided from the County Manager’s Contingency Fund.”
Kilgore questioned why the county couldn’t just get a digital file from the Secretary of State’s Office, and wondered why there would need to be staff for a year, when by his experience, it shouldn’t take more than four months.
Commissioner Bob Coleman requested that item be pulled from the consent agenda, along with items asking for $85,000 for temporary staff for the Property Assessor’s Office and a resolution to amend the FY 2018-19 budget.
County Manager Alan Ours said he received a call from Board of Elections member Tyler Clark in early November asking for additional staff to handle scanning of 57,000 voter registration cards, which needed to be completed ahead of the 2020 elections. Ours said that Clark told him if the work was completed before the span of a year, that they could end the temporary employment of those extra workers.
Also, the workers scanning those registrations would be able to check to make sure that the voters in question are alive and living in the county.
Commissioner Michael Browning said he went down to the elections office after the general election in November, and apprised himself of the situation at hand, and said after going through the matter with staff, that it probably should have been addressed earlier.
“The big issue in verifying voters is that the voter information in Glynn County has always been kept on voter registration cards — on a piece of paper,” Browning said. “Voter information, with a signature. And you have votes, provisional votes or any other kind of vote that comes in that’s not out of the machine, they have to go back and check that information, where a vote has to be verified. All that’s done manually here in Glynn County.
“And there is a room — I’ll invite anybody to go down and look at it — but there is a room that is chock full of everybody that has ever registered to vote in Glynn County, that their registration for some good reason hasn’t been purged already. And apparently we have some that are, Commissioner Murphy talked about, sounds like they should be purged, the age that these voters apparently are today.
“But what’s happening there is, every time we have to approve — I say approve, every time the Board of Elections has to verify a vote, they have to go in that room and pull that card. I mean, you need to go in there and look at it. I was amazed that there were that many registrations in Glynn County. It is tends of thousands of them. And I’m sure they have been struggling with this for years, after seeing what I saw a couple weeks ago.”
The commissioners approved the outlay with a 6-1 vote, with Coleman casting the no vote. Commissioners also unanimously approved the money for the assessor and for the budget amendment.
They went into executive session while discussing giving a right-of-way permits to Sea Island Acquisition to lay fiber-optic cable within the right-of-way of Sea Island Road and Frederica Road, and when the commissioners returned, they approved that, with Coleman dissenting.
Adoption of the Sunday brunch amendment, which was approved by voters to allow alcohol consumption at restaurants beginning at 11 a.m. on Sundays, was approved 5-2, with Coleman and Commissioner Bill Brunson casting no votes.