State lawmakers consider consolidating Chatham Co. election-related boards

Updated: Feb. 1, 2021 at 4:25 PM EST
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia State Representative Ron Stephens said the local delegation is considering introducing legislation that would combine the Chatham County Board of Elections and the Board of Registrars.

Most counties in Georgia combine the various elections duties into one department. Chatham County is the largest county in the state that still has a separate Board of Elections and Board of Registrars.

Board of Elections Chairman Tom Mahoney says both boards are operating as efficiently as ever and working well with each other. But he adds combining the two entities might help clear up the public’s confusion about what components of an election each is responsible for.

“If only to resolve the confusion in the public, that’s why we’ve been open to discussing combination of the Boards, and how’s the best way to do that,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney said even though they’re considering combining the boards, he would like to see a continuation of the division of responsibilities between the offices.

Board of Registrars Chairman Colin McRae says the average voter likely wouldn’t even notice a change if the boards were combined.

“Behind the scenes there may be some changes to the process of absentee ballot handovers, maybe even staffing of polling places,” McRae said.

As for the makeup of a combined board, McRae explains what he and his fellow board members would like to see.

“Bigger picture, we would like the appointment process and the eventual combined board that would come out of this, should truly reflect Chatham County as a whole. Whether that be geographically, ethnically, racially, viewpoint diversity...I think all three of those are very important for whatever board emerges from the combination if it does happen,” McRae said.

McRae also said he doesn’t think this legislation is being introduced because of any problems or shortcomings of the office.

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