Stephens County Board of Election members express concerns about Election Office processes

In response to complaints and concerns from individuals, candidates, organizations and the Secretary of State's Office, Stephens County Commissioners requested information and assurances from Board of Elections members. A copy of the joint reply from the board's Democratic and Republican representatives is included.

Full Disclosure: This article includes references by officials to a formal complaint lodged by ConnectLocal/editor Jessica Waters regarding lack of access to public information from the Stephens County Elections office. A notarized copy of that complaint was requested by the Secretary of State's office as part of the ongoing investigation. A copy of that notarized complaint is included at the bottom of this article.

This morning’s vote recount for the Georgia Senate District 50 Runoff race between Republicans Stacy Hall and Bo Hatchett confirmed Stephens County’s election night’s results, but also highlighted an ongoing level of miscommunication and procedural conflict with citizens and local political organizations, and within the Stephens County Election Office and the Stephens County Board of Elections.

According to Stephens County Board of Election member Sean Black, there was a limited attempt to hamper Election Board members’ first-hand observation of this morning’s recount process

“She (Stephens County Registrar Eureka Gober) didn't attempt to keep us from observing the recount, but she wanted us (Black and Board of Elections member Lori DukeJones) to be in the jury box, which is outside of the room where the recount was taking place. It was my position, and I explained to her, that the Board could be in the room if they chose, and we were choosing to stand at the doorway to give them more room to work. She (Gober) alluded to the fact that her election liaison in Atlanta had told her (that she could keep them from entering the room where the counting was taking place), and said she could call that person,” Black said.

After Board of Election members and the Stephens County GOP Chair Rebeckah Bennett spoke with representatives from the Secretary of State’s Office, Gober allowed the Board of Election members to observe the recount from the doorway to the room and did not contact her liaison with the Secretary of State’s office, according to Black.

This morning’s occurrence follows on the heels of complaints issued by both Bennett and Senate District 50 candidate Stacy Hall regarding the processes followed by the Stephens County Registrar during both the General Primary Election in June and the Runoff Election earlier this month.

ConnectLocal, last week, published a letter from Hall to Georgia Secretary of State Secretary Raffensperger, which stated, in part, “I can confirm that many voters who requested absentee ballots never received them while others received absentee ballots as late as the Monday prior to the election, making it impossible to meet the deadline.”

Bennett, as the local GOP chair, filed an official objection to the Stephens County Primary Runoff Election vote tabulation process, alleging deviations from Georgia Code regarding vote tabulation procedures.

Stephens County’s votes from the RunOff election were still showing as “uncertified” as late as midday on Monday, Aug. 17, after all other counties had been certified. According to Gober, her liaison at the Secretary of State’s Office, Robin Carr, said the delay was caused by a glitch in the reporting software that occurred on the Secretary of State’s end of the certification process, while Bennett and Election Board members state that they were told by the same representatives of the Secretary of State’s office that the glitch involved “operator error” on the Stephens County end of the process.

According to an email sent by Gober to Stephens County Adminstrator Phyllis Ayers, and to Bennett, Duke-Jones and Black:

“On last week I was told that our elections had not been certified, and also I was told that we were the last county to be certified. Well, today I found out that was not true, because there was a GLITCH IN THE SYSTEM on the Secretary State side from Robin Carr, she is with the Secretary of State Office. She informed me of the error. Stephens County was the only county the GLITCH AFFECTED. I just want you all to know that we did nothing wrong in certifying this election, we went by PROCEDURES.”

Bennett responded to Gober’s explanation in a letter addressed Gober, with copies to Carr, Stephens County Commissioners and Stephens County Administrator Phyllis Ayers:

Lori (Duke-Jones) & I, on a 3 way call, spoke with Robin (Carr) just moments after receiving your email and I read the email I received from you to Robin.

In her response to me she stated that the “glitch” you referred to in your email while technically is true that there was a “glitch,” it is also equally true to point out, the “glitch,” was caused by user error on the county side, according to Ms. Carr.

Additionally, Ms. Carr advised that the finalization error was generated by a pop up functionality that was not properly addressed when “canvassing the election”, Mrs. Carr stated this functionality has been part of the process for the many election cycles some of which I have personally observed.

In fact, when Bill Cochran was Registrar during the second Redo election of the HD28 election with court orders of Gasaway/Erwin; I watched this finalization process over the shoulder of Bill Cochran as he was walking you through the process for closing out the election results so they could be forwarded to SOS (Secretary of State’s office).

I also agreed with Robin, that in not following the correct procedural steps all the way to finalization, an error would occur that would prevent Stephens Co. from correcting the error and prevent the SOS from seeing the communication from the county level.

When Ms. Carr through the SOS Office realized that there was an issue with Stephens County, that is when you were notified of the problem. When an error of this nature occurs in only Stephens County because of user error, it is not enough to say, “I’ve never seen this before”, after being informed by Robin that it was user error that caused the problem.

Also, while the error is what kept the results from posting as “certified” on the SOS website, action taken without the full board’s knowledge, shows at the very least a lack of appreciation for the awkward position you have placed your fellow board members in at this point and time, under the matter at hand.

(Editor note: Board of Election members have verified to ConnectLocal that they were not advised that the county’s elections were ready to be certified, and did not sign off on the certification, as is normal procedure.)

Quite simply it appears to me there are too many processes that have not been fully followed and if the board, Elections Superintendent for Stephens County, is to maintain proper function as board members, I would think the board, or Election Superintendent, should be collectively made privy to any and all issues of this nature, especially since that is what the board has communicated to you in previous board meetings, from my understanding both sets of board members previous and current, hold this expectation/frustration with the process. Surely, you must realize how critical the flow of information, of this nature, is to communication transparency for the sake of election integrity for the board as our County Election Superintendents.

Your actions can only be seen as creating unnecessary questions for you and the board like:

1) Who actually completed this process?

2) When the pop up box occurred, what & whom asked and answered questions regarding how to proceed?

3) Who gave the orders to continue beyond this “pop up box” & what reasoning and/or explanation was given for why?

This whole matter speaks to communication and transparency which may be the larger concerns for all involved in the election process. I personally can attest these are the concerns voters express to the local party. For example, per my conversations with both board members on 8/19 at 8:30 a.m. they were not aware the election was certified. Per my communication with April Roberts, Deputy Registrar, Stephens Co. certified the election on Monday 8/17 at 5:05pm.

While I can agree that all of these processes are “new” to April Roberts as Stephens Co. Deputy Registrar, with her having very little to no prior experience with the election processes prior to being hired in the registrar’s office and gaining her credentials as a registrar; I do find it very alarming that as our Registrar there appears to be a lack of understanding of the processes and election protocols. This is what you were supposed to be doing when you functioned as Deputy Registrar under our previous Registrar to the extent that a letter of recommendation was written from the previous Registrar. I personally watched Bill Cochran train you on election process in the last two elections prior to his retirement.

I watched the previous board members reach out to Hart Co. and secure an agreement to ensure you had an experienced election official on site that could help you through the 3rd redo election, further ensuring that the integrity of the election process could be upheld.

Following this email, Carr followed up with a clarification email to Ayers:

I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you to clarify what has transpired regarding the certification of the election on August 11 for Stevens County as it seems I have been misquoted and want to make clear what occurred.

On Monday, August 24, as part of our good practices to ensure that all counties have certified and that we have the official and complete results, I noticed that Stephens County was not showing a certified in our system. I called the office after discovering this to walk them through the steps of how to complete this process so that the state could certify. Upon speaking with Ms. Eureka, Ms. April and the tech, Michael, they advised that there was an error that they were not able to click this button to be able to show as complete. Ms. April did advise that she was unfamiliar with this process is as well as Michael, however as the tech, I would not expect that Michael would have ever seen this before as this typically falls on the county employees to complete. I went in as Stephens County on my side and receive the same error. At this time I reached out to our systems guy who advised that he had never seen this error before and walked me through the steps to complete this on our side so that they could show as complete and we could move forward with the certification. At this time I thought this was the end of this as it has been corrected and I had made the systems person aware so he could look into it. Sadly as I have been made aware this morning, I was very wrong.

Monday afternoon I received a call from Ms. Lori and Ms. Rebeckah who had received an email from Ms. Eureka advising of the glitch, who advised me that they felt she was lying and wanted to know the truth about what transpired. I went over the above with them and thought we were on the same page that there was a glitch and that they were not in any trouble that we were only doing our due diligence at the state to ensure that everyone had taken all the proper steps for us to be able to certify. Unfortunately, this was far from the case, as demonstrated in the email to Ms. Eureka (from Bennett). As of this morning, It has been brought to my attention that they have now gone to the news with this. This was a very small matter that was handled Monday morning that has now progressed into something it definitely never had to be. I apologize for bringing you into this as well, however I did want it in writing and very clear exactly what happened to hopefully put an end to all of this as quickly as possible. If you have any questions or need anything further from me, please let me know and I will be happy to help in anyway possible.

The final paragraph states that the Secretary of States office is “still working to discover what this (glitch) actually means but it is on our side, not the county's. They were taking all appropriate steps to be able to certify."

The email from Carr does not address the issue of whether Stephens County election officials contacted the Secretary of State’s office upon encountering this glitch to obtain instruction on how to overcome the “glitch.” Per the statements by Carr, the "glitch" was not reported to the Secretary of State's office, and the Stephens County election results were left incomplete and unreported until the missing certification was discovered by the Secretary of State’s office at a later date when the certification for the entire state's election results was being processed.

The Secretary of State’s office did verify to ConnectLocal that there was a glitch in the verification system on Monday, Aug. 17 - a technical issue involving their system, and not local Stephens County equipment. The glitch was dealt with appropriately by the Stephens County Registrar, and the system has been fixed, according to Deputy Secretary Jordan Fuchs. However, Fuchs also confirmed that an investigation into practices, procedures and complaints regarding the Stephens County Registrar and Elections Office is currently being conducted by the Secretary of State’s Election Division.

In response to a Georgia Open Records Request, ConnectLocal has learned that numerous citizen complaints were lodged in the past several years with the Stephens County Commission regarding Gober’s performance as the Chief Registrar and elections official for the county.

On May 2, 2019, an official letter from Stephens County Administrator Phyllis Ayers and the Stephens County Board of Commissioners was entered into Gober’s personnel jacket, discussing citizen and government official complaints.

This letter is to discuss issues that have been observed in the elections office by citizens of the community as well as employees of the government during the elections and outside of the elections from the departure of the prior registrar to the date of the last election held on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

  • Office is disorganized.

  • Employees of the department are disorganized.

  • Cannot perform the election on your own, with the Hart County Registrar during the last election doing the hands-on tasks and you were at your desk when you should have been learning how to perform the task along with the trainer.

  • Part time employees doing nothing.

  • People counting absentee ballots that should not be doing this task.

  • No methodical process of performing the election.

  • Could not reconcile the absentee ballots as around 18 were misplaced or not accounted for properly at the last election.

  • Went to the Clary Center on the date of last election to get to absentee ballots that were supposed to be removed before accounting, but forgot to remove them.

  • Poll workers and part-time employees not knowing the role of assignment.

  • Was not available at the senior center while shutting down the machines.

  • Was not available at the senior center to monitor a candidate who is on the ballot, sitting in the inside of the area of no campaigning.

  • Have not followed up on answers to questions from elected officials.

  • Not able to locate documents in the office after serving in the office since December 27, 2016.

The above issues set forth for you to be able to perform the duties as registrar of Stephens County and it is expected that you and your staff be able to perform all functions of the elections office on your own and without additional assistance.

Additional assistance has been provided for two elections, however, you represented in your application that you can fulfill the duties of chief registrar, so it is expected that you fulfill those duties in connection with every future election.

Failure to correct these issues immediately can result in further disciplinary actions as set forth in section F–2 of the Stephens County employment handbook.

No further entry regarding these issues was included in Gober’s personnel jacket. However, ConnectLocal learned that additional complaints lodged with the Stephens County Commissioner’s Office and the Georgia Secretary Of State’s Office, including citizen complaints, candidate complaints and an official complaint regarding failure to provide public information to a media outlet, filed with the Secretary of State’s Office by ConnectLocal in March, prompted the initiation of an investigation by the Secretary of State’s Office – this investigation is still active and no findings have been issued.

These complaints also prompted a request from Stephens County Commissioners, sent through Stephens County Attorney Brian Ranck and addressed to the three members of the Stephens County Board of Elections – of which Gober is a member - asking for comments regarding the activities of the Stephens County Elections Office.

“Dear Ms. Gober, Mr. Black and Ms. Duke-Jones:

Up to the date of the June 29, 2020 election we received several complaints from the media, citizens and the Georgia Secretary of State. We made every effort to summarize those complaints and send those to the Board of Elections as they were received by staff of the Board of Commissioners and to me as County Attorney. We understand that some complaints were made directly to Ms. Gober and also to the Georgia Secretary of State. In addition to complaints we were made aware of several elections related errors and deficiencies by the Secretary of State’s Office, including, but not limited to:

  1. The failure to notify the Secretary of State and to publish/post notification of intent to begin the scanning of absentee ballots in advance of election night under the process recently adopted to allow counties additional time given the higher volume of absentee ballots as a result of Covid- 19;

  2. After being made aware of the above requirements for early scanning, the notice that was posted incorrectly stated that early “counting” would take place versus “scanning” as allowed by the new rules; and

  3. Sending out of incorrect ballots with regard to the Stephens County Board of Education. The ballots with regard to the Board of Education candidates were sent to some electors without the Board of Election candidates on the ballot despite the fact that those are county-wide at large elections.

The above are examples of issues brought to our attention by the Secretary of State and is not an exhaustive list of the complaints received. The Board of Commissioners needs assurance that these errors and the complaints that were made to the County will be addressed by the Board of Elections and will not present a problem with future elections. The Board is also wanting assurance that the Board of Elections is regularly meeting and providing property oversight to County elections. The Elections Department has more resources than ever allocated to that Department, including more budgeted funds for staffing than ever provided in the past. The Board is now asking for assurance that those funds are being utilized effective and that complaints and errors are being addressed and remedied as appropriate.

Although the errors and deficiencies set forth above were brought to our attention by the Secretary of State, in each instance there was no direct harm resulting from the errors and they were not deemed material enough for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office to take further action. Fortunately, the Board of Education candidates were unopposed. Had those been contested races, the failure to include all candidates on the ballots could have jeopardized the validity of the elections. Simply put, the same error under different circumstances could have invalidated the election. The Board of Commissioners would like assurance that errors like those above are being addressed and steps taken to avoid further errors of this nature. This will also allow us to advise the Superintendent for Schools and their legal counsel that the issue has been properly addressed.

Again, we hereby request assurance in writing from the Board of Elections that each and every complaint or elections-related problem that was brought to your attention and/or the attention of Ms. Gober as Chief Registrar are being adequately addressed. Further, we are requesting assurance that your Board is meeting in accordance with the Bylaws and in accordance with State law to provide adequate oversight of Ms. Gober’s operation of the office so that we can provide the public, elected officials, and the Secretary of State's Office the assurance that our Board of Elections is doing everything possible to ensure that these issues do not arise in connection with future elections and that our board is operating in accordance with law with proper oversight of the day-to-day operations of the Elections Department.

Again, it is our request that this assurance be provided to the Stephens County Board of Commissioners in writing. Our office is available if at any time there are legal issues or questions that arise, so please do not hesitate to call on us. If you have any questions or need additional information regrading complaints received by the Board of Commissioners and Staff, please let us know.,

Through a Georgia Open Records Request, ConnectLocal has obtained the response provided jointly by the Democratic representative on the Board of Elections, Sean Black, and the Republican representative on the Board of Elections, Lori Duke-Jones.

Below is a verbatim copy of that communication, dated July 21. Clarification notes supplied by Stephens County Attorney Brian Ranck are included .

I am writing you on behalf of Lori Duke Jones and myself as the two appointed members of the Stephens County Elections Board. We are seeking your legal counsel as County Attorney as to the form of response which we should make as to (1) the Secretary of State complaint by Jessica Waters and (2) the request for assurance from the County Commission. In this regard, I will set out our experience, investigation and findings.

The Registrar schedules all board meetings. No meetings were scheduled or conducted in March, April, or May. I requested that meetings be scheduled and noticed and conducted by video or teleconference, even involving you in that discussion as to the need for notice, etc. Notwithstanding my efforts, no telephone or videoconference meeting was ever scheduled or noticed.

During that time, almost all decisions made by the Registrar were made without consultation with the Board (of Election) members. We had no input as to the form of the absentee ballots for the May election. We have not been consulted about budgetary matters except to receive statements from the Registrar that there was not enough money to pay poll workers, that poll workers needed to be paid at least $10.00 per hour, and that she understood from the County Commission that she was not authorized to employ additional workers. (Note from County Attorney Brian Ranck: Eureka was encouraged to get new poll workers for those that stepped aside for Covid or other reasons. The money was allocated by the county and supplemented recently and can be used for hiring new poll workers. That part of the process is handled by elections and the county simply allocates the funds. Phyllis did talk to Eureka and told her she needed to get replacement poll workers.)

During the June and July monthly board meeting, extensive executive sessions were held with far ranging inquiry of the Registrar as to the facts of the Waters complaint, the May ballot deficiency, the operation of the office, etc.

The Waters Complaint

Jessica Waters is the editor and operator of a local news publication ConnectLocal News. In that capacity, she described her visits to the elections office and her interactions with the registrar. Ms. Waters has a degree from the University of Oregon and has worked for more than fifteen years in local journalism endeavors, including The Toccoa Record.

To me, it is worth noting that someone with journalism training and extensive experience as a reporter does not place material inside quotation marks unless he or she has either had the declarant verify the written statement or has a recording. I believe that Ms. Waters has voice recordings of incidents that she describes where she recounts quotations.

We inquired of the Registrar as to her recollections of the interactions described as occurring on February 25, February 27, March 3, and March 6 of this year. It would be fair to say that her recollections of the interactions are very vague and, at least with us, she was unable to disagree with any of the quoted material.

The Registrar’s recollection was that she did not care for Ms. Waters’ attitude. She described her as demanding. I would have concerns about going on record with that description without hearing whatever recordings Waters has. The Registrar expressed some uncertainty as to whether Waters was entitled to receive the requested information and how she was to deal with such requests. Upon further questioning, it developed that the Registrar states that she has received no training regarding the Georgia Open Records and public meetings laws. After checking course availability, I directed her attention to an online course on those subjects available through the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia. Both Lori and I recommended that she obtain that training.

From Waters’ description, it appears to me that the matters requested were clearly public information and, in fact, matters which the Registrar should have wanted the public to know about. Moreover, we could not ascertain any reasonable excuse for the Registrar not knowing the information requested or for giving incorrect information, other than as Waters describes that her mind was not on it.

With regard to the February 27 incident which concerned the LNR testing, it emerged that the Registrar states that she had sent the notice timely to Theresa Kelly at The Toccoa Record but had used an incorrect email address. She said that email was sent on February 21, but she did not provide a printout of the message. She also did not report whether or not she received a bounce back message. She followed up after the notice did not appear as expected in the weekly newspaper. She then discovered her error and submitted it correctly, but by then it was too late for the notice to be timely. Setting that error aside and the fact that a read notification was not selected, it is troubling that at neither interaction with Ms. Waters, attention was not called to the scheduled LNR testing.

The LNR testing is very important. There are those in the community who question the voting method selected by the Secretary of State because the printed ballots have a machine code printed on them which is what is actually read by the scanner. The LNR testing allows the opportunity to see that machine code and the marked ballot agree in a test situation.

Regarding the March 3 interaction, no explanation was offered as to why the assistant would not have access to the qualified candidates for the 2020 General Primary/Election. It was stated that the information was on the Registrar’s desk, but she could not describe to anyone where on her desk someone would have looked.

No explanation was offered as to why the LNR notice was only sent to one local media organization and not others. The Registrar reports only recently having learned the person with whom she needed to speak in order to have material placed on the county website.

No explanation was offered to us regarding the March 6 telephone interaction with Waters. As the information requested on March 3 was public information which should have been available, it does not appear that Waters was out of line in requesting the information.

The Commission’s Request for Assurances

Your letter of July 7, 2020, on behalf of the County Commission requests certain assurances from the Board.

We can assure the Commission than since June 2020, the Board has conducted its regular monthly meetings. There were no regular or called meetings of the Board in March, April or May of 2020.

We can assure the Commission that the Board has addressed with the Registrar each of the items addressed in the Waters complaint and referenced in your letter of July 7, 2020. Suggestions and recommendations have been made to the Registrar.

You request on behalf of the Board assurance as to proper oversight by the Board, including of day-to- day operations, and that everything possible is being done to ensure that future issues do not arise. That request is more problematic in responding to.

While the Board has a responsibility of oversight, the responsibility for day-to-day operation is on the Registrar. I do not agree that we have a responsibility or authority to manage day-to-day operations of that office. I do not believe that either Lori or myself are able to take on that role of overseeing day-to- day operations for a post which is supposed to reimburse $50 per month for expenses but which has never paid anything, not that I particularly care about being paid for what I view as public service. Moreover, neither Lori or I have had the training required to do the Registrar’s job or to conduct the day-to-day operations of the office.

In the course of the conduct of things from March forward, certain concerns have emerged about the operation of the Elections Office. Discussions with the Registrar have not necessarily allayed those concerns.

It was identified that the Registrar has received no training on open records or public meetings and has little familiarity with the requirements of such in the operation of a county office.

On the subject of training, it was related that she had only been provided some webinars from the Secretary of State’s office and some assistance/training by other county elections offices.

From the issue regarding the school board, it appears that there has not been training as to the local acts effecting the county elected positions.

Descriptions received by us make us concerned about the training that the Registrar has in the county budgeting process. It appears that the Commission has found some requests deficient in documentation and justification. It also appears that there have been issues about use of budgeted funds within the purposes for which it was budgeted, with exhaustion of some resources prior to the expiration of the budget period.

We are very concerned about this last point. The Registrar relates that she has been instructed that she cannot hire or train any additional workers. With the COVID-19 outbreak, quite a number of trained poll workers have chosen not to put themselves forward to work with the public. You are probably aware that many of the trained poll workers are retirees and are of an age range that has heightened risks regarding this virus. Their decision is understandable. However, it means that the last election was thinly staffed. If any of those remaining workers are unable or unwilling to continue working, the ability of the Registrar to conduct the August and November elections will be severely compromised. With the last election, a small group of poll workers were called upon to work a large number of hours including a very lengthy elections day. Some workers began elections day at 6 or 7 am and did not finish until after 2 am the next day. That is too much. It also stresses the workers and may increase their exposure risks. It also may cause some of them to reconsider their participation.

Because of her understanding that she under a hiring freeze, the Registrar has taken no steps to recruit and train additional poll workers. (Note from County Attorney Brian Ranck: Eureka was encouraged to get new poll workers for those that stepped aside for Covid or other reasons. The money was allocated by the county and supplemented recently and can be used for hiring new poll workers. That part of the process is handled by elections and the county simply allocates the funds. Phyllis did talk to Eureka and told her she needed to get replacement poll workers.)

There is little reason to believe that we will have fewer mail-in ballots to contend with for the next two upcoming elections. Although a number of kinks in the process were learned and corrected during the last election, it is still a major endeavor to process that many ballots. It is even more difficult when many of the workers assisting in that part of the process have already worked a full day.

For the last election, the opportunity for early scanning was not well-managed by the Registrar and really resulted in no progress. The beginning part of processing and scanning the ballots on elections night was similarly hobbled by the Registrar’s failure to properly staff that effort in advance. While the number of ballots was unprecedented for our county, the Registrar was in a position to know what the count of such ballots was and to realize that additional staff would be needed. Instead, poll workers were released after the polls closed and had to be called back to assist when it became clear that there was inadequate staff. We then worked two hours beyond the point when the Secretary of State’s office instructed us to stop counting because the Registrar did not have access to her email upstairs.

In the days leading up to the election, I, for one, asked several times for a count of the ballots. I was never given an answer by the Registrar that approached the actual number.

With that information, the Registrar should have been able to make a better decision about staffing levels. Prior elections, involving fewer such ballots, had always had at least five people involved in the processing of the ballots. The last election had only three workers for the first hour and a half, and two of those were the appointed board members.

Our understanding is that Registrar does not believe that she has additional resources with which to address the increased workload that the increased mail-in balloting presents. Without adequate resources and proper management of those resources, we cannot give the assurances that the Board of Commissioners seeks.

One subject of inquiry for us was whether there was a policies and procedures manual for the office or procedures checklists. It appears that there is none. Having procedures in place does not necessarily avoid all problems, but it greatly reduces the chances of deficiencies if the process is clearly laid out.

While the Board is the superintendent of the elections, the Registrar is vested with the day-to-day operation of the office and is responsible for scheduling Board meetings, issuing public notices, submitting documentation to the State, setting up procedures for the office, obtaining training, requesting and managing the office budget and personnel, etc. The appointed Board members must rely on the Registrar to perform those actions.

In our oversight role, we can provide counsel and advice and offer suggestions, but I do not find that we have any authority to force the Registrar to do that which she is not inclined to do. For instance, we can recommend additional training resources, but we cannot make her accept that training. We are not her employer. We have no authority to discipline her as an employee.

With all of that said, the biggest single concern right now is whether we will have sufficient poll workers to conduct the upcoming elections in an efficient manner. With the infection rate seemingly rising, we have significant concerns about having qualified, able and willing poll workers.

Lori and I would be glad to consult with you by phone or videoconference to discuss where we need to go from here regarding the Secretary of State complaint and the concerns of the Board of Commissioners.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A verbatim copy of ConnectLocal’s official Complaint, a notarized copy of which was requested by the Secretary State’s Office, is provided below.


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