Elections Board members doing good job in difficult times

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I attended the 8/22/22 Board of Elections meeting because of my concerns regarding OCGA 21-2-229, which states: (a) “any elector … may challenge the qualifications of any person applying to vote.”

I do not know, nor should I need to know, the political affiliation of board members, but I appreciate the job they are doing in this difficult and divided political era. The board members at this meeting were professional, courteous, unbiased, and thorough.

The information in this letter is to the best of my memory and understanding. If I’ve made an error please read the minutes from the meeting when they are available.

A challenger noted 35 Fayette residents had moved to Florida and registered to vote in Florida. She was questioned politely by board members Aaron Wright and Gary Rower and responded politely. Both the county lawyer and a representative, whom I believe was from the county elections office, were questioned by board members Aaron Wright and Gary Rower.

The lawyer made clear it is not illegal to be registered to vote in more than one state. Mr. Wright noted this is not an unusual situation for someone in a military household who may move regularly. The lawyer noted it is illegal to vote in more than one state.

The county elections office representative made it clear that the wheels of bureaucracy related to paperwork and change-of-address notices are moving forward in the prescribed manner, and that Fayette County rolls would be made right.

The board members thanked the challenger for her presentation but decided her position would not move forward as the process is working as it should and no illegal voting is evident.

I believe the final resolution was correct. I thank Aaron Wright, Gary Rower, the lawyer and the representative for their service. I also want to note the respect they all gave the challenger.

Unfortunately, the board members had to end on a sobering note. Though this meeting was civil and calm, recent meetings have not been so. The audience was reminded there are legal criminal charges which will be used for misconduct and disruptive behavior in future meetings if needed. A police official was in attendance because of problems at other meetings, and because board members and election workers have been threatened with violence.

In 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked if our new government was a republic or a monarchy. His response was “A republic … if you can keep it.” We as citizens should register to vote and vote, and be poll workers and poll watchers for elections. It is our right and our responsibility to do so.

We should also support and respect officials when they conscientiously and legally oversee our elections; whether the results are to our liking or not.

Kimberly B. Hearn

Fayetteville, Ga.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Ben Franklin never said any such thing. Nor would he, since he as well as all the other Framers were acutely aware that they created a Union, not a Republic.

    Let’s set that aside, because there’s another issue just as important: Government ought to be open, transparent, and at all times subject to public scrutiny. The conduct of those who serve in government should be respectful of the citizenry, and not imperious as has been reported about this Board.

    That we have people sitting in positions of authority who believe it appropriate to threaten the citizens they serve with criminal charges is inexcusable. That they do it in response to legitimate concerns over corruption in elections tends to indict the character of the Board, not the citizens who petition it.

    Speaking of criminal – had any actual threats of violence been made, then arrests would have followed. That nobody has been arrested is sufficient evidence to show that no actual threat of violence existed. It has become a fashionable tactic for politicians to make these claims in order to distract the public from real issues of concern. People should not fall for such chicken little tactics.

      • The Library of Congress makes no such claim. The only historical account of this comes from the notes of James McHenry, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He recounts the event twice in his writings, but the two accounts differ from each other in key details including time and place. Also, the person to whom Franklin is alleged to have said this – a Mrs. Powell of Philadelphia – wrote 30 years later that this never happened to her.

        Again, Franklin in particular would never have claimed the United States to be a Republic. He was as close to being an anti-Federalist as you could be without actually being an anti-Federalist. And even the Federalists would have scoffed at the strong central government necessary to be considered a Republic.

      • For clarification, “Mrs. Powel” was Elizabeth Powel, wife of the Philadelphia Mayor (Samuel Powel). She is so referenced in McHenry’s daily journal (on Sept. 18, 1787) on the quoted exchange. The second written account was again by McHenry, 15 years later in a political leaning newspaper. Here he extended the quoted exchange to include a response to the second question of “And, why not keep it.”

        Yes, Powel couldn’t recall this exact conversation some 27 years later she wrote, but she did not deny that she had this type of exchange with Mr. Franklin, since her entertainment parties (French Salon style) for the delegates and guests did include discussions on political and social issues, even in front of the ladies.

        As for Franklin who was more of a Federalist, he wrote to a friend (F. Grand) in France that same year in 1787 suggesting that if the Constitution does succeed, they may want to pass something similar there, a “Federal Union and One Grand Republick” of their own.

        • Good to see someone who knows some history.

          I neglected to mention Federalist #10, where Hamilton (writing as Publius) puts fine point on the distinction between a Republic and the Union, saying “In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government.”

          • Most scholars agree that it was probably Madison that authored #10. Publius being the pseudo for Hamilton, Madison, & Jay. The main point in #10 was a strong united republic would be more effective than individual states at controlling narrow interests or … “factions” as Madison liked to call them. Btw, Franklin at this juncture although present on some occasions, had checked out mentally (age) but was in favor of them and for ratification.

      • I know Fox News or CNN or whichever media outlet you prefer would have you to believe that. It sells commercials. In reality, 99% of public meetings are absolute snooze-fests. Try attending them in person to see for yourself.

        As for the other 1%… an actual quote from President Obama is that “…democracy is messy”.

          • I think of the United States as a democratically elected republic. That is more so since 1913 when senators became popularly elected instead of appointed by legislators. The electoral college has given us five presidents who did not win the popular vote, and none of them were stellar. And of course, the appointment and confirmation process of one entire branch of government is anything but democratic. So, yes, we are not a pure democracy, but we have many democratic characteristics.

          • This is a problem of understanding for many (most actually). The word democracy as we use it today actually comes from two separate words who were combined due to like spelling. One was based on “demo kratia”, which translates as “people rule”, or more correctly “from the authority of the people”. The other democracy was “demos kratos”, translating to “peoples power”, or more correctly “forceful acts of a mob”. Both definitions were available to the Founders (who would have studied latin and greek), but they generally used “democracy” derisively indicating a preference for the latter definition. Fisher Ames in his letter to the Massachusetts ratifying convention called democracy “a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction.” The former definition of the word didn’t honestly become popular until the early 20th century when European Monarchs proved unable to restrain the capacity for industrial destruction their wars wrought on the continent, and it was generally agreed by the Anglo-Franco alliance that democratic governance should be the new order of Europe. (That version of democracy was actually the dominant meaning of the word for the French; their version derived from the middle french demokratia which was directly from Koine greek.)

            We have democratic aspects to our government as Stranger points out. But that’s entirely because as the Catholic Concord of 1433 established, governments only exist as long as the people tolerate them. Or as the Declaration of Independence says it, governments “[derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

  2. Thank you for the counterpoint to the previous letter about the Election Board. My dealings with the Election Board have been just how you stated it to be. They have been professional and polite. Thank you for your observation