The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners won’t get a replacement Super District 7 commissioner until voters go to the polls in November. The county’s Board of Elections voted March 21 to hold the special election in November with the general election instead of holding it on May 24 with the primary.
A special election is needed to fill the seat of former DeKalb County Super District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson, who resigned his position to run for county tax commissioner. The two remaining years of Watson’s four-year commission term will be filled by a special election.
“There were a lot of concerns about if we conducted the election in May we would have had to do a stand-alone election. That had all kinds of issues associated with it,” said Maxine Daniels, director of voter registration and elections.
The elections board was “concerned about whether we could successfully do that for such a large scale,” she said. To pull off the special election, the county would have had to hire 500 election workers and rent voting machines.
“We don’t have sufficient equipment to conduct an election of that size,” Daniels said. “We don’t even know the magnitude of whether all of our precincts can handle two elections simultaneously in the spaces provided.
“If we had [held the election] May 24, the special election and primary would have had to be done with separate equipment, separate poll workers, separate paperwork, separate everything,” Daniels said.
Daniels said there were also concerns confusing voters who would have had to fill out two voter forms and vote twice. If they were voting by mail and inadvertently placed a ballot in the wrong envelope, it would not be counted.
“There were lots of issues with how you would conduct such an election,” Daniels said. “While we’ve done that in the past, we have not done that with…100 precincts out of our 189.
“Our experience has been these elections are difficult even in a small magnitude,” she said. “All of them have been troublesome.”
The delay in the special election means the commission seat will be unfilled for the rest of the year.
DeKalb County NAACP president John Evans told commissioners March 22 that he hopes the vacancy won’t “stymie the county” with three-three split votes on the commission board.
“We know what happened last time. We just botched up stuff, we held up stuff because we had an opportunity to hold it up,” Evans said. “Seven or eight months [with the unfilled position] can create havoc if we are not careful.”
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