The Hoschton City Council voted during its meeting Monday to make the Jackson County Board of Elections superintendent of the city’s municipal elections.
The change comes in time for Hoschton’s special election planned for March 19, which will fill the mayoral vacancy left by Erma A. Denney. She resigned in October because of a work conflict.
The council’s vote followed a second reading of the election ordinance at the meeting. An intergovernmental agreement detailing election responsibilities for the city and county was tied to the vote. All council members present voted for the change. Jim Cleveland was absent.
The impact to the city’s nearly 700 registered voters mainly involves how and where early voting takes place, city clerk Cindy George told the council at its Jan. 3 meeting.
“It will be just like a county or state or federal election,” George said.
Instead of city hall, Hoschton’s registered voters will go to the Jackson County Administration Building in Jefferson over two designated weeks in February and March. A third week of early voting will follow in March at the county’s satellite office at the Braselton Police and Municipal Court building. Voting on election day would take place at the Hoschton Depot.
“This is the first time this has been done,” Sandie Romer said during the council’s discussion on the subject Jan 3. “A lot of people aren’t going to know this is happening. We need to let these people know we are going to do this.”
Council members agreed with Romer and asked George to look into how the information could be distributed to water bill customers. Voting information will also be advertised and posted at city hall, as well.
The change will cost the city $1,000. But that is less than it currently costs the city to run in-house, George said, explaining Tuesday that in 2011 she had to hire a poll worker to handle the early voting.
She still will be responsible for a number of election issues such as preparing qualifying materials for potential candidates and performing candidate qualifying.
In addition to choosing Hoschton’s next mayor in March, voters also might have to elect a council member if a current member of council qualifies for mayor between Jan. 23-25. Another qualifying period for the open council seat would follow in February, if needed.
There is a scenario where there will be no election, however. If candidates for mayor and city council run unopposed, the city could opt to cancel the election, George said.