Hughes sworn-in

Jeff Hughes (left) is sworn-in to his position on the Jackson County Board of Elections. Hughes, who will represent the county Republican Party on the board, replaces Erma Denney who resigned in August. Hughes was sworn-in Sept. 9 by county Probate Judge Sherry Moore (right).

Jackson County elections leaders recently approved the addition of two new absentee ballot drop boxes.

The Jackson County Board of Elections voted unanimously Sept. 9 to allow Elections Director Jennifer Logan to order two additional drop boxes to place within the county. The additional boxes are aimed to “serve underserved areas and minimize the time it takes anyone to get to a ballot box.”

Locations for the absentee boxes were not specified by the elections board. But the group discussed placing one box on the east side and one on the west side, possibly in Nicholson and Hoschton since Commerce and Braselton have early voting sites.

The county already has one absentee drop box, located outside the elections office in Jefferson.

Drop boxes must be located on city/county property and have 24/7 video monitoring.

According to state rules, the boxes can be opened 49 days before Election Day. A team of two people must collect the ballots from the drop box at least every 72 hours, except for the final week of voting when the ballots must be collected every 24 hours.

It’s not clear if the boxes will be ready before the upcoming Nov. 3 election.

EARLY TABULATION

Also at its Sept. 9 meeting, the board voted to approve early tabulation for the November 3 General Election given the large increase in absentee votes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move allows the elections office to open and scan absentee ballots early the week Oct. 26-30 and start early on Nov. 3.

OTHER BUSINESS

Also at its meeting, the elections board:

•discussed the Georgia Secretary of State’s recent announcement on an investigation into alleged double voting in the Georgia Primary Election. The investigation reportedly includes 1,000 alleged cases of double voting in 100 counties across the state where voters would cast ballots in-person, but also submit an absentee ballot. Logan said Jackson County was not affected since the county elections office ensured cancelled out absentee ballots before a person could submit an in-person vote.

•discussed the pressing need for additional storage space for elections office equipment. Logan noted the office doesn’t have enough space and must regularly move large equipment around to get to what they need.

•discussed a letter to state representatives, asking for revised legislation that would allow the board to function if a member dies or resigns. The current legislation says the board “shall take no official action until all members have been certified to the clerk of the Superior Court of Jackson County.” The letter requests that wording be revised to say the board “shall take no official action unless a quorum exists under the bylaws of the board.” Additionally, the letter asks that term limits run through Jan. 31 instead of Dec. 31, to move out of the elections runoff cycle.

•welcomed new board member, Jeff Hughes, who was sworn-in prior to the meeting. Hughes replaces Erma Denney and will be a representative from the local Republican Party on the elections board. (A previous story said Hughes would be sworn-in on Sept. 19. That was incorrect. He was sworn-in on Sept. 9.)

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