February 6-- Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced today the release of the Elections Advisory Council Final Report and Recommendations. The Final Report and Recommendations can be found on the Secretary of State’s Elections Advisory Council (EAC) website at http://www.sos.ga.gov/GAEAC. Secretary Kemp formed the EAC to review the Georgia Election Code, State Election Board Rules and all election processes and make recommendations that improve and strengthen Georgia’s election laws and procedures.
The EAC, comprised of experienced election officials and leaders from across Georgia, looked particularly at improvements that will create cost savings and increase efficiencies for state, county and local governments.
“The EAC Final Report is the product of input from the public, EAC members, county election officials, elected officials and organizations, and many hours of review and deliberation regarding the future of Georgia’s election laws and procedures,” said Secretary Kemp. “This report demonstrates that despite our sometimes partisan differences, men and women dedicated to improving our great state can do so in a non-partisan manner for the benefit of all Georgians.”
Highlights from the EAC Final Report and Recommendations include urging the Georgia General Assembly to adopt the following proposals in the 2012 legislative session:
· Amend the process by which Independent and political body candidates qualify for placement on the ballot.
· Design and implement a secure electronic voter registration system.
· To save money and reduce strain on county election offices, eliminate the September special election date to fill a vacancy in a county or municipal office in an even-numbered year.
· Permit county election offices to save resources by utilizing electronic record retention technology for voter registration and related materials.
The EAC also recommends that the Georgia General Assembly consider these items as part of a legislative study committee.
· Should the current majority threshold for election victory be changed to a set plurality for all elections?
· Should the current majority threshold for election victory be changed to a set plurality for special elections only?
· Should municipal elections that are currently held in odd-numbered years be held in even-numbered years?
Further, the EAC suggests the creation of the Georgia Election Code and State Election Board Rules Review Committee. The Committee will carefully examine each document and draft suggestions for clarification, consolidation and reorganization of materials to allow for better comprehension and understanding. For example, the Committee will consider revision and clarification of state election law regarding residency and where voters are required to cast their ballot.
Finally, the EAC recognizes that some items require future study by the Secretary of State’s Office before encouraging the Georgia General Assembly to enact changes to current election law. One example is the creation of vote centers so voters can cast their ballots in-person at any polling place within their county.
The EAC conducted meetings in Atlanta, Savannah, Albany and Augusta to receive input from the public, organizations, county election directors and elected officials. Each EAC meeting featured a period reserved for public comment so citizens could provide members and others in attendance an overview of their issues and ideas. In addition, the EAC’s website featured an e-government resource that allowed Georgians to submit their ideas online and upload supporting documents.
Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January, 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives.