Editorial

Floyd County needs to change the process of how we recruit and compensate the person in charge of our elections.

The position of chief elections clerk may have been duly compensated when the process for choosing a position was encoded by state legislators in 1986. But that pay scale is not enough to recruit or retain the level of person we need in that position.

The position of chief elections clerk in Floyd County — our head elections official — has a salary range of $34,405 to $37,925.

The person in a position with the same level of responsibility in Bartow County — which is of a similar population size as Floyd — makes an annual salary north of $60,000.

Gordon County, somewhat smaller than Floyd, pays their elections supervisor around $55,000. Polk County, which has less than half the population of Floyd County, pays their elections director an annual salary of $44,700.

See a trend? We do.

It’s not as easy as just saying “OK then, let’s change the system.” There were safeguards put in the system to prevent misconduct, so any changes have to be approved by the state legislature.

It’s time we do that.

Our elections board isn’t to blame. The county isn’t to blame. They’ve both done exemplary jobs trying to make sense of a moving target and were honest and open when they realized there had been a mistake.

There’s been a lot of accusations on the national level — including from the Twitter account of President Donald Trump — that were mischaracterized and overblown.

In a hand audit of the presidential race our elections board found ballots that went uncounted because of human error. That’s what an audit is for — checking to see if mistakes were made. Once they found the issue they reported and corrected that issue.

How we change things

The recommendation for any change would be proposed by the county and introduced at the Capitol by our state representatives — Rep. Katie Dempsey, Rep. Eddie Lumsden, Rep. Mitchell Scoggins and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler.

The measure would then have to be approved by the Georgia House and Senate.

It may seem odd at first, but the system was designed to create a buffer and keep local elected officials from being able to meddle in the elections process.

It’s going to take a while, but it’s time to start that ball rolling.

An issue is the chief elections clerk is a mid-level position in the county government. County Manager Jamie McCord said recently he believes that position should be a director-level position.

The population has grown since 1986, when ballots were cast on election days and, after a flurry of activity, the results were reported and that election was put to bed. There are new concerns regarding reporting and security, not to mention that the technological knowhow needed for this position has increased exponentially.

It’s time we bring our compensation up to date with our expectations.

Casting blame

Georgia’s Secretary of State’s Office came under fire for reporting the election results in the presidential election.

While there were unsubstantiated claims of elections fraud coming from our nation’s highest office, none have been proven in the following days.

There were calls from our two sitting U.S. senators for Brad Raffensperger to step down. No factual reasons have been given since and neither senator has contested the results in their races.

That sentiment snowballed into a call from Raffensperger for our now-former elections clerk to resign. The real issue there is his public statement came even before the Secretary of State’s Office was sure what happened.

There’s too much finger pointing and not enough listening or even considering.

Floyd County, alongside other counties, came under fire for making a mistake and then owning up to that mistake publicly and correcting it. The truth is they really came under fire for seemingly fitting into a false political narrative of election fraud.

Let’s be clear. There was no fraud here.

There was a lot of hard work. There were a lot of people who worked through the weekend for little or no pay to get an important job done. That’s what we had here.

Our elections board and elections workers should be applauded for not only putting in a lot of long hours over the past week — but also for not attempting to hide a problem when they saw that problem.

That’s not fraud — that’s integrity.

Thank you for reading.

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