The Douglas County Board of Elections and Registration will look a lot different come next January.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Thursday legislation that changes the makeup of the BOER, just over a year after Democrats at the local and state level said they wanted an elections board that was more representative of the people of Douglas County.
Rep. Kimberly Alexander, D-Douglasville, was the main sponsor on House Bill 944, which gives Democrats and Republicans two appointments to the five-member board and lets the Douglas County Board of Commissioners pick the fifth member.
Alexander stood to Deal’s right as he made it official. Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta, who heads Douglas County’s eight-member delegation at the Capitol, was on Deal’s left. Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, a sponsor in the Senate, was also on hand.
Alexander said in a press release she believes “the changing demographics of our county necessitate a more sensible, fair and equitable representation” on the board.
“I truly believe this change will ensure Douglas County receives an honest and unbiased election which will provide easier access for voters in Douglas County,” Alexander said.
HB 944 calls for the BOER to be reconstituted on Jan. 1, 2015, the effective date of the bill.
Douglas County Elections Supervisor Laurie Fulton said Thursday afternoon she wasn’t sure whether current members of the BOER could be reappointed after the law takes effect. She said she spoke with legal staff and was assured things would be sorted out by January.
The Democratic Party and Republican Party each have one representative on the board currently. Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan, the four district county commissioners and the chief superior court judge also have appointments to the BOER currently.
But despite the variety of entities making appointments in the past, the BOER only has one Democrat among its five members — Ingrid Landis-Davis. It will have at least two with the changes.
When Democrats first brought up the idea of changing the makeup near the end of the 2013 session of the General Assembly, it caused a ruckus among local Republicans at the Capitol and on the BOC.
The BOC called a special meeting in March of 2013 where Worthan and his fellow Republicans on the BOC — Mike Mulcare and Ann Jones Guider — voted to pass a resolution in opposition to the changes to the BOER.
That resolution passed 3-2, with Democrats Kelly Robinson and Henry Mitchell voting against.
But in the break between the 2013 and 2014 sessions, the state delegation led by Bruce and the BOC led by Worthan agreed to compromise, which ultimately resulted in the the bill that Deal signed Thursday.
Robinson and Landis-Davis were also on hand for the signing. Afterward, Robinson sent an email addressed to his fellow commissioners that he copied to others. He attached the photo of Deal signing the bill to his email.
“Thank you for enabling greater parity on the Board of Elections,” Robinson wrote.