Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Majority-Black Georgia County Fires Consultant Who Proposed Closing Most Polling Places

The elections consultant who proposed closing most voting locations in a majority African-American rural Georgia county has been fired ahead of a vote Friday on consolidating precincts.

By Mark Niesse

The elections consultant who proposed closing most voting locations in a majority African-American rural Georgia county has been fired ahead of a vote Friday on consolidating precincts.

The proposal to shutter seven of the county's nine precincts before the Nov. 6 election appears unlikely to pass, said Randolph County Attorney Tommy Coleman.

Coleman fired the consultant, Mike Malone, in a letter dated Wednesday.

Malone's recommendation to close precincts before the election for Georgia governor received widespread opposition from voters and elected officials. Critics of the plan said it would have suppressed turnout in the governor's race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

"He's certainly done more than enough," Coleman said Thursday. "The county is distressed because of the position they've found themselves in."

Malone said during public meetings last week that precincts should be closed because they're inaccessible to the disabled, they're expensive and they serve small numbers of voters. The county's two largest precincts would have remained open.

Randolph County is 61 percent black and supported Democrat Hillary Clinton for president with 55 percent of the vote in 2016.

Malone, who was hired in April to assist with elections until the county could find a permanent elections supervisor, didn't return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Malone's consulting contract with Randolph County doesn't mention closing precincts.

"That wasn't what he was hired to do," Coleman said. "We don't need the guy" since the county hired an elections supervisor.

Malone's proposal on consolidating precincts started the discussion about his termination, Coleman said.

Malone told residents that Kemp recommended precinct consolidation, but he then said this week in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he didn't recall hearing the secretary of state say that.

Malone has donated $250 to Kemp's campaign for governor, and he was hired after the chairman of the county's Board of Elections, Scott Peavy, contacted Kemp's office to seek names of certified elections officials on short notice before the May primary election. Georgia Elections Director Chris Harvey provided three names, including Malone's.

Malone received a check for $2,235 for services he previously invoiced, according to his termination letter. He was paid a $2,000 retainer when he was hired and $55 per hour, according to his contract.

The decision to dismiss Malone was made after conversations with Peavy and County Commission Chairman Stephen Jackson, Coleman said. Neither Peavy nor Jackson returned phone messages seeking comment.

Kemp, the state's top elections official, has urged Randolph County officials to abandon the precinct closure proposal. Decisions about precinct locations are made on the county level.

Harvey, in an email he sent to Peavy on Thursday, also opposed the plan and criticized how the situation has been handled.

"You have created a national media spectacle by seeking to make major changes right before an election and failing to act in a decisive manner that is responsive to the demands of voters in Randolph County," Harvey wrote.

The county Board of Elections is scheduled to vote on the proposal during a Friday meeting.

"I would be the most surprised person in Georgia if this passed," Coleman said.

(c)2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
Sponsored
Workplace safety is in the spotlight as government leaders adapt to a prolonged pandemic.
Sponsored
While government employees, students and the general public had to wait in line for hours in the beginning of the pandemic, at-home test kits make it easy to diagnose for the novel coronavirus in less than 30 minutes.
Sponsored
Governments around the nation are working to design the best vaccine policies that keep both their employees and their residents safe. Although the latest data shows a variety of polarizing perspectives, there are clear emerging best practices that leading governments are following to put trust first: creating policies that are flexible and provide a range of options, and being in tune with the needs and sentiments of their employees so that they are able to be dynamic and accommodate the rapidly changing situation.
Sponsored
Service delivery and the individual experience within health and human services (HHS) is often very siloed and fragmented.
Sponsored
In this episode, Marianne Steger explains why health care for Pre-Medicare retirees and active employees just got easier.
Sponsored
Government organizations around the world are experiencing the consequences of plagiarism firsthand. A simple mistake can lead to loss of reputation, loss of trust and even lawsuits. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs, and government organizations are held to a particularly high standard. Fortunately, technological solutions such as iThenticate allow government organizations to avoid instances of text plagiarism in an efficient manner.
Sponsored
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
Sponsored
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?
Sponsored
As more state and local jurisdictions have placed a priority on creating sustainable and resilient communities, many have set strong targets to reduce the energy use and greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with commercial and residential buildings.