3 GOP commissioners seek veto of Democrats’ elections board choice
A proposal to give the Fayette County Commission the power to deny either political party’s appointee to the county’s Board of Elections won approval on a 3-1 vote of the Fayette County Commission.
But it also got a lashing from Commissioner Eric Maxwell, who said the Democratic Party won’t take too kindly to giving the all-Republican commission the power to have a final say on the Democrats’ elections board representative.
The commission already directly appoints one representative to the three-person Board of Elections. Each of the other two members are appointed by the respective political parties.
The elections board oversees the implementation of local elections in Fayette County, working directly with county elections staff.
The proposal to require commission approval of the political parties’ Board of Elections candidates will be transmitted to the Fayette County state legislative delegation, as the change would require the amendment of local legislation.
However, the Fayette legislative delegation breaks down to three Republicans and four Democrats, so the likelihood of the GOP oversight becoming local legislation is far from certain.
“So the five Republicans will then be looking over the shoulder of the Democratic Party, saying whether we want to have that person or not,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell was critical of the proposal, saying it wouldn’t likely pass approval from the U.S. Justice Department. Furthermore, he questioned where the concept even originated, since it was not discussed in advance at a workshop meeting of the commission.
“I just can’t imagine the Justice Department or the Democratic Party putting up with that kind of nonsense to put Republicans in control of who their appointee is going to be,” Maxwell said.
Although no one ultimately explained where the idea originated or who brought it forth to put it on the agenda, the motion to approve the change was approved by commissioners Jack Smith, Robert Horgan and Herb Frady.
Maxwell voted against the motion, and Commissioner Lee Hearn, who was ill, was absent.
“I don’t remember this ever being studied, ever being brought up or ever being discussed,” Maxwell said, noting that some citizens have questioned the board’s lack of transparency on certain issues over the past several years.
“This is one that’s not transparent to me,” Maxwell said.