MILTON, Ga. — Seeking greater oversight and cost savings, Milton’s new Municipal Election Feasibility Committee held its inaugural meeting June 15 to study whether the city should run its own municipal elections.
The committee will work to determine whether it is practical for the city to operate its own elections for city positions, rather than outsourcing the operations to Fulton County, as it has done in the past. Regardless of the outcome, county, state and federal elections would still be run at the county level.
A group of residents petitioned the City Council last summer to oppose the city’s agreement to have Fulton County run its municipal elections. The group cited integrity concerns and costs to taxpayers. Elected officials moved forward with the county contract, but informally agreed later in the year to identify a group to study the issue. On April 18, 2022, the City Council approved the committee’s formation.
The six-person panel was intended to represent three stakeholder groups: City Council members, city staff and Milton residents. The committee is made up of City Councilman Rick Mohrig, Councilman Paul Moore, Deputy City Manager Stacey Inglis, City Clerk Tammy Lowit and residents Mark Amick and Lisa Cauley.
The committee’s first meeting consisted largely of discussion about how it will operate and identifying its objectives. Members opted not to appoint a formal chair and agreed that at least one member of each of the three stakeholder groups must be present for the committee to make any formal decisions.
The committee assigned members to look into the costs associated with the city running its own elections, from staffing and training to renting voting equipment. Members have also been assigned to contact other Georgia cities that run their own elections, such as Peachtree Corners, Lawrenceville, Loganville and Eatonton, to research associated costs and benefits.
The committee already has some general information from the cities, though costs to Milton would still largely depend on how it chose to operate its elections. Georgia law mandates that county, state and federal elections be conducted on electronic voting machines, but municipal elections can be conducted either electronically or on paper ballots.
Committee members also discussed its meeting schedule going forward, tentatively deciding to hold a session every three weeks, beginning with Thursday, July 14. The committee has five months — until Oct. 15 — to make recommendations regarding the feasibility of city-run municipal elections to the City Council. The resolution that created the committee states that it will be automatically terminated come that date.