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Local councilman aims to make elections easier

Peachtree Corners Councilman Eric Christ is encouraging the county to dump the policy that prevents municipalities from outsourcing elections.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Peachtree Corners Councilman Eric Christ said when he ran for office in 2016, it was a struggle to get voters to city hall, to vote for him. 

"I had to convince people that if they wanted to vote for me, they would have to come here to city hall and also go to their county precinct as well," Christ said.

While Peachtree Corners was running its special election in 2016 for council, the 2016 primaries were happening. 

During the primaries or any other federal, state, or county elections voters must go to their polling place issued by Gwinnett County Board of Elections.

Having to go to two polling places in one election is not uncommon because of Gwinnett County BOE's Municipal Agreement. Gwinnett's BOE helps with voter registration and issue voting machines; they do not add municipal questions to the ballot or help hold municipal elections. 

Councilman Christ said the BOE told him that the cities don't want them to run its municipal elections. 

"When I talked to the cities they said that we understood that the board has a policy against it. I said now we're in a circle," Christ said. 

After speaking with the BOE and various cities throughout the county, Christ decided to research eight counties that circle Gwinnett.

He discovered that each county, he researched, does assist cities with municipal elections. 

Delkab County

Gwinnett County BOE director Lynn Ledford says that if the county decides to change the policy, they would have to look at counties like Dekalb, Fulton and Cobb County because they are equal in size. 

If a municipal election is going on at the same time, Dekalb County has an elections cities can pay a fee for its question to be added to the county's ballot for their residents. 

But, if a city is running an election during a different time depending on the size of the city cost can range between $1,700 to $20,000.

For the right price

Councilman Christ said he looked into Johns Creek's brunch bill referendum. The election happened last November, the same time Peachtree Corners brunch bill referendum election. Gwinnett County had the same question on their ballot for the unincorporated areas.

The cost of Peachtree Corners election was around $15,000. Meanwhile, Christ says Johns Creek had it added to the Fulton County's ballot for $18,000.

"I say it's worth $3000 more to go to one place and to have that convenience," Christ said.

According to Councilman Christ Peachtree Corners voter turn out was 4 percent. Gwinnett County's voter turnout last year was nearly 60 percent.

Christ did share his findings with Gwinnett County's BOE last week. The board did say; often people have addressed their frustrations with having to go to two polling places.

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