April 18, 2017, Atlanta - Dunwoody resident Lakeidra Thomas, left, casts her ballot at Chestnut Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Cobb, Fulton and North DeKalb residents cast ballots today for the highly contested 6th Congressional District race. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)
Photo: David Barnes/DAVID BARNES / SPECIAL
Photo: David Barnes/DAVID BARNES / SPECIAL

Legislature changes selection process for DeKalb elections board

Hoping to avoid the type of drama that DeKalb’s ethics board has faced, members of the county’s elections board decided to be proactive in changing the way they are appointed.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled last year that DeKalb’s ethics board members appointed by community groups are serving unconstitutionally. Only elected officials can select people to serve on government oversight boards in Georgia, the ruling said.

VIDEO: Previous coverage of DeKalb ethics issues

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Video: Mandi Albright/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The General Assembly recently approved a fix to get DeKalb’s ethics board back on track, but it has sat dormant for months.

The county’s elections board has not been challenged, but members said there was no need to test fate.

Related: Supreme Court ruling throws metro Atlanta ethics boards a curveball

Related: Georgia legislators approve overhaul of DeKalb County’s ethics code

Under existing rules, the two political parties receiving the most votes in an election -- usually the Republican and Democratic parties -- appoint two members each to the DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections. Those four individuals then choose who the fifth and final member of the board will be.

The General Assembly has approved a new law that adds another step to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. The legislation still allows the top two political parties to nominate two members each, but the chief judge of DeKalb’s Superior Court gets final say.

The chief judge will also select the fifth of the elections board.

Senate Bill 246 breezed through the legislative process, passing as part of a slate of local legislation in each chamber. It now awaits Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature.

The change would go into effect immediately.

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