Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

February 10, 2010

De Soto’s election discussed at Board

Robert Griffin

ELLAVILLE — The town of Desoto found itself in a tight situation in January when they were informed by the secretary of state’s office that they forgot to hold elections for two city council posts last year.

According to an article published by the Associated Press, City of De Soto officials said no one on the council raised the issue of elections for the two seats during their 2009 meetings and no one realized the election was supposed to have been held until the state threatened the city with penalties.

Councilwoman Addie Cutts said the Georgia Secretary of State’s office told the council it will face violations including failing to publish public notice 30 days prior to the election, and failing to appoint an election superintendent if an election is not held by the new March deadline.

Sherry Ratliff, the Board of Elections Supervisor for Sumter County said in Tuesday’s Sumter County board of elections and voter registration qualifying is going on this week for the elections.

“For special elections, you only have to qualify two days so they started yesterday morning and will go through noon tomorrow,” Ratliff said. “I think for De Soto’s sake and the cost of the election, if one person qualifies in a municipal election, you don’t have to hold the election, they are deemed to have voted for themselves. The best case scenario cost-wise would be that they only have one person qualify for the seat.” As of Monday only Mayor Billings, and Council member Ricks had qualified for the seat.

As the meeting continued, Ratliff revealed that there was no paperwork showing exactly when the last election was held in Desoto.

“With the controversy with the past De Soto elections, whether it be because they were moving into a new building, and all the shifting back and forth of the paperwork, or whatever the case may have been, there was not any documentation as to when the last elections were held,” Ratliff said.

Ratliff went on to say that Judge Rucker Smith has signed a court order that made all seats on the city council up for re-election.

Ratliff said she was in contact with Kennesaw State University, who serves as the ballot builder, and the Georgia Secretary of States office in order to get things worked out to make the election a valid one. There are roughly 100 registered voters in De Soto, and if an election is necessary, it will be held March 16.