Elections Worker Velma Coley Speaks out After Resigning in Protest

Published 7:43 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Velma Coley was a clerk responsible for Voter Registration and Absentee Ballots and was the Poll Manager at the Airport Precinct before resigning in protest.

She spoke in an interview on the 16th of November, after she and several other elections workers, including supervisor of elections Randy Howard, resigned suddenly. When asked if Randy Howard’s claim that an attorney was not present during executive session was accurate, Coley collaborated that there was “No attorney at all.”

When asked about the issues facing the Board, she responded that initially there were none.

“We had the best procedures going on in the election office for the last couple of years since Mr. Howard has been there” Coley stated.

Coley mentioned that the Board had previously received complaints before Howard became the supervisor of elections. According to Coley, these improvements appeared to be unappreciated.

“But for some reason, I don’t think they wanted it to run smooth.”

When asked if she was referring to the Board as a whole, Coley clarified.

“I don’t think it’s the Board as a whole. I just think certain individuals on the Board.”

When asked why members of the Board would not want things to run smoothly, she responded that she didn’t understand why herself. When asked if she was willing to give specifics concerning the individual or individuals causing problems, she responded:

“The Commissioner’s and everybody know who it is. The other Board members know exactly who it is.”

Coley mentioned her chief reason for leaving.

“We were not appreciated for the things that we were doing. It was time for me to leave.”

When asked why there were criticisms of her work, she replied:

“I don’t think they knew exactly what we were doing.”

When asked if there was anything else that she felt readers should know, she responded:

“I just hope everything works good for them. I really hope everything falls into place. I really do. And I’m not saying because we’re not there that it won’t fall into place and it might, and it might not, but I just hope everything works out good for our election Board.”

She concluded with her final wish for the County.
“I’m proud of Sumter County, and I want everything to run smooth. I really do. We don’t need any problems.”

As to date, the only responses have been the previously published statements by two board members.

Board of Elections member Dennis Taylor stated the following on Monday, ‎November ‎20, ‎2023.

“On October the third, Randy Howard, our elections supervisor, turned in his resignation effective immediately. The Board did accept his resignation. We never closed our business. The next day the doors here were open. As you can see, someone’s sitting here right now. We have a municipal election on November the 7th for the city of Leslie and the city of Andersonville that will go forth. We will be in compliance with any state rules and regulations for the Georgia code. We will be in compliance.”

The following was received from Board of Elections member Carson Walker on October 12th via email:

At Tuesday’s called meeting, Mr. Howard’s resignation was accepted. An updated Elections Supervisor’s job description was voted on and approved. The job description will be given to the Sumter County Human Resources department and then approved by the county commissioners at their next meeting. After this process, HR will advertise the position.

Multiple attempts to contact Dr. Shirley Latimore, the chair of the elections board, have been unsuccessful.