Dale commission, election officials 'dissatisfied' with appointment process

A new appointment to the Dale County Board of Registrars has prompted action on the part of the Dale County Commission and county election officials.

“We are in hopes that it will get some statewide attention and hopefully get some attention on how the whole Board of Registrars makeup is done,” Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship said at the commission meeting Sept. 10.

At issue is a recent appointment Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Rick Pate made to the three-member Dale County Board of Registrars.

The Board of Registrars presides over the first phase in the election process, registering voters and maintaining the records of all registered voters in the county. The board is responsible for certifying the list of eligible voters used to identify voters at the precincts and at the conclusion of voting, the voter lists are returned to the board where each voter’s participation becomes part of his or her voting record or history. The Board also makes determinations on all provisional ballots voted on Election Day.

A county’s Board of Registrars consists of three members appointed for four-year terms by the Governor of Alabama, the Alabama State Auditor and the Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

Pate’s appointment replaces a seasoned board member. “We have a 10-year board of registrars person that we have had zero problems with being replaced,” Blankenship told the commission. “They made an appointment based on a recommendation from a local mayor and didn’t consult any of us in county government or any of our election officials.”

Blankenship said that the first any of the county election officials knew of the new appointee was when the current board member was notified that she was going to be replaced at the end of September.

The commission agreed to join with Dale County Probate Judge Sharon Michalic, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson and Dale County Circuit Clerk Delores Woodham in sending a letter “expressing our dissatisfaction” with the appointment method to each of the appointing authorities.

“It’s probably been as smooth as it has been in years with this Board of Registrar’s office,” said Olson, questioning why a change was made.

Blankenship agreed. “The appointment system needs revamping,” he said. “It’s a constitutional issue. We just hope that the letter gets it to a level that somebody is interested in making changes to the appointment system.”

The next meeting of the Dale County Commission is Sept. 24 in the Dale government building in Ozark. A work session begins at 10 a.m. and is followed immediately by a voting meeting. Both meetings are open to the public.

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