Should all elections be partisan? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Should all elections be partisan?

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

July 25, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - In Georgia, you must decide.  Vote in the republican or democratic primary? That's because in Georgia, the primary, a nominating process for the general election, is closed. That makes some people mad when they show up to vote and can even hurt the folks running for office.

David Maschke is hoping to serve a third term on the Dougherty County School Board.  He made it through the July Primary, but just barely. Only 587 people voted in his race.

He said, "I don't think anybody predicted that low a turnout on the republican side of the ticket and it was disappointing."

But not a complete surprise. Every local race, other than the District 1 school board was on the democratic ticket. "It seems in dougherty County," said Elections supervisor Carolyn Hatcher, "the local people run democrat more than republican and that's why they wanted folks to pick a democratic ballot to vote for them."

But, as always, it stirred up frustration among folks who wanted to vote in the school board race and other races like the Sheriff or District Attorney. Hatcher said, "In Georgia, we've always had a primary where you have to decide. You have to choose. People don't like it and the only way that it be aleviated is to have these races run as non-partisan in November and not be in a primary, not be democrat or republican. That has to be changed by law."

It's a change Maschke would like to see happen for the Sheriff, District Attorney and school board.  He said, "That would allow everybody to vote on all those important positions in a general election."

And he hopes the school board will look to make the change soon. He said, "I hope that we'll look back into that because I still believe as I did a number of years ago that those races should be non-partisan. It would be the best thing for the voters and for the system because more people would be involved in the decision making process."

Changing the county or school board positions to non-partisan would involve local legislation with approval from the general assembly, but the sheriff and District attorney would require constitutional changes.

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