ALBANY, Ga. -- One of five appointed members of the Albany/Dougherty Board of Registration and Elections refused Wednesday to respond to questions about his failure to take part in certifying recent election results, leaving other members of the board to ponder asking for his resignation.
Lonzie White, appointed to the Elections Board by the county's Democratic Party, initially refused to respond to questions about his responsibility as a board member and finally told the board, "I will make no comment tonight. Any comment I have to make will be made to the Democratic Party."
The exchange occurred after the board completed the tedious process of verifying write-in votes cast in the Dougherty County School Board at-large race during the Nov. 6 General Election. Officials in the Elections office told The Albany Herald Monday that the completed verified vote total for write-in candidate the Rev. Lorenzo Heard was 3,583, but Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson advised The Herald Tuesday that that total was incomplete.
Nickerson said after Wednesday's Elections Board meeting that she would have the completed totals today.
Board member Walter Blankenship brought up the subject of White's failure to participate in certification of the election results after the board completed the verification of hundreds of write-in votes cast during the election.
"Mr. White, you seemingly do not want to participate in the certification of elections," Blankenship said. "Does your failure to do so express a personal desire or position not to do so, or was your nonparticipation Monday due to some unavoidable absence?"
White responded, "I don't have a position. I'm not interested in discussing my position."
Blankenship then said the board's bylaws clearly state that its primary duty is to certify election results.
"My only concern, Mr. White, is that as a member of this board, by conscientiously saying you don't want to be a part of the process, that reduces the effectiveness of the board," Blankenship said. "It's clearly a violation of our procedures and bylaws. My question to you is do you have an objection to certifying elections or do you plan to disqualify yourself from certain elections?
"It's not personal. To what extent do you plan to refuse to do what the secretary of state requires us to do?"
White refused to respond.
Blankenship continued, "Ms. Nickerson, as Elections supervisor, cannot certify elections. It is the responsibility of this board. Again, it's nothing personal, but I ask you if you intend to participate?"
White responded, "I have no further comment on this matter, Mr. chairman."
Board Chairman Alan Pendleton asked White, "Do you feel it is your duty to take part?"
White responded, "No comment."
Board member Commodore Conyers asked, "Do you have no comment just tonight or forever?"
Responded White, "I have no further comment tonight."
Conyers asked, "What about the next board meeting (scheduled Dec. 19)?"
"I'll be there," White said.
Pendleton asked, "What do you deem your responsibilities to the Democratic Party?"
White answered, "I'll make my comments to the Democratic Party."
Blankenship said that while he was not making any recommendations at the meeting, Page 8 of the board's bylaws say that the failure by a board member to perform his duties is grounds for the board to ask for that member's resignation.
"The highest priority this board has is certifying elections," Blankenship said. "This is no small matter. It has not come to this point yet, but it's an opportunity that we might make such a request. Maybe this is not where he's happy being."
One member of the Elections board is appointed by each of the Albany and Dougherty County commissions, the Republican and Democratic parties and an at-large member chosen by other members of the board.
The mood of the almost-two-hour-long meeting was lighter during the varification of write-in votes. At one point Blankenship said, "Mr. Conyers, I think hanging chads were a lot easier."
When Nickerson noted that one write-in vote had been cast for Jesus, Blankenship quipped, "I thought He was a Republican."