Credit: Bibb County Board of Elections
No Sunday Voting Prompts Bibb Democrats To Remove Elections Representative
When the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections considered Sunday voting last week, members deadlocked 2-2.
One of the two Democratic representatives on the board, Cassandra Powell, did not cast a vote and now her party seeks to remove and replace her.
The executive committee of the Bibb County Democratic Party held a called meeting Monday and unanimously voted to oust Powell.
In a Tuesday letter to elections supervisor Jeanetta Watson, local party chairwoman Anissa Jones stated that Powell’s removal “with cause” was “effective immediately.”
Jones quotes the Macon-Bibb County code of ordinances: “Each member shall be subject to removal from the board at any time in the same manner and by the same authority provided for removal of registrars under the provisions of Georgia Laws.”
Georgia law that governs removal of registrars states that the superior court judge or senior judge has the right to remove a person “at any time for cause after notice and hearing.”
Wednesday, William Noland, attorney for the board of elections, wrote a response to Jones’ letter explaining that Powell remains in the post and that the party’s planned replacement, Darius Maynard, would not be recognized as a member of the board.
“Please be advised that neither Georgia law nor any Macon-Bibb County ordinance or charter provision allow for a political party to unilaterally remove one of its appointees from the board during that member’s term,” the letter stated.
Thursday, Noland declined to elaborate on the board’s position, but preferred to let his letter speak for itself.
Henry Ficklin, the other appointed Democrat serving on the board, also penned a letter to Jones condemning the “vicious and egregious attempt” to remove Powell.
As Ficklin expressed his support of his colleague, he stated he was “appalled and embarrassed at the level of comprehension and comportment displayed by various groups in democratic quarters of our community concerning matters of regulatory order and basic organizational structure.”
Ficklin said the move was “very Trump-like and actually violates the long established democratic principle of ‘due process.’”
He also noted the party’s letter fails to specify the cause for her removal.
Minutes from the Democratic executive committee’s called meeting show the party previously agreed that Powell should vote for Sunday voting.
Macon-Bibb Commissioner Elaine Lucas expressed concern that not only did Powell not carry out the wishes of the party, but that the county commission also endorsed Sunday voting.
Lucas made a motion to remove Powell, which was seconded by Al Tillman, who serves as mayor pro tem on the county commission. The committee voted 16-0 to remove Powell.
Thursday, Jones said Powell’s failure to vote as the party sanctioned “reflects to an injustice to democracy everywhere not to give the citizens of Macon-Bibb County an opportunity to vote and especially during a global pandemic.”
During the last board of elections meeting, Powell did not speak at all in the debate about Sunday voting. She did voice concerns later in the meeting about poll workers having the appropriate personal protection equipment to help keep them safe from COVID-19 while working with the public.
Attempts to reach Powell for comment Thursday were unsuccessful. Telephone messages left for her were not immediately returned.
It is unclear whether her party leaders will pursue other efforts to try to remove her.
Jones said the committee has yet to fully discuss their options. All of the officers would have to unanimously approve another called meeting, she said.
Ficklin, who also serves on the Bibb County Democratic Executive Committee, said he tried to join Monday’s Zoom call but was not let into the online forum for discussion. He also indicated that he had advised Jones that the committee was limited as to what they could do to remove Powell.
“I am strained to find reason for your decision,” Ficklin wrote.
Ficklin pointed out Powell is a “battle tested warrior from the Civil Rights struggle against the dogs and fire hoses of Bull Conner in Alabama…” and that he found it “difficult for me to fathom” that the minutes of the called meeting did not include “anyone considering due process or the rights of Member Powell to defend herself.”