Should we change how we vote?

Published 12:25 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

Commissioners want district-voting; school board would exclude cities

Both the Covington County Commission and the Covington County Board of Education have unanimously approved resolutions asking Sen. Jimmy Holley and Rep. Mike Jones to pass legislation changing the way future members are elected.

But the ways they want the elections changed are vastly different.

At present, county commissioners must reside in the district they serve, but must seek election countywide. To give members of a district a greater voice in who represents them, commissioners are asking that commissioners be elected by those residing in the district. The commission chairman would be elected countywide.

The board of education wants to continue at-large voting, but limit those eligible to seek office and vote in those elections to “qualified voters living within the said area,” more specifically stated as “within the area of the county lying outside the corporate limits of any municipality in the county having an independent municipal board of election.” Plainly, their plan would not allow residents of Opp or Andalusia to vote for county board members.

The commission approved their resolution earlier this month; the board of education passed their resolution Tuesday. Superintendent Shannon Driver said it’s an issue constituents have long requested.

“We should have done this years ago,” said board member Sonny Thomasson. “We are elected to serve kids in Covington County. Most counties have already done what we’ve done tonight.”

Driver said the board isn’t requesting elections by district because that would involve drawing district lines, and possibly involving the U.S. Justice Department.

Rep. Jones said Wednesday afternoon he would accept the requests and have them researched to determine possible legal issues.

If there are no legal issues, Jones said, the legislation could be written in a way that it only required the approval of the legislature. Alternately, it could be written in a way that would require approval of local voters.