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Change might break what's been fixed

Posted: March 16, 2013 - 11:03pm

One surefire way for a politician to avoid criticism is to go with the flow, to protect the status quo, to keep the boat from rocking.

But as another cliche points out, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

Yet what if no one wants the omelet?

That’s the question that arises, perhaps, from state Rep. Barry Fleming’s proposal to remake the Columbia County Board of Elections.

Among other things, he wants to enable the legislative delegation, the county commission and the two cities to make appointments to the board for a total of five members.

Currently, the three-member board is made up of one each appointed by the Republican and Democratic parties, with the third chosen by the first two. That setup has been in place since 1993, when lawmakers devised it in an effort to insulate the board from political influence.

We can’t remember any complaints along the way – and certainly, the board has done an outstanding job of running a tight ship. Much of that Fleming attributes to now-retired Deborah Marshall, who was promoted to executive director in 2000.

For those with longer memories, there were plenty of times in the not-too-distant past when the operations of Columbia County’s elections were subject to political manipulation – but there’s little question that era came to an end with the 1993 law.

Why the change now, 20 years later? Fleming says it’s to give the board’s funding sources – the commission and the legislature – more of a say in the board’s operation. But perhaps it’s necessary to point out that the purpose of the current setup was to limit such influence. Is it really a good idea to invite more of it?

Do we really want to break those eggs? And if they aren’t broken, do we need to fix them?

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Comments (1)

Little Lamb

Meddling

I agree. There are many pressing state issues, so to waste state resources on a county elections board where there are no complaints of corruption, disenfranchisement, shoddy service, etc. is troubling. Is Barry Fleming trying to have some personal leverage by padding the board?

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