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GOP approves list of poll watchers

POSTED: July 25, 2012 4:00 a.m.

The executive committee of the Dawson County Republican Party has approved a list of seven people to observe Tuesday's election process.

Republican candidates Mike Connor, who is running for county commission chairman, and District 9 state House hopeful Clint Smith each presented a list of nominees to serve as poll watchers.

Poll watchers help ensure that voters are not influenced in any way on election day.

None of those chosen are members of the local Republican party.

Connor declined to discuss the matter, other than to say "each candidate is entitled to request one poll watcher in each precinct." He has four poll watchers, one for each of the county's precincts and one for the tabulation center.

Smith, who has three observers, said his request was not "taken out of concern or distrust, but simply another positive step in the direction of a campaign."

Dawson's west precinct is not part of District 9. Smith did not request poll watchers for Forsyth and Lumpkin counties, parts of which are also in the district.

Neither Connor's opponent, Mike Berg, nor Kevin Tanner, who faces Smith, requested poll watchers for the July 31 general primary.

Both candidates said they trust the process and have confidence in the people who oversee elections.

The requests were filed July 21, 10 days prior to the election, in accordance with Georgia law, according to GOP Chairman Clint Bearden.

Letters went out Monday notifying the seven selectees of their acceptance, as well as their legal rights and obligations.

"While we, as an executive committee, do not expect that there will be any issues whatsoever, in the event that any issues do arise, we rest all authority, as Georgia law dictates, with the board of elections, and the applicable poll/precinct managers, for actions that may be necessary on the day of the election," Bearden said.

The letter states the "party's aim and goal is to ensure a fair and open relations process," while avoiding "any appearance of coercion or undo influence upon our Republican voters."

In his letter, Bearden also invited each of the approved poll watchers to join the local party.

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