Term limits on Columbia County Board of Elections agenda

The Columbia County BOard of Elections will meet the day after the primary election to prepare for a referendum on the next election.

The meeting, set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, will be held at the Board of Elections office in Evans, said Registration Coordinator Nancy Gay.

The board will accept the call for a special referendum election in response to legislation allowing voters to decide whether to impose a two-term limit on Columbia County commissioners, Gay said.

The action is a formality, but is required before the referendum can be approved by the U.S. Justice Department and placed on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

Columbia County commissioners in January unanimously approved a resolution asking the county’s legislative delegation to place the term limits question on the county ballot. State Rep. Ben Harbin sponsored the local legislation, which won approval from the Legislature and later was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Voters in November will be asked whether to approve a measure that, starting next year, would limit county commissioners to holding the same seat for two consecutive four-year terms. It wouldn’t apply to the current terms of incumbent commissioners, but would start at their next election.

Commissioners and the chairman would be required to sit out for at least one year before seeking the same office again, though a chairman would be allowed to run for a district seat, and a district commissioner would be allowed to run for chairman.

The measure would not apply to members of the school board.

Currently, county commissioners, school board members and the chairmen of both five-member bodies serve four-year terms, with elections staggered so that no more than three from each body are up for election in the same year.

State lawmakers are elected to two-year terms with no statutory limits on the number they can serve. U.S. House members serve unlimited two-year terms, while U.S. senators serve unlimited six-year terms. Georgia’s governor, like the United States president, is limited to two consecutive four-year terms.

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