County Commissioner Greg Hansen will serve on the county canvassing board as the commission’s representative for the 2020 election cycle, with Commissioner Charlie Ericksen as the alternate.
Ericksen agreed to the appointment “with crossed fingers, and my health and stuff in the next few months,” he said. Ericksen has been in poor health and had to miss a few meetings in recent months. He is eligible to serve on the canvassing board because even though his seat is up next year, he has announced he will not run again.
“It’s a very important job, Charlie has done it, we’ve had to do it, it’s a lot of time, but it’s very important to make sure there’s no questions about how the vote comes out–how the votes are counted,” Commissioner Dave Sullivan said.
The canvassing board meets publicly at the Supervisor of Elections’ office with recurring frequency as elections approach, then during and immediately after elections. The board oversees the process, from ensuring that voting and tabulation machines are calibrated properly to counting mailed-in and provisional ballots, among other duties. The board is chaired by County Judge Melissa Distler, who sits alongside a county commissioner and the supervisor of elections.
Boards rarely make news in the absence of voting controversies. That’s been the case since Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart’s tenure, starting in 2015. Under her predecessor, Kim Weeks, the board was a hub of controversy, though most–or all–of the controversies were largely the product of Weeks’s unfounded conspiratorial assumptions. Memories of those unsettled days echo in commissioners’ comments about the board to this day (and Weeks herself is still mired in appealing her felony convictions that stemmed from her time on the board).
“I have to say between Miss Lenhart and our county judge, she runs a tight ship and we’re in good hands,” Commission Chairman Don O’Brien said Monday evening as the commission was naming its representative to the canvassing board. But Lenhart may not serve on the board this year.
Normally the chairman of the county commission sits on the three-member county canvassing board. O’Brien is chairing the commission this year. But he’s running for re-election and has drawn at least one opponent in the Republican primary, disqualifying him from sitting on canvassing. Commissioner Dave Sullivan is also running for re-election. Though he’s not yet drawn an opponent, he is likely to.
Lenhart is also in a re-election campaign, though so far she has not drawn an opponent. If that holds, her replacement on the canvassing board won’t be necessary. But if she draws an opponent in the non-partisan race, she would normally be replaced by a county commissioner substitute. Nicole Williams, the government affairs director for the Flagler County Association of Realtors, would be that substitute. Williams served as Lenhart’s substitute in 2016.