Commissioners graciously accepted the Blackburn Park petition at the beginning of their Wednesday evening meeting.
It seems that the official county form for petitions adopted in July by unanimous vote of the board was merely a recommendation and not a requirement. Quotes from Commissioners in The Dahlonega Nugget article on October 14 continue to verify that they did not agree on what they voted for.
It seems that they do now agree to accept petitions as required by the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution. Chairman Raber was quoted as saying, …All we did was ask that people follow a form so petitions could be legitimized. Yet, the commissioners blindly approved a document that provides for $1,000 fines and imprisonment of up to five years.
Some Commissioners suggested that we should not even have a county form if it won’t be required. Since all commissioners have sworn to uphold the Constitution, eliminating the petition form seems like a wise move.
Reasonable concerns about signers having some interest in the petition purpose were blown entirely out proportion. Invalid signatures are included in every ballot access petition because there is no way for a collector to know that a signer is a registered voter in the district or that the signer has not already signed another page of the petition. The State Elections Division resolves the issue by just not counting invalid or duplicate signatures.
The Lumpkin County Homeowners Association provided an image of 114 petition pages on a CD for each commissioner. They will be able to easily see who is concerned about the future of Blackburn Park. Will an occassional “invalid” signature outweigh the value of signatures from many well known constituents?
Commissioners need to know what their constituents think about the issues. Petitioning is a valuable tool for accessing interest in an issue and for promoting discussion. One would expect elected officials to prefer a single petition instead of a thousand phone calls or emails.