Members of the Bartow County Board of Elections and Registration at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday unanimously voted to keep Roger Maier on the ballot. Maier is seeking a second four-year term in the Post 2 seat and is being challenged by Davis Nelson in the July 20 Republican primary. No Democrats are seeking the seat.
The vote came as the result of allegations from a Robert Lowe, who asserted that Maier did not reside at the residence he claimed as his voting address -- 1005 Old Alabama Road, Cartersville -- but rather, at a domicile in adjacent District 4. Neither Lowe nor anyone speaking on his behalf participated in the hearing. Maier's representing attorney, John T. Mroczko, said attempts to locate a Robert Lowe in Bartow County were unsuccessful.
"I wanted to talk with him and find out what [he] knew. If there were things we needed to know about, I would like to know what it was, what they thought was the objection to Mr. Maier living inside the district," Mroczko said. "If they're out there, great. If it's the actor [Rob Lowe] in California, we'd appreciate him going back to 'Brothers and Sisters' and do what he does best -- act."
Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk during a called elections board meeting last week presented to board members evidence that had been provided by Lowe and an anonymous mailing -- pictures of the residence at 1005 Old Alabama Road showing that no one resides there, and Facebook photos of family moments at an Old Alabama Road address in Taylorsville. The latter property is owned by Maier and his wife, Robyn K. Maier, according to information from the Bartow County Tax Assessor's Office.
County Attorney Peter Olson advised board members of some state laws governing residency as it relates to elections.
"The pictures of a vacant residence with no testimony behind it don't have any appropriate value in my eyes," Olson said. "You don't know when those pictures were taken. I'm not sure really if there's necessarily any evidence against [Maier] at this point, other than there was the anonymous evidence, but without somebody to testify 'I took this picture at a certain time, and it's a true and accurate picture,' it raised an inference here, but if nobody's got anything to back it up, then there might not a whole lot for the candidate to say."
Maier said he and his family believe they know who took the anonymously submitted photos and are weighing their legal options regarding them.
Mroczko said the photos of the vacant residence were as a result of Maier's recent move from his Cartersville address to Taff Road in Taylorsville. His new home is also in District 2.
"There were anonymous pictures that were sent to the Board of Elections supervisors, and they're pictures of Mr. Maier moving from one residence to another residence, and they came and snapped the photos after he had already moved out," Mroczko said. "He just wished they would have gotten there earlier to help him load some stuff on the truck."
Maier said he and his wife reside in separate Taylorsville homes -- she at the Old Alabama Road residence and he in a recently leased trailer on Taff Road -- due to a "family choice.
"One thing that's important to me is to fulfill my obligations to the children, and that's what we choose to do," he said.
Evidence presented by Mroczko affirming Maier's former and current residences inside District 2 included a stack of mail addressed to 1005 Old Alabama Road, a lease agreement for the trailer at Taff Road and pictures of its living room and kitchen; Maier said he lived in his Cartersville residence for about four years and has been at his new address for less than a month.
"Who expects to have to take photos of the living room to show that they live somewhere?" Mroczko said. "Who expects to have to take pictures of the cable television turned on? Who thinks they have to present a power bill to the elections board showing that they spent $280 in electricity to show that, 'Yeah, I got an air conditioner at this place.' Who expects to have to do that, especially with these faceless accusations?
"With that said, we presented the record [because] in case of an appeal, we needed to have a record that the superior court could look to and say, 'Yes, Mr. Maier does live at this residence.'"
Had Maier not verified his residence, he could have found himself off the primary ballot and even out of his school board seat. Georgia Code 20-2-51 says that "no person shall be eligible for election as a member of a local board of education who is not a resident of the school district in which that person seeks election and of the election district which such person seeks to represent. ... Whenever a member of a local board of education moves that person's domicile from the district which that person represents, such person shall cease to be a member of such local board of education, and a vacancy shall occur."
Maier's residency was questioned earlier in his school board term. The Daily Tribune News in December 2008 received two calls from individuals calling into question Maier's place of residence. Kirk told The Daily Tribune in January 2009 that he had been contacted about a school board member possibly living outside his or her district. He said then that he investigated the matter and found no irregularities in the board members' listed residences.
The Post 2 seat originally had three people vying for it, but Paul Benson dropped out of the Republican primary in June. Assistant Elections Superintendent Mary Milam said that while Benson remains on the ballot, notices at poling places advise voters that he has withdrawn from the race.
Two individuals are vying for each of the two other school board seats up for grabs in this election cycle -- all GOP candidates. In Post 1, incumbent Lamar Grizzle is being challenged by John Howard, while Angie Cornett and David Palmer are seeking the Post 3 seat currently held by Matt Shultz, who is not seeking another term.
Advanced voting for the primary election began Monday and runs through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Bartow County Voter Registration Office, 105 N. Bartow St., Cartersville, and the Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St.
After this week, voters' remaining chance to mark their primary ballots will be Tuesday, July 20, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at their respective polling places.