The City of Valdosta approached the Lowndes County Board of Elections Tuesday to inform them that the city wants to have its own elections supervisor qualify candidates and to collect fees, something the city has historically done.

The move stems from the debacle from the 2003 mayoral election when the city unsuccessfully sued the Board of Elections to have qualifying reopened following Mayor Jimmy Rainwater's unexpected death.

After that election, the BOE decided to make its contracts with the municipalities and school boards in Lowndes County all-encompassing, allowing them to conduct the elections through the entire process.

In the past, and the not too distant past at that, Valdosta city councilmen have been accused of trying to tamper with elections, and candidates reported being intimidated during the qualifying process.

Removing the city's ability to qualify candidates is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that elections are conducted fairly by an impartial body. Giving the election's board control from beginning to end removes elected officials and city paid administrators from hindering the process in any way.

The City of Valdosta needs to sign the contract with the Board of Elections and allow the board to do its job -- a fair and unbiased job, unhindered by small town politics which should no longer have a place in our metropolitan city.

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