Fostering voter turnout

Board of Elections Director Beau Gunn is a native of Emanuel County.

Board of Elections Director Beau Gunn is a native of Emanuel County.

The Board of Elections has a new director with an impressive resume.

Beau Gunn, in his midthirties, assumed his newest role Jan. 31. He comes to Burke County after serving as Deputy Director of Election Services for the Secretary of State’s Office.

He graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in political science, not yet realizing his passion for election-oriented work. He began his career in Emanuel County, serving as director in his birthplace.

“I was fortunate enough to find a job in elections,” he said. “I really enjoy the field since it is the most direct way that citizens can have a say in government of any level. It fit, so when I landed in it, it grew on me.”

While serving in Emanuel County, he and his wife, Rachel, decided to try out “metro living.” Cobb County employed him first as absentee supervisor, overseeing both inperson and by-mail early voting. He was then promoted to Voting Registration Manager.

“Cobb County was widely known, and still is, as one of the gold standards in Georgia elections,” he said and credited

Janine Eveler as the best director in the state. Having worked in Cobb County during the heated 2020 election cycle, Gunn believes that the controversial election brought more awareness to a lot of people. It also brought more accountability to election employees.

“It has made people in the general public realize, ‘hey, we need to be more involved, at least pay more attention to the process,” he said, “which I think has been extremely important. The government is at its best, when it is best representing its people, and the way that happens is when people actually take part in the process.”

COVID-19 also made an impact on elections. The pandemic opened up more opportunities and presented greater challenges for election officers. It also shined a light on the various ways that people can vote, Gunn said. People who had always voted in-person, voted by mail-in ballot for the first time.

While it was a tough decision to move to the state-level position with the Secretary of State’s Office, Gunn says he “wanted to see the elections from a different side and be a better helping hand to the state as a whole.”

Returning to county-level elections here enables Gunn to move closer to family and to give back to the type of community that raised him, he said.

Gunn says the diversity of his co-workers has exposed him to varying perspectives. He hopes to use some of that experience to increase voter participation locally. While educating people on the various ways they can vote is an important topic, he also intends to focus on voter outreach and familiarizing Burke Countians with the newer Dominion voting system.

“I would like to allow people to demonstrate it,” he said. “I hope to foster, in the best sense possible, voter turnout and voter engagement in Burke.”

Gunn will begin by presenting a calendar, marking Board of Election meetings for the year, to be published on the department’s website. The meetings will generally continue to take place on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m.

“I am very happy to be here,” he said. “I am from South Georgia originally, so it’s good to be back. We had a great experience in the metro area, but I am looking forward to being part of this community and increasing voter engagement and turnout.”

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