New Madison County Probate Judge has plans for improvement

Following an election where some ballots were swollen, Probate Judge Frank Barger said election improvements will be one area, of several, he will target for improvement.

Posted: Jan 14, 2019 9:33 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2019 9:27 AM

Alabama's Secretary of State, John Merril, told WAAY 31 he's happy with the plan from Madison County's new Probate Judge, Frank Barger, to prevent another swollen ballot problem like the one during the General Election in November that caused headaches for some voters.

Judge Barger plans on making sure ballots are not loaded into the secure transport trailers while it is raining. He also plans on making sure the climate controlled building the ballots live in during the election is not too humid.

Improving the voting process is just one thing that has Barger's attention. Besides making sure voters have a good experience at the polls, Probate Judge Barger said he has two other points of emphasis.

One is changing the court's policies for committing people with mental health problems. The other is to improve the guardianship requirements for people who take care of children or elderly people.

In a speech following Barger's swearing in he said the county committed 321 people battling mental health problems in 2018. Over 75 percent of those were repeat commitments, so Barger vowed to work on improving services for people once they're stable and released, "So that we reduce recidivism, expanding the number of days per week we actually handle those mental health commitments so that we serve people as quickly as possible and we are good stewards of county resources," said Barger.

The new Probate Judge said he'll also create better protections for seniors and children that the court oversees, "Tightening up on the reporting process and reporting requirements for conservators or guardians. Some education will be involved that they're going to be required to undergo, so they'll be required to go through that as well," said Barger.

He wants to make sure guardians get all the training they might need, "Many individuals get involved serving as a conservator, or serving as a guardian, with the best intentions, but don't know the amount of work that is involved," said Barger.

Judge Barger said he identified those two areas while handling over a thousand cases serving as a senior officer in the Madison County Probate Office.

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