Georgia Republicans have found their pretext for using new state laws to take over and replace the county election board in Atlanta's Fulton County, leaving elections in the largest county in the state under permanent Republican election rule heading into 2022 midterms.
The elections office in Georgia’s heavily Democratic Fulton County said on Monday that two workers had been fired for shredding voter registration forms, most likely adding fuel to a Republican-led investigation of the office that critics call politically motivated.
The workers, at the Fulton County Board of Elections, were dismissed on Friday after other employees saw them destroying registration forms awaiting processing before local elections in November, the county elections director, Richard Barron, said.
Both the county district attorney and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s chief elections official, were asked to conduct inquiries into the matter, the chairman of the Fulton County Commission, Robb Pitts, said in a statement.
But it was Mr. Raffensperger who first revealed the allegations of shredded registration forms, issuing a blistering news release demanding that the Justice Department investigate “incompetence and malfeasance” in the agency. “After 20 years of documented failure in Fulton County elections, Georgians are tired of waiting to see what the next embarrassing revelation will be,” he said.
His declaration only underscored the political implications of the document-shredding charges, which would almost certainly have been less freighted in any other election office. Fulton County officials did not say how many forms were shredded, but Mr. Raffensperger put the total at about 300 in a county with 800,000 voters on the rolls.
While the charges of wrongdoing surfaced on Friday, it was unclear when the actual destruction of registration forms might have occurred.
Mr. Raffensperger, who won national attention for rejecting former President Donald J. Trump’s request to “find” enough ballots to overturn President Biden’s narrow win in the state, faces a difficult primary race next spring against a rival endorsed by Mr. Trump. The Fulton County elections office, meanwhile, has become the object of fury by Trump supporters who baselessly claim that Mr. Biden’s win in the state was illegitimate.
Some supporters are suing to conduct yet another review of the presidential vote in Fulton County, which includes a broad swath of metropolitan Atlanta and where 73 percent of voters favored Mr. Biden. The statewide Georgia vote has been counted three times with zero evidence of fraud.
The Republican-dominated State Legislature approved legislation this spring that gives it effective control of the State Election Board, and empowers the board to investigate legislators’ complaints about local election bodies. Fulton County was quickly selected for an inquiry that eventually could replace the elections board with a temporary superintendent who would have sweeping powers to oversee the vote.
Voting rights advocates and Democrats statewide have cast the inquiry as a first step toward a pro-Trump takeover of election machinery in the county most crucial to Democratic hopes in future elections.
“I don’t think there’s another state in the union that has a State Election Board with the power to turn a nonpartisan elections office into a partisan arm of the secretary of state’s office,” Mr. Barron, the Fulton County elections director, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Replacing elected officials with a Republican-appointed superintendent in Fulton County was always the goal of the Georgia GOP "election reform laws", much like Michigan's vile "emergency manager" law used in Flint. That turned into a major federal corruption case when that happened.
Nobody will be prosecuted here when the Republican superintendent mysteriously calls Fulton County for the GOP in 2022 and for Trump in 2024. Trump will need this foul infrastructure in place to steal the election and he's increasingly going to get it.
To do that, he's going to purge every non-loyalist from the party, especially election officials. Even in Red state counties where Trump won, the insufficiently loyal, those who refuse to fix elections so that Democrats can never win even in blood red counties, they are being removed by the dozens, if not hundreds.
An elections administrator in North Texas submitted her resignation Friday, following a monthslong effort by residents and officials loyal to former President Donald Trump to force her out of office.
Michele Carew, who had overseen scores of elections during her 14-year career, had found herself transformed into the public face of an electoral system that many in the heavily Republican Hood County had come to mistrust, which ProPublica and The Texas Tribune covered earlier this month.
Her critics sought to abolish her position and give her duties to an elected county clerk who has used social media to promote baseless allegations of widespread election fraud.
Carew, who was hired to run elections in Hood County two-and-a-half months before the contested presidential race, said in an interview that she worried that the forces that tried to drive her out will spread to other counties in the state.
“When I started out, election administrators were appreciated and highly respected,” she said. “Now we are made out to be the bad guys.”
Critics accused Carew of harboring a secret liberal agenda and of violating a decades-old elections law, despite assurances from the Texas secretary of state that she was complying with Texas election rules.
Carew said she is joining an Austin-based private company and will work to help local elections administrator offices across the country run more efficiently. She will oversee her final election in early November before leaving Nov. 12.
David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a nonprofit that seeks to increase voter participation and improve the efficiency of elections administration, said Carew’s departure is the latest example of an ominous trend toward independent election administrators being forced out in favor of partisan officials.
“She is not the first and won’t be the last professional election official to have to leave this profession because of the toll it is taking, the bullies and liars who are slandering these professionals,” said Becker, a former Department of Justice lawyer who helped oversee voting rights enforcement under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. “We are losing a generation of professional expertise. We are only beginning to feel the effects.”
No expertise is needed to administer elections in Trumpland. Just loyalty to Dear Leader.