Georgia Republicans in the state legislature gave themselves the power to throw out and replace at will any and all county election officials, and the first order of business is to get rid of every county board where Democrats won and appoint a single Republican official to oversee the entire county election process, starting with Atlanta and Fulton County.
Georgia Republicans have taken the first step on their freshly blazed path toward a possible takeover of Fulton County’s elections.
A letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows two dozen state senators support a performance review of Fulton elections chief Richard Barron. The letter was written Tuesday, the very same day a front-page AJC story examined the prospect of a takeover of elections in Fulton, home to a tenth of all Georgians.
“We’re asking them to simply correct a record they say is easily corrected. Is it or isn’t it? The people of Georgia deserve answers,” wrote Republican Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, who signed the letter.
As written into Senate Bill 202, the State Election Board can replace a county’s election board following a performance review/audit/investigation. Then, a temporary superintendent would enjoy full managerial authority of how the county counts votes and staffs polling places.
Barron was not available for comment due to a scheduling conflict, according to a county spokesman.
A performance review begins upon request of at least two state representatives and two state senators from the county.
With more than enough senators, the letter addresses the representatives needed: “We have every reason to believe that the requisite number of Fulton’s House delegation will respond likewise, thereby triggering the performance review.”
Two representatives confirmed to the AJC on Wednesday that they would join the effort.
“I support and will be calling for a performance review of the Fulton County Elections Board Director because of repeated and systemic elections process failures,” House Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones, a Milton Republican, wrote in an email. “This includes an investigation and evaluation of his technical competency and compliance with state law and regulation.”
From Rep. Chuck Martin, a Republican representing the Alpharetta area: “I want to see and will be requesting a full process review of the Fulton County Elections Operations because all the people of Fulton County and the State of Georgia deserve answers ... Let’s work together, get this review moving and get to the truth; the people deserve the truth.”
Rep. David Dreyer, an Atlanta Democrat and head of the Fulton House delegation, said elections are massive logistical undertakings.
“If I were to audit Chick-fil-A and Home Depot … I’d find things that aren’t done perfectly,” he said.
Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said a takeover is really a GOP attempt to wrest control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats and retain the governorship in 2022, with eyes toward 2024.
“It’s been rhetoric until this point. This letter is the first official step in the process,” he said.
Pitts said he intends to form a plan with his staff, including the county attorney, Thursday.
As I said earlier, this is an obvious effort by Georgia Republicans to accuse county election officials in blue (and Black, especially) counties of straight up fraud, remove them for "performance" reasons, and replace them with Republicans who will suppress the Black vote, creating systemic obstacles to Black voters.
I'm hoping that the Justice Department's Voting Rights section comes in like a hurricane to put a stop to this and does way more than just to send sternly-worded letters.
The Justice Department is putting states on notice about their obligations under federal law as GOP-led efforts to conduct reviews of the 2020 election intensify.
Federal authorities on Wednesday issued a pair of new guidance documents to states and voters to remind them of their responsibilities — and their rights.
The moves are part of the Biden administration's push to demonstrate it is on guard amid new voting restrictions proposed and enacted by Republican-led states across the nation — and as Democratic-led federal voting legislation has stalled in Congress.
"We are keeping a close eye on what's going on around the country," said a Justice Department official, who requested anonymity to brief reporters. "If they're going to conduct these so-called audits, they have to comply with federal law."
And while putting an end to Big Lie audits are important, fixing this is just as important, even more so.