The Georgia State Election Board on Wednesday appointed a majority-Republican panel to evaluate the efficiency of the Fulton County board of elections, one other step towards a possible Republican takeover of the election system within the greatest Democratic county within the state.
The three-person panel will embody two Republicans and one Democrat: Rickey Kittle, a Republican member of the Catoosa County election board; Stephen Day, a Democratic member of the Gwinnett County election board; and Ryan Germany, a lawyer for the workplace of Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state.
The strikes surrounding the Fulton County election board have come as Republican-controlled legislatures throughout the nation angle for higher energy over election administration, usually in search of to strip it from election officers and provides it to partisan lawmakers. These efforts come as former President Donald J. Trump continues to unfold lies and conspiracy theories concerning the 2020 election.
Republicans have additionally pushed to restructure many county election boards in Georgia, doubtlessly permitting extra native G.O.P. officers to take over positions.
The State Election Board was required to nominate the panel reviewing Fulton County below the Georgia voting legislation that Republicans handed in March. Republican state lawmakers who signify the county requested the evaluate final month.
Fulton County, which is the most important within the state and contains a lot of Atlanta, has an extended historical past of struggles with elections, together with a disastrous main in June 2020 by which voting strains lasted for hours.
However Democrats throughout the state have denounced the push for a efficiency evaluate there, noting that there was no proof of widespread voter fraud final yr and that the election outcomes had been affirmed by three recounts and audits. Democrats view the request as a political stunt at greatest, and at worst a partisan takeover in probably the most consequential county for his or her occasion in Georgia.
President Biden carried Fulton County in November with 73 p.c of the vote and greater than 380,000 votes. It’s dwelling to the most important variety of voters of shade within the state. Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have falsely denied Mr. Biden’s slender victory in Georgia, which has lengthy been solidly Republican however final yr tilted to the Democrats within the presidential election and two Senate runoffs.
Voting rights teams criticized the evaluate panel — all white and predominantly Republican — as unrepresentative of Fulton County.
“Fulton County voters deserve higher than this,” mentioned Lauren Groh-Wargo, the chief government of Honest Battle Motion, a voting rights group in Georgia based by Stacey Abrams, the previous Democratic candidate for governor.
The evaluate panel is one among a number of provisions in Georgia’s new voting legislation that lay the groundwork for the takeover of election administration by partisan lawmakers.
However any potential change answerable for the Fulton County election board can be a drawn-out course of, almost definitely taking months given the numerous steps required by the voting legislation.
Mr. Raffensperger, the secretary of state, indicated his help for the panel, writing on Twitter, “I’ve been saying for a very long time that the state wants the authority to step in when counties have constantly failed their voters.”
“I’m assured that the efficiency evaluate group will do a great job, and I hope Fulton will cooperate with this course of,” he mentioned.
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