Breaking Wednesday, the Georgia State Election Board “took a step toward a possible eventual takeover of elections in the state’s most populous county under a process outlined in the state’s sweeping new voting law.”
The new law allows lawmakers who represent a given county to request a review of local election officials. The review board is to be composed of “three competent persons,” including an employee of the elections division of the secretary of state’s office and two “local election officials.”
The review board must issue a report after conducting a thorough investigation into the competency in the maintenance and operation of election equipment, the administration of registration and elections, as well as compliance with state law.
The state board could eventually suspend the county board if it finds evidence county officials violated state election law or rules three times since 2018 and have not fixed violations. It could also remove the county board if it finds that during at least two elections over two years the board has shown “nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence.”
In a unanimous vote, the board approved a bipartisan, three-person review panel to investigate the handling of the Fulton County elections. Fulton County accounts for about 11% of the state’s electorate and according to the U.S. Census data, the county is roughly 45.5% white, 44.5% Black and 7.6% Asian descent.
The members of the review panel approved by the state board are “Stephen Day, a Democratic appointee to the Gwinnett County election board; Ricky Kittle, a Republican appointee to the Catoosa County election board; and Ryan Germany, general counsel for the secretary of state’s office.”
The AP writes, “With a Democrat from the Atlanta area and a Republican from a more rural part of the state, as well as a lawyer from the secretary of state’s office, the review panel has been ‘carefully balanced to reflect all interests so that the accusations that we heard in the press that this is just a Republican hatchet job against Fulton County is not reflected by this slate of candidates,’ said Matt Mashburn, a Republican member of the State Election Board.”