US/GA/2021 county election board purge
Georgia's Senate Bill 202, aka the Election Integrity Act of 2021, allows (among other things) the Republican-controlled State Election Board (SEB) to assume control of county boards it deems "underperforming", as part of the ongoing Trump self-coup. Since the bill was enacted in March, the SEB has undemocratically changed the membership of county boards in:
- Spalding County, replacing a Democratic majority of three Black women and a Black elections supervisor with a controlling faction of three white Republicans
- Vera McIntosh, a Black Democrat, was replaced by James Newland, who is also vice-chair of the county Republican Party.
- The board's new chairman is Ben Johnson, a former official of the county Republican party who has endorsed former president Donald Trump's false stolen-election claims on social media.
- The new law requires the elections supervisor to live in the county, which forced out the incumbent supervisor, Marcia Ridley.
- Two other Black Democrats on the board, Margaret Bentley and Glenda Henley, quit – citing objections to the law and harassment from Trump supporters.
- The new board has already cancelled Sunday voting (very popular with Black voters)
- The parties still choose two members each but the fifth member is now chosen by local judges, where it used to be decided by a coin flip. Those judges tend to be conservoids.
- Troup County, ousting a Black Democratic member who believes she was targeted for her efforts to increase voting access
- Morgan County, ousting two outspoken Black Democrats, Helen Butler and Avery Jackson, due to the new law's elimination of political-party appointments. Both sought reappointment but were denied.
- «Butler has long advocated for voting rights and social justice. Testifying before a special U.S. Senate subcommittee in July, she said she was ousted for fighting the closure of polling locations and advocating for ballot drop boxes.»
- Pickens County
- Stephens County
- Lincoln County
- The new board proposed consolidating its seven precincts into one voting center, hindering less-wealthy voters in outlying areas
Board members' party affiliation is not public information in Georgia, and board representatives for Troup, Morgan, and Pickents declined to identify their allegiances, so it has not yet been possible to identify the change in overall political bias resulting from the changes in those counties.
In Troup, Morgan, Pickens, Stephens, and Lincoln, the SEB shifted the power to appoint some or all election board members to local county commissions, all of which are currently controlled by Republicans. Previously, the appointments had been split evenly between the local Democratic and Republican parties, sometimes with other local entities controlling some appointments.
The supposed justification for these changes overall is to "ensure election integrity", of course – but just as predictably, no evidence has been offered that there is any threat to election integrity other than that posed by Republicans trying to take control of the process.
(The purpose of the bill is "to restore the integrity of our election board and voter confidence" according to David Knight from Spalding, co-sponsor of the bill to reconstitute Spalding's Board.)
Lincoln County Republicans argue that the changes there «are meant to comply with a 2018 state Supreme Court ruling, which dictated that private entities cannot appoint members to government bodies. That decision, however, involved boards of ethics, not elections, and many other Georgia counties continue to allow political-party appointments to election boards.»
- 2021-12-09 Georgia Republicans purge Black Democrats from county election boards «The unusual rash of restructurings follows the state's passage of Senate Bill 202, which restricted ballot access statewide and allowed the Republican-controlled State Election Board to assume control of county boards it deems underperforming.»
Apparently they did something similar in 2018:
- 2018-10-19 They Didn't Vote ... Now They Can't «Georgia purged an estimated 107,000 people largely for not voting, an APM Reports investigation shows»