In a contentious decision, elected leaders in Georgia’s most populous county, known for its Democratic stronghold, voted against approving a Republican nominee for the county elections board, Your Content has learned.
The nominee, Jason Frazier, had previously challenged the eligibility of thousands of voters, sparking controversy and concern.
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to reject Frazier’s appointment, while simultaneously approving the appointment of another Republican nominee, Mike Heekin.
Additionally, two Democratic nominees, Teresa Smith Crawford and Aaron Johnson, were reappointed for two-year terms that will commence on July 1.
Fulton County has faced persistent election issues, including voting delays and result reporting problems.
Following a troubled primary in 2020, an independent monitor was appointed to oversee the subsequent general election as part of an agreement between the county and the State Election Board.
The monitor concluded that the county’s election management was inadequate but found no evidence of fraud.
In 2021, Republican lawmakers utilized a comprehensive election law to establish a review panel responsible for assessing whether the state should assume control of Fulton County’s elections.
The panel submitted its final report to the State Election Board in January, acknowledging improvements and recommending against a state takeover.
However, the state board has not yet acted on this recommendation.
Former President Donald Trump targeted Fulton County after narrowly losing Georgia to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 general election.
Trump made unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud within the county.
Before the vote, county commissioners listened to numerous public statements, with most favoring Frazier.
However, voting rights groups expressed concerns regarding his utilization of Georgia law to challenge the eligibility of numerous Fulton County voters, suggesting that he had contested valid voters.
Maya Castillo, director of voter protection for Fair Fight, a group founded by two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, emphasized the adverse impact of baseless challenges on voter registration, ballot casting, ballot counting, election workers, and the overall electoral system.
Republican Commissioner Bridget Thorne supported Frazier, asserting that he had undertaken tasks that the county had neglected regarding voter roll clean-up.
Thorne criticized Democrats for rejecting a qualified individual selected by the Republican Party.
While questioning the qualifications of the Democratic nominees, Thorne ultimately voted to approve them, citing the party’s right to have representation on the board.
Frazier’s rejection followed a recent controversy surrounding the selection of the election board’s chair, who is appointed by the commissioners.
Initially, Board of Commissioners Chairman Robb Pitts nominated former commissioner Lee Morris for the chair position, which would have resulted in a Republican majority on the election board within the predominantly Democratic county.
However, due to backlash from Democrats and voting rights groups, Morris withdrew his nomination. Subsequently, lawyer Patrise Perkins-Hooker was nominated by Pitts and received approval for the position, according to ABC News.