The effort to install local election officials who promote Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen has seen particular success in the crucial state of Georgia, where at least eight county election officials are the promoters of the lie, a Guardian investigation has revealed.
Officials cover the state, from suburban counties outside of Atlanta to rural counties near the Tennessee and Alabama borders. All have substantial power over the administration of local, state, and national elections in their counties, often with little control beyond sparsely attended town hall meetings and small town newspapers.
an election official who posted in favor of a discredited election conspirator who believes that the alleged presence of bamboo in paper ballots is proof that they come from Asia, and thus shows Chinese interference;
two officials who attempted, based on false allegations of fraud, to decertify the results of the January 2021 runoff that resulted in the election of the state’s first black senator;
an official who insisted that Georgia’s election laws had to change if Republicans were to have any chance of winning future elections.
All continue to serve in their designated positions as county election commission officials in Floyd, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin and Spalding counties. None responded to Guardian requests for comment.
The survey covered seven out of 159 counties, meaning the number of election officials supporting election conspiracy theories could be much higher.
These disturbing facts highlight what we’ve known for some time: support for the Big Lie is growing thanks to powerful political actors stoking a dangerous fire, the voting rights group New Georgia Project said in a statement.
There is absolutely no place in our electoral commissions, or in any of our elective offices, for leaders who refuse to accept the results of fair and certified elections.
Electoral commissions have access to voter lists and establish rules regarding polling stations, ballot papers and voter registration. They also make decisions on ballots in which voter intent is unclear.
Boards of directors sit between four and five members, usually split evenly between the two major parties with a nonpartisan, deciding member often chosen by the county commission or a local judge.
With 159 counties, Georgia therefore has hundreds of county election commission officials, creating and changing electoral policy on a weekly basis with few other than local activists and the press to keep up with them.
At least eight county election officials are the promoters of the lie. Composite: Courtesy of The Atlantic Journal Constitution/Larry Ewing/Joel Natt/…
Among them is Dottie Kroll, a 79-year-old Republican serving on the Lumpkin County Board of Elections, located just over an hour north of Atlanta. Shortly after the 2020 election, Krull began posting about the big lie on his personal Facebook page.
I guess we all know why Biden stayed in his basement and didn’t campaign, Krull said, quoting a friend. He knew he didn’t need it.
In Forsyth County, Electoral Board member Joel Natt was on a conference call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other election officials when he blamed unspecified election irregularities for why the Georgians of both parties increasingly trusted Raffenspergers’ office.
In Floyd County, Pam Peters was profiled by an election conspiracy theorist who spoke to The Washington Post as an investigative partner. Days before Election Day, Peters volunteered for Trump in Rome, Georgia.
In Hall County, Board of Elections member Tom Smiley said he disputed claims that the 2020 election saw no fraud, saying he would amend them with NO FRAUD DISCOVERED.
Perhaps no electoral board official has been the subject of more controversy than Alice O’Lenick, chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Enrollment Board.
OLenick has been a strong supporter of restrictions on access to polls and voting rights, critics say. In 2016, OLenick objected to the use of Spanish ballots. (The county was eventually forced to include them by the U.S. Census Bureau under the Voting Rights Act.)
She also supported the abolition of the so-called no-excuse mail-in ballot, advocating that only the elderly or infirm would be allowed to fill out a mail-in ballot; opposed the use of drop boxes, alleging false claims of ballot collection; served on a task force that recommended sweeping changes to voting rights so Republicans could at least have a chance of winning the election; and alleged without providing direct evidence that Gwinnett County has seen an increase in attempts to vote by undocumented immigrants.
In Spalding County, Elections Committee Chairman Ben Johnson continues to publish prolifically on a wide variety of far-right conspiracy theories, including those involving alleged ballot collection and voting machines. of the Dominion. In late April, Johnson shared a photo from Canadian media that had been edited to proclaim that conspiracy theorists are still getting it right.
In Jackson County, Republican Election Board officials Larry Ewing and Jeff Hughes, after a campaign by the national conservative group True the Vote, forced an investigation into 211 people who had voted after recently changing addresses, in the belief unsubstantiated that up to 2,000 Jackson County residents who had recently changed their addresses could have voted illegally.
The couple also refused to certify the runoff election of Raphael Warnock, the state’s first black senator, until the 211 names were forwarded to the Secretary of State for further investigation. The results were finally certified by their dissent.
I cannot stress enough the extent of voter fraud in the area, said Jackson County Democratic Party Chairman Pete Fuller. It’s very disconcerting how effective the misinformation has been.
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