Election Review Panel should ‘respect the work of the community members who risked their lives to ensure Fulton County had free and fair elections’

Today, the State Election Board appointed an Election Review Panel to “examine” the Fulton County Elections Board, the first step toward a potential state takeover of the Board.


Statement of Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis

One of the reasons why so many Americans continue to have faith in our elections is because they are administered at the local level – by members of our communities. 

Across the county, more than 775,000 Americans stepped forward to work on last year’s elections — despite the pandemic. Their hard work should be honored and appreciated, not tossed aside or twisted for partisan advantage.

Fulton County elections staff were hit particularly hard by the pandemic. A longtime employee died of COVID shortly before the primary elections. There was another outbreak of COVID among Fulton elections warehouse staff in late October. Yet the elections were held, and the results were upheld — particularly through multiple recounts of the presidential election.

Now the County’s Elections Board is being targeted for possible state takeover. 

At the start of that process — where we are now — what does that say to the elections workers who literally risked their lives to ensure that Fulton County could hold its elections despite the pandemic? 

And at the end of the process — where we may be eventually — what will that say to the voters in Fulton County? If the elections are being run by a highly partisan state board — are the voters in Fulton County supposed to trust those elections? Would any of us be willing to trust elections that are, essentially, run by a single political party?

This is America, where we have a long history of nonpartisan election administration. This is Georgia, where we have teamed up workers from both parties in “adjudication teams” to review questionable ballots and decide whether to count them.

Now our system is tilting toward partisan election administration — where one party can place its thumb heavily on the scales. That’s not the America most of us believe in.

I hope the members of the new Election Review Panel will keep all this in mind as they conduct their review. 

People are human, and mistakes happen during any election. That’s why elections have so many fail-safes built-in to the system, to detect those mistakes and fix them before the election is certified.

Last year’s elections were held during a pandemic that hit Fulton County elections workers particularly hard.

The eventual report of the Election Review Panel should reflect those two realities, and respect the work of the community members who risked their lives to ensure Fulton County had free and fair elections.