Brian Kemp hires new elections chief after 'technical error'

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has tapped one of the office's lead investigators to replace the elections director who resigned in April after an error led to thousands of voters being improperly transferred to "canceled" status in the run-up to the primaries.

Chris Harvey, who has worked as the Kemp's chief investigator since 2010, will head the office's elections division, said David Dove, one of Kemp's deputies.

“He has a lot of experience working with election officials, and we’re really excited about him taking this role,” Dove said on Wednesday. “We believe he can continue moving this division in the right direction.”

He will replace Linda Ford, who stepped down after “a technical error” resulted in almost 8,000 voters being shifted from “inactive” to “canceled” status six days after a key internal deadline ahead of last year’s May 20 primaries.

Kemp said at the time that his office’s investigators found one potential voter who faced issues with the change. He said a young woman from Richmond County needed to re-register to vote when she visited her polling precinct, and that it was unclear if she had cast a ballot.

The office does routine work to keep the voter registration roll up to date which involves a process to change the status of long-time inactive voters to “cancelled” status. The process was conducted on Feb. 19, 2015 and moved about 312,000 voters to the new status.

But an investigation by Kemp’s office revealed that six days later, another 7,690 voters were moved from inactive to canceled status. The change was conducted within 90 days of an election and after the deadline. Ann Hicks has served as the office's interim director since Ford resigned in April.

"Chris' knowledge of elections and familiarity with the elections code is unparalleled," Kemp said in an email to elections officials. "I am confident that he has the knowledge and ability to lead the division through the 2016 cycle and beyond to greater successes."

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.