Fulton commission denies Republican elections nominee again

Credit: Screenshot

Credit: Screenshot

Fulton County commissioners firmly rejected a Republican nominee Wednesday for a seat on the Board of Registration & Elections, not only voting against Jason Frazier for a second time but also passing a “motion to deny” so his nomination will not return to the commission agenda.

Rejection of Frazier’s nomination and the subsequent motion to deny both passed 5-2, opposed by the two Republican commissioners, Bob Ellis and Bridget Thorne.

Under a 2021 Georgia law, Frazier has challenged nearly 10,000 voter registrations in Fulton County, alleging some are ineligible and that addresses are inaccurate. His critics say most of the discrepancies are legitimate registrations with minor clerical errors.

Members of the Board of Registration & Elections serve two-year terms. Current members’ terms expire June 30. The board is made up of a chairperson, appointed by the county commission; two Republicans, nominated by the county Republican Party and approved by commissioners; and two Democrats, nominated by the county Democratic Party and approved by commissioners.

In mid-May commissioners suddenly dropped the nomination of former county commissioner Lee Morris to chair the elections board. Morris, a Republican, would have flipped control of the board in Georgia’s largest Democratic-leaning county from Democrats to Republicans.

Morris’ nomination by commission Chairman Robb Pitts drew strong pushback, and he withdrew it at Morris’ request. Instead, Pitts put forward Patrise Perkins-Hooker, currently the elections board’s attorney.

At the June 7 meeting, commissioners reappointed the board’s two current Democratic members, Teresa Crawford and Aaron Johnson, and unanimously approved Republican nominee Michael Heekin. But in an unusual move, they voted 3-2 to reject Frazier.

His nomination returned for a second try Wednesday, leading to a second and final rejection.

Ellis and Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. questioned the need to formally deny Frazier’s nomination. County Attorney Y. Soo Jo and commission Chairman Robb Pitts said that would prevent it from returning on future commission agendas.

Thorne asked if the county Republican Party would be able to submit a new nomination even though current elections board terms expire June 30.

Jo said she knew of nothing to prevent it.

During the commission’s public comment period, more than two dozen speakers demanded Frazier’s appointment, denouncing commissioners and the elections department, with some claiming a conspiracy by the Democratic-majority commission to suborn elections.

Several speakers criticized a recent podcast by Commissioner Dana Barrett, in which she defended Frazier’s rejection and called many of his vote challenges “frivolous.” Some played clips from the podcast on their phones.

Only two speakers urged Frazier’s rejection.

Thorne thanked Frazier’s public supporters, and suggested voting officials were incompetent and that county elections are corrupt.

“If we were logical, and not hypocrites, we would want voter rolls clean,” she said. “We only want one side to have who they think should be on this board.”

Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman noted the vote came a day after a state panel declined to take over Fulton County elections. After a two-year investigation, the State Election Board voted unanimously to leave elections in local hands. The board also dismissed several election fraud and misconduct claims as unfounded. Fulton County asserted there were no violations of state laws or rules in multiple elections.

A new county review of questionable registrations confirmed most of those are authentic. Many of the questioned addresses turned out to be college dormitories, recently built apartments and mixed-use developments.

No illegal voting has been discovered, Fulton Elections Director Nadine Williams said. Election officials mailed notices to the remaining voters whose addresses couldn’t be verified, starting a process that could lead to either corrections or eventual removal from the voter rolls.

Williams said accusations that the county isn’t maintaining its voter rolls are false.

A third-party analysis found that out of 12,400 voter registrations initially flagged as business addresses instead of homes, 83% were valid residential addresses. Confirmation results for 13,000 more addresses that were initially unverified were similar.

About 20,000 registrations remain to be checked. The county is still investigating 566 alleged duplicate registrations and 953 that lack a valid address.

Fulton County, with a population of 1.1 million, has 863,000 on its voter rolls. People who move away are only marked as “inactive” after five years without voting, and their registrations aren’t canceled until two more general elections have passed, so it can take more than seven years to remove them.