Fulton waits for contract on new elections director

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Fulton County commissioners held off Wednesday on naming interim elections director Nadine Williams to the permanent job.

Though discussion of her appointment was expected after a closed-door executive session, no action was taken so that the Board of Registration and Elections can finalize a contract. The commission will likely take up the appointment at its Feb. 15 meeting.

County officials said they conducted a months-long national search for a new director, and on Jan. 12 the elections board voted to make Williams the sole finalist for the permanent job. During less than a year as interim director, Williams has overseen four elections while improving processes, according to a statement from Cathy Woolard, elections board chair.

Williams has worked in Fulton County elections since 2010, serving first as elections equipment manager and then elections chief. She has been interim director since the departure of Richard Barron, who stepped down in April following nine contentious years on the job.

The elections board voted to fire Barron after the botched 2020 primary, but county commissioners overruled that decision.

Following narrow Democratic victories and unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the 2020 general election, Georgia’s Republican-controlled General Assembly passed an “election takeover” law allowing county boards of election to be replaced by the state.

The first, and so far only, substantial use of that law was appointment of a bipartisan panel to consider taking over elections in Fulton County, which was key in Democratic victories.

After 17 months of study, the panel released a report Jan. 13 saying Fulton election officials should not be replaced. The report noted no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, and continuing improvements in the operation of 2021 and 2022 votes.