Second GOP member joins Fulton election board

Julie Adams (center) is sworn in as a member of the Fulton County Board of Registration & Elections on Feb. 8, 2024. Clerk of Courts Che' Alexander (left) administers the oath while Mike Heekin, Adams' fellow Republican board member, holds a Bible.

Credit: Jim Gaines

Credit: Jim Gaines

Julie Adams (center) is sworn in as a member of the Fulton County Board of Registration & Elections on Feb. 8, 2024. Clerk of Courts Che' Alexander (left) administers the oath while Mike Heekin, Adams' fellow Republican board member, holds a Bible.

The Fulton County Board of Registration & Elections once again has its full five members, apparently ending a months-long fight over seating a second Republican nominee.

Julie Adams took the oath, and her seat, at Thursday’s regular board meeting.

Fulton County commissioners voted 6-0 to approve Adams’ nomination by the Fulton County Republican Party Jan. 24. She will serve the remaining 17 months of a two-year term, ending June 30, 2025.

County commissioners appoint election board members: a chairperson, nominated by commissioners themselves; two Republicans, nominated by the county Republican Party; and two Democrats, nominated by the county Democratic Party.

Last June, county 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 the second Republican nominee, Jason Frazier.

Two weeks later they rejected his nomination a second time, also passing a “motion to deny” blocking any return of his nomination. Both of those passed by 5-2 votes, opposed by the two Republicans on county commission, Bob Ellis and Bridget Thorne.

In July, the Fulton County Republican Party sued the county commission over Frazier’s nomination, claiming his rejection was “because Frazier had sought to compel Fulton County to clean up its voter rolls.”

The lawsuit argues that commissioners were required to accept Frazier because a county ordinance says the commission “shall” appoint two election board members each from the Republican and Democratic parties. The county’s position was that commissioners are required to make those appointments but not to accept a specific nominee; the GOP could choose a different person.

Ultimately, that’s what Republicans did.

Clerk of Courts Che’ Alexander swore in Adams, whose hand rested on a Bible held by Heekin. Adams recited the lengthy oath affirming her eligibility, promised to oversee fair and secure elections, and uphold the state and federal constitutions. Then she signed a stack of legal paperwork for the position and took her seat the start of Thursday’s meeting.

Adams said she felt honored to serve on the board, and looked forward to working well together with the other members. Adams added that she was not involved in the Republican Party’s lawsuit and did not know how her appointment would affect it.

State and local Republican Party offices did not respond to questions directly, but both issued news releases addressing the subject. They suggest — but do not say outright — that Adams’ acceptance ends the dispute.

The release from the Georgia GOP describes her as an “election integrity champion” and says the legal fight “culminated” in Adams’ approval.

“While it is regrettable that legal intervention and financial resources were necessary to secure a reasonable outcome, I am genuinely pleased with the appointment of Julie Adams,” Party Chairman Josh McKoon said.

According to a biographical blurb provided by the county, Adams has lived in the Atlanta area for 25 years. She has had a 30-year career in the staffing industry and for the last two years has been a director for Tea Party Patriots.

In addition to many volunteer activities, Adams has spent several years as a poll watcher, vote review panelist and tabulation center observer.

In rejecting Frazier, commissioners cited Frazier’s challenge of nearly 10,000 Fulton County voter registrations in the past three years. He alleged many of those registrations were invalid, with some illegible and others having inaccurate addresses. His critics say most of the discrepancies are legitimate registrations with minor clerical errors.

No illegal voting has been discovered, Fulton Elections Director Nadine Williams has 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.

In May 2023, Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts nominated former county commissioner Lee Morris, a Republican, as chair of the election board. If approved, that would have flipped control of the board in Georgia’s largest Democratic-leaning county from Democrats to Republicans.

But that drew strong pushback, and Pitts withdrew the nomination at Morris’ request. Instead Pitts put forward Patrise Perkins-Hooker, a former county attorney and at the time attorney for the elections board. She was approved.

Perkins-Hooker voted in Democratic primaries from 2016 to 2020, according to voter registration records. However, Georgia is an open primary state, so voters can participate in any party primary.