Georgia election board chairman to be replaced by a new Republican

Matt Mashburn opposed investigation of Brad Raffensperger.

The acting chairman of the State Election Board, Matt Mashburn, who voted this month against investigating Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s handling of the 2020 presidential election, will soon be replaced.

The Republican-led state Senate intends to appoint a different person to serve as its representative on the board, which handles allegations of fraud and complaints about voting problems, according to two people with knowledge of the plan who wouldn’t discuss it publicly.

Mashburn, an attorney and Republican Party poll watcher before joining the State Election Board in 2020, opposed opening an inquiry into Raffensperger’s oversight of Fulton County’s audit of the presidential election. The board deadlocked 2-2 earlier this month, defeating the proposal.

Three statewide vote counts found that Democrat Joe Biden won the election against Republican Donald Trump by about 12,000 votes in Georgia.

Republican critics of Raffensperger crowded the board’s meeting, but Mashburn said state law doesn’t explicitly allow the board to investigate elected statewide officials. Mashburn and the rest of the board then voted unanimously to ask the General Assembly to clarify its powers.

Mashburn, whose two-year term expired earlier this year, declined to comment on whether his votes had anything to do with his ouster. Mashburn was told he would be replaced before this month’s election board meeting. He was originally appointed to the board by former Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.

“It was the highest pleasure and honor to serve under two lieutenant governors. I’m confident the board’s work will continue,” Mashburn said Tuesday.

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, the Republican president of the state Senate who has criticized Raffensperger, will play a role in choosing Mashburn’s successor. Jones declined to comment.

Both Raffensperger and Jones are potential Republican candidates for governor in 2026, and Jones recently launched an attack ad accusing Raffensperger of going “missing” on elections security.

GOP activists demanded that Mashburn and the other members of the Republican-controlled election board target Raffensperger.

“No one is above the law in a democracy ... and that includes the secretary of state,” Amanda Prettyman of Macon said during public comments to the board. “If you don’t help hold him accountable, who will? Is he accountable to no one?”

The State Election Board has repeatedly dismissed allegations of illegal ballot collection, dead voters and fraud but faulted Fulton County this summer for human errors during its audit of the 2020 election, including over 3,000 double-counted or misallocated ballots. The problems didn’t change the overall results of the statewide audit.

“The election wasn’t stolen, and our office is surprised to see particular members of the State Election Board laying the foundation to discredit the next election,” Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said after the board’s vote. “Once again, we don’t cater to election deniers, and we will continue to focus on a smooth, secure and accurate 2024 election.”

Senate leaders haven’t announced who they will nominate to replace Mashburn during next year’s legislative session.

The five-member board includes four Republicans, appointed by the Senate, the House, the Republican Party and Gov. Brian Kemp. The board has one member appointed by the Democratic Party.

The board has been operating without a permanent chairman since Bill Duffey resigned in September, leaving it with four members. Kemp hasn’t chosen a replacement for Duffey. If Kemp doesn’t appoint a new chairman before the legislative session begins in January, the General Assembly will have the power to do so.