Georgia Senate confirms election board member accused of election denial

Party-line vote puts Republican Rick Jeffares on the State Election Board

The Georgia Senate filled a State Election Board seat Thursday with a Republican whom a Democratic senator called an “election denier” before the vote.

The majority-Republican state Senate voted along party lines, 32-17, to appoint former state Sen. Rick Jeffares to the State Election Board, which handles complaints about elections.

Jeffares posted Facebook memes in November and December 2020, when Republican Donald Trump was contesting his loss, that suggested dead people had voted by mail, claimed the Democrats and China had colluded, and implied that Democrats had cheated.

Since then, state investigations have repeatedly examined the 2020 election but haven’t found cheating. Three vote counts showed Democrat Joe Biden won in Georgia by about 12,000 votes.

“It is nothing short of dangerous and irresponsible to empower conspiracy theorists on the State Election Board,” state Sen. Jason Esteves, a Democrat from Atlanta, said in a speech opposing Jeffares’ nomination. “This nomination will only serve to further those theories and undermine the people’s confidence in Georgia’s elections.”

Jeffares said he doesn’t know whether the 2020 election was authentic and legitimate.

“I have no idea. I would like to hope so,” Jeffares said in an interview after the vote. “I wasn’t one of those who got involved. I wasn’t running around screaming my head off” about the 2020 election.

“I just want to ensure that all Georgians have confidence in our elections. It’s simple enough. You just want to go up there and vote the right way, make sure things are being done right,” Jeffares said.

Jeffares replaces Matt Mashburn as the Senate’s representative on the board. Mashburn was appointed to the board in 2020 when Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan was Senate president; Jeffares comes in under Republican Lt. Gov. Burt Jones.

Besides Jeffares, the General Assembly also confirmed the new chairman of the State Election Board, Jon Fervier, a Waffle House vice president of risk management and security.

There was no dispute over confirming Fervier, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp this month. The House approved Fervier 160-0, and the Senate backed him 48-1. Voting no was state Sen. Colton Moore, a Republican from Trenton.

There are now four Republicans and one Democrat on the State Election Board.

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