Head of Georgia NAACP resigns from Raffensperger’s election task force

‘It’s all for show,’ he says

The president of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP said Wednesday that he is resigning from a bipartisan election task force formed by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to improve voting policies because the process is a “farce.”

The Rev. James Woodall told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he’s participated in weekly meetings with dozens of other community leaders, elections experts and politicians to review policies and suggest improvements but that “nothing has happened” with their recommendations.

“It’s all for show,” he said in an interview. “He’s trying to play both sides.”

Woodall said he’s long been frustrated with the committee, but that he decided to resign after Raffensperger criticized a judge’s ruling Monday that rejected challenges to the eligibility of more than 4,000 Georgia voters. Raffensperger, a Republican, called the decision a “direct attack on the rule of law in Georgia.

“The latest attempt to disenfranchise eligible Georgia voters flies in the face of the integrity of safe, secure and accessible elections,” he said. “And that’s why I can no longer participate in such a farce.”

Raffensperger formed the task force in October with a mission of “improving the integrity of our elections and increasing voter confidence in their outcomes is vital.” Among its members are former Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, a Democrat.

Since it was created, Raffensperger has drawn widespread praise for rebuking President Donald Trump’s false claims of rampant voter fraud in Georgia – a rejection that’s infuriated the president and drawn promises of a primary challenge in 2022.

With a handful of Georgia county elections directors behind him, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announces the start of a hand recount of the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election during a briefing outside of the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

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But he’s also come under sharp criticism from Democrats for other decisions, such as a spate of recent investigations into left-leaning groups and frequent attacks at Stacey Abrams, the former gubernatorial candidate and voting rights advocate vilified by Republicans.

Woodall said Raffensperger is “playing partisanship 101” with his dual approaches.

“He’s trying to play tough and endorse voter suppression,” he said. “You can’t say that we need bipartisan election reform and then say we need to disenfranchise eligible Georgia voters to benefit the Republican Party.”

Like other officials and advocates, Woodall predicted more partisan turmoil after the Jan. 5 runoffs for control of the U.S. Senate – a high-stakes race that could trigger a new round of dubious lawsuits and misinformation.

“The Georgia NAACP is concerned that that come Jan. 5 and beyond, we’ll see voter suppression in Georgia that’s worse than anything we’ve ever seen,” he said.