Several election boards in the state of Georgia have been reorganized to purge Democrats from the rolls, Reuters reports. The changes have increased the GOP’s power in selecting members of local election boards ahead of the crucial midterm Congressional elections in November 2022.
The restructuring of Georgia’s political map was made possible due to the passing of Senate Bill 202 ,which restricted ballot access throughout the state and allowed the Republican-controlled State Election Board to wield their power over county boards that underperform. One of the board’s first moves was to investigate the Democratic-leaning Fulton County Board, which oversees part of Atlanta.
Democrats argue that Republicans are trying to exert power over the election administration process, which should be a nonpartisan effort and could result in voter suppression. They said that giving Republicans complete control over certification of results, recounts, and audits of contested elections is a recipe for disaster. “We are talking about a normalization of Republican takeovers of local functions,” says Saira Draper, director of voter protection for the Georgia Democratic Party.
Republicans claim that the changes aim to restore public faith in elections after many problems during the 2020 elections. "What we want to make sure is that we have election integrity,” said Butch Miller, who is ranked the #2 top Republican in the Georgia Senate. Miller is also the leading advocate for Senate Bill 202 and a sponsor of the bill to reconstitute the Lincoln County election board.
The restructuring of Georgia’s electorate is part of a national Republican effort to expand control over election administration in the aftermath of Trump’s false voter-fraud claims. States such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona, with Republican governors and statehouses, enacted more restrictive voting laws to curb voter turnout.
Georgia will be a pivotal state in determining which party controls the Senate with several races garnering national attention. Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock will be up for reelection in 2022 and incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp, will be running against David Perdue, who won the endorsement of Donald Trump. The winner will likely face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who’s running for governor for the second time.