Democrats in an Atlanta-area county stepped in to prevent a local elections board from holding its director accountable for the mishandling of recent elections that resulted in their party taking total control of the federal executive and legislative branches.
After months of then-President Donald Trump and his supporters sounding the alarm over vote-fraud concerns due to increased mail-in ballots, Georgia became the center of the political storm in the aftermath of last year’s Nov. 3 presidential election.
Few counties were more to blame for the rampant vote-fraud that many eyewitness accounts alleged had transpired than Fulton, which encompasses a large portion of central Atlanta.
In response, the county’s Board of Registration and Elections voted 3-2 on Tuesday to fire Rick Barron, the elections director, who has held the post since 2013.
Republicans on the board argued that bringing in new leadership was an important step toward leaving the contentious presidential election and subsequent Jan. 5 Senate runoff behind.
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But the Fulton County Commissions board refused the recommendation to fire Barron over continued concerns about voter fraud.
“This is not political. This is a bipartisan vote,” Kathleen Ruth, a Republican member of the board, said.
“The department needs new leadership that can take Fulton to the next level, modernizing the elections process, making the county’s elections system more accurate and cost-effective and efficient.”
Although legal questions lingered over whether the commissioners had the authority to reverse the motion, ultimately the deadlocked board of commissioners sealed its fate by failing to approve the recommendation.
There were three members in favor of firing Barron, and three against. Commissioner Natalie Hall abstained.
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“We need to get an opinion from the county attorney as to whether it’s properly before us or not, but the bottom line though right now is Mr. Barron is still the director,” Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts said on Wednesday.
Barron’s staff pleaded with the election board to keep him on, claiming Fulton County’s elections had all been a “success” under Barron.
“The person who is responsible for our success, the County’s success amid all of this, is current Director Richard Barron who has shown his ability to guide, motivate, steer and maintain the course of integrity, honesty, and fairness,” the staff wrote in a letter to the elections board.
But Democrat elections board member Vernetta Keith Nuriddin said Fulton County’s mismanagement had been a problem long before the 2020 election.
“My decision was not based on 2020′s election, but 2017, 2018,” Nuriddin said. “We have just consistent, continual issues around the absentee ballot process.”