GEORGIA'S SB 202 ENABLES STATE TAKE OVER OF LOCALLY ADMINISTERED ELECTIONS
SB 202 gave Georgia’s State Election Board power to intervene in County Election Boards it deems to be underperforming through a performance review. The bill allows the State Election Board to suspend county level boards and replace them with a one-person “board” as a temporary replacement.
At the end of July, 5 GOP state representatives requested this statute be applied for the first time against Fulton County’s County Board of Elections.
Fulton County is Georgia’s post populous county and covers a large swath of Atlanta. The county leans heavily Democratic. The county is 45% African American.
Preceding the review, many people have questions about what exactly SB 202 entitles Georgia’s State Election Board to do. Here is a summary of its new powers.
Who can initiate a election board performance review?
A majority vote by the County Board
For counties represented by 4+ members in the State Legislature, 2 State Representatives and 2 State Senators may request the review
For counties represented by less than 4 members in the State Legislature, 1 State Representative and 1 State Senator may request the review
A majority vote by the State Elections Board
Based on the report results:
The County may petition the State Election Board to suspend the County Board of Elections and appoint a temporary replacement.
The State Election Board, on its own, may begin the process for suspending a County Board of Elections and appoint a temporary replacement.
In order to suspend the County Elections Board, the performance review must find that:
A county has committed at least three violations of GA’s election code or State Election Board rules in the last two general election cycles and has not remedied the violations;
Or by clear and convincing evidence, the county has demonstrated nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence in election administration for at least two elections within a 2 year period.
This policy in SB 202 allows for partisan-motivated election performance reviews to commandeer locally administered elections through potentially vague and unconfirmed deviations from official election policy.