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Judge rules against Fulton County GOP in dispute about elections board nominee

The GOP nominee to the elections board challenged Fulton County's voter rolls.

Published: July 7, 2023 11:24pm

Updated: July 8, 2023 2:39pm

A Georgia judge has ruled against the Fulton County Republican Party in its effort to get a nominee onto the county election board. 

The group filed a request for a temporary restraining order to keep the county's Board of Commissioners from filling a seat on the elections board. 

Fulton Superior Court Senior Judge Christopher Brasher declined to issue the order Thursday after the commissioners argued there wasn’t a vacancy on the elections board, according to plaintiff attorney David Oles.

The lawsuit has been added to online court records, but the judge's ruling as of Friday afternoon had not. 

Last month, the commissioners voted 5-2 to not appoint Jason Frazier, one of the two nominees that the county GOP chose for Fulton's Board of Registration and Elections.

The county Republican Party believes the board rejected Frazier for challenging voter rolls, and is suing the commissioners for allegedly violating county law by not appointing the party’s nominee.

The board appointed the county Democratic Party’s two nominees and the other Republican nominee.

The board members serve a two-year term, and the most recent term ended on June 30, and the new term began July 1.

During the hearing Thursday, the commissioners argued they they didn’t believe they could “replace the existing Republican holdover at this time” and that there wasn’t “an opening that needed to be filled” on the elections board, Oles said.

Fulton County GOP Chairwoman Stephanie Endres said that the commissioners included an affidavit from a Republican member of the elections board – the holdover – saying that he would stay on until another nominee was chosen.

Endres said she and the holdover "never talked" and that the county side-stepped her and the party by going directly to him.

Oles says: “The party has a right, both as a matter of Georgia law and the federal Constitution under the First Amendment, to the associational right to its choice of nominee.”

Despite the Republican holdover Mark Wingate retaining his seat, the party was still denied its right to have its nominee on the board, he argued.

Four commissioners who voted against appointing Frazier didn’t respond to requests for comment. Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr.’s office declined to comment due to a death in the family.

Commissioner Bridget Thorne, who voted to appoint Frazier to the elections board, told Just the News on Wednesday in response to the lawsuit, “I am not a lawyer, but the actual law uses the words, ‘shall appoint’. From my understanding, the word shall is an imperative command. As commissioners, we should appoint unless the appointee doesn’t meet the qualifications stated in the law i.e. not a Fulton County resident."

She also said, “Frazier has worked as a poll worker, poll tech, and a poll watcher. He recently got into cleaning the voter rolls. His work highlighted the failures of Fulton County Elections to maintain accurate voter rolls as required by law.

"For instance there are people registered first name as ‘no name’ and last name as ‘no name’. Sadly one of these people voted. One illegal vote is one too many for [the] integrity of our elections.”

The other commissioner who voted to appoint Frazier, Bob Ellis, said Thursday regarding Wingate signing an affidavit to stay on the elections board that it “is news to me and the first I’ve heard of it.”

Thorne also said Wingate told her that elections board Chairperson Patrise Perkins-Hooker told him that he had to serve until a replacement is found.

“Normally when a board member’s term expires they can continue to serve until a replacement is found, but they are not under any obligation to continue," she said.

In addition, Thorne said, the other former Republican elections board member also could have stayed on instead of Wingate, but that Perkins-Hooker is "taking it upon herself to choose who continues. That should at the very least be the [decision of the] Chair of the Fulton GOP.”

Wingate didn’t respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Perkins-Hooker didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

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