Amid a court battle over elections board, Fulton County faces challenges to its voter rolls

The Fulton County GOP's nominee for elections board found about 20,000 duplicate registrations and submitted about 10,000 challenges.

Published: September 5, 2023 11:00pm

While the Fulton County Board of Commissioners is in a court battle with the Fulton County GOP over the party’s nominee to the elections board, the county has also faced challenges from that nominee over voter roll maintenance. 

In June, 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 (BRE). 

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, the most recent of which ended June 30. The new term began July 1. 

Frazier told Just the News last week that he found about 20,000 duplicate registrations in Fulton County’s voter rolls and believes that “a bulk” of them have been fixed. He also submitted about 10,000 challenges and said that there are around 1,600 voter registrations in “challenge” status.

Challenges to voter registrations can be for reasons such as voters registering at non-residential addresses, missing names, and deceased voters who are still on the rolls. Many of Frazier's challenges involve registrations with invalid or non-residential addresses.

Duplicate registrations are viewed by the county as "clerical errors" and don't need to be challenged since the county will simply merge the duplicate registrations, according to the BRE.

Frazier mentioned that 2,000 people who registered to vote lived at "missing address" street, such as, “1250 Missing Address Street.”

“If I’m on the BRE," Frazier said that he hopes he'd be able to "see who’s registering them. Is it a group or bad clerks?”

He added that “if they’re making that many clerical errors, then double-check them or train them better," or make some personnel changes because of people "‘making errors.' A root cause analysis is needed, not just repeating the same problem. It's a process that needs change.”

Frazier also said that there were 14 people missing a first name, a last name or both on the voter rolls. This included voters named “missing, missing” or “no name, no name” on the voter rolls.

When a voter’s registration is challenged, the voter and the challenger are called to attend a hearing to help the BRE resolve the registration issue. Frazier has attended multiple hearings before the BRE regarding challenges.

In a hearing March 14, 2022, which Frazier attended, Fulton County Registration Chief Shamira Marshall said that she received a list of 11,000 duplicate voter registrations. When Marshall was asked by BRE Chair Cathy Woolard as to why the county missed the duplicates, she said she didn’t “have a direct answer,” but that she could “try to figure [it] out.”

Marshall explained the Secretary of State’s office sends the county a list of duplicates on a monthly basis, and the county also checks for them when processing voter registration applications.

Woolard referenced language from Georgia Senate Bill 202 that requires challenges to be heard “within ten business days after serving notice of the challenge.”

In a BRE meeting on July 14, 2022, Woolard said that “the legislation enabling” the challenges "has not been clearly defined nor have regulations been promulgated. Every county that I’ve spoken to that are [sic] having challenges are enduring this and it is a tremendous amount of work on staff and boards to have special called meetings and other things.”

She added that she hoped the General Assembly could work on “streamlin[ing] this process.”

Marshall said during the hearing that Frazier had resubmitted six voter registrations that had previously been approved by the board in March and she had put them in “challenge” status, which meant that those voters “would have to submit an updated voter registration application and vote a provisional ballot” but “none of those voters did, and as of yesterday, I personally placed all six voters in ‘canceled hearing’ status.”

The Fulton County elections department told Just the News on Friday it “follow[s] all current laws and rules which are many. We have laws governing how we process address changes, returned mail, moved out of state, moved out of county, non-participants, etc. The only changes, if any, would be to follow new legislation.”

For voter registration challenges, the county said, “We follow [Georgia code] 21-2-229 and 21-2-230 for challenges by other electors and 21-2-231 for Felons and Deceased.”

The codes govern the process for voter registration challenges and were updated by Senate Bill 202.

The county elections department also said that they remove voters from voter rolls if their registration has inaccurate and/or incomplete information and they haven't corrected it after being notified depending “on what information is missing and whether or not they are removed or can't participate until certain information is provided or corrected.”

The county didn't respond to additional questions regarding “challenge” status and the challenges brought by Frazier.

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