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Dekalb County Board of Elections Meeting 12/22/20

1. Approve Agenda: Vu moved, unclear second, but approved unanimously.

2.  Public Comment: Chair reads statement re emailing public comments to [email protected]  between 1-1:30PM on 12/22/20.

3. Executive Session for litigation purposes: Motion by Smith, second by Vu, Board enters 1:08PM.  Returns 1:33PM, but without sound until 1:34.

4. Voter Challenges: Chair allows motion by Vu to review all challenges, who also includes request for opinion from counsel.  Ms. Ernstes suggests Chair entertain staff recommendation; Ms Vander Els discusses the three challenges below, based upon probable cause (not defined in OCGA 21-2-230 but commonly defined in other code sections. She suggests the challenges are untimely because they go to residency but not to registration, and the challenges are under the NCOA; secondly, because the challenge must be made prior to absentee votes being cast, and early voting/absentee voting began last week.  Voters may use change of address as a temporary measure, and still valid GA voters and thus qualified to vote.  Additionally, a DeKalb voter may still vote in DeKalb for 30 days after moving.  Finally the evidence presented is “not competent” being Excel spreadsheets but no affidavits from USPS or any licensees.  McCarthy did present an affidavit but no link to a DeKalb voter.

Ms Ernstes asks to be allowed to serve as clerk and read them into the record, without identifying by email address, but will use names if available, reading in the order she received them. First from Susannah Scott (!!!), comments as President of LWV, urging the BRE to dismiss the challenges to voters; Susannah’s repeated urging to read public comments into the record was also read by Ms. Ernstes.  Next from Jonathan Grant, stating public notice for today’s meeting does not meet Open Records requirements, and that no challenges should be accepted so close to Jan 5 runoff.  He takes issue with early voting details made public by BRE. L Throop takes issue with challenge based upon allowable temporary forwarding; mentions that True the Vote engages in voter caging and has been sued for it, citing federal cases going back to 1982.  Next comment from Janet Grant saying she is outraged at the challenges by the below people, and that Rep Bee Nguyen’s research has proven how transparent the efforts for voter suppression. Marci McCarthy: asserts that her challenges are valid despite minimal information provided by BRE staff; 21-2-226(a) says the challenger does not have to prove the voters challenged are valid, only that her challenge is based upon probable cause, rather the SOS and BRE must prove.  Says “federal law permits use of NCOA info to remove names of ineligible voters”, as does state law.  Says GA performs same review at beginning of each odd-numbered year, and the large number of new voters allows for it to be done now.  Says she is not alleging any voter is ineligible, nor demanding they be removed or prevented from voting, only that BRE validate.

Ms Ernstes asks if board members received any additional, to forward and she will read them into the record. Chair asks for any other discussion; Lewis asks if each challenge can be taken separately, though counsel suggested taking them as a whole.  Ernstes says they can be taken individually. Vu amends to allow the challenges to be taken individually.  Vu then moves to reject item A (Davis challenge), Smith seconds. Ernstes then asks to read the three additional public comments: Karen Mixon: challenge is without merit, unsubstantiated & untimely, just another attempt at voter caging, and should be rejected. J. Max Davis writes challenges are legitimate and more than enough evidence to be substantiated.  Alexandra Sawicki writes that she is outraged over challenges to individual voters and writes to encourage BRE reject them, as Athens-Clarke Co, Cobb, and Gwinnett.  The challenge comes from a TX-based org and is only framed as such because voters cannot be removed from the rolls within 60 days of an election, is a tactic used against people of color.

Motter, Smith, Vu, Lewis & Chair vote to reject Davis voter challenges. Vu remarks that he sees “not much difference between Davis & McCarthy challenges” and moves to accept counsel’s advice & reject it, with Smith second.  Lewis asks is Ms. Vander Els is still present, and if it came with an affidavit; she affirms, but says neither affiant nor attachments had any DeKalb connection.  To reject: Motter, Vu, Smith & Chair vote to reject McCarthy challenge; Lewis votes nay. Vu then moves to accept counsel’s advice to reject Hartman challenge, Smith seconds.  To reject: Motter, Vu, Smith, Lewis, & Chair all vote aye.

A)  J. Max Davis: 15,391 voters challenged 

B) Marci McCarthy: 4,112 voters challenged 

C) Douglas Hartman: 31,346 voters challenged 

5. Comments from the Board: no comments from Lewis.  Smith requests Director follow up on reports re acknowledgement of absentee ballots (that it is taking lengthy times, and what her goal is for acknowledgement), and that temp employees have not been paid.  Motter has no comments. Vu wishes all a safe and happy Christmas; Chair seconds them, then accepts Smith’s motion to adjourn, unanimously accepted.

Did you know that the public can attend Board of Registration and Elections meetings? 

These meetings are open to the public by Georgia law. Georgia Open Meetings Act.

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