Gwinnett County Board of Elections Meeting 01/19/21

*Agenda: 

  1. Call to Order
  2. Approval of Agenda
  3. Opening Remarks
  4. Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes 
  5. Reports and Updates
  6. Old Business
  7. New Business
  8. Public Comments
  9. Closing Remarks
  10. Adjourn

Stephen Day: Wants to add item to agenda for consideration – under new business, add statement from Democratic members in response to comments made by the election board chair (Wandy Taylor and John Mangano seconds) has motion to approve 

Opening Remarks

  • Recently the U.S. Gwinnett Democrat State Reps have sent a letter calling for Alice O’Lenick’s resignation 
    • Has two issues, says Alice O’Lenick claims dead people are voting 
  • Alice O’Lenick: has issues with mail-in absentee ballots; a “metal box on the street is not the most secure system” 
    • Believes U.S. Postal Service is “iffy at best”; there will always be absentee ballots by mail but the board must provide a way that Gwinnett County residents have confidence that their votes will be received and secure  
    • “Addressing absentee ballots is not voter suppression, it is vote security”
    • Should encourage voting in person during early voting or on election day 
    • Alice has voted for and implemented more hours and days of early voting and two Saturdays and two Sundays in the past election; need more locations and hours for early 

voting 

Approval of Previous Minutes

  • Wandy Taylor — moves that the board approves all the previous meetings from December 3, to January 11 (everyone approves) 
  • No committee reports 

Election Supervisor Updates

  • Kristi Royston: Voting registration numbers for January 1 – 592,432 active voters — increase of 2,345 from the December 1st numbers of 589,997
    • Highest number of temporary employees was 210 employees, biggest cut of employees was on Friday (now 30 temps) 
    • Challenged voters – 288 challenges received prior to the general election runoff (have to be heard individually)
    • At time of the meeting, the board voted to have a hearing in February 
    • Suggests that they should mail letters to every voter that is being challenged notifying them of the hearing date and information 
  • Melanie Wilson: The challengers have the burden of proving that the voters are not qualified for staying on the list (using illegitimate addresses, etc.), 288 individual hearings regardless of if the voters attend the hearings 
    • Presents some challenges with people calling in, not going to be possible having all challenges heard at one time with COVID-19 restrictions
  • Stephen Day: “Is there any way for us to look at the evidence that is provided and determine whether or not the hearings should occur?” preliminary analysis to eliminate/reduce the number of challenges and hearings
    • Melanie: Statute does not allow for any analyses — there are mandatory provisions and the challenges must occur 
  • Wandy Taylor: Suggests that they spread out the hearings over a long period of time at 20-30 hearings at a time
  • Alice O’Lenick: Suggests pushing the hearings until March (originally scheduled for February 15) and having in-person hearings; approves creating a committee to schedule the hearings specifically (work on breaking up 288 hearings into groups of people)

County Updates

  • Lynn Ledford: two general budgets 
    • Administrative budget: -4.2% (spent more than budget)  
    • Election side budget: 27.56% remaining from 2020 budget 
    • Grant information – fully extended the Schwarzenegger grant, CCTL grant ($2.2 million going into elections and administration), and grant from Secretary of State
    • 2021 budget: poll worker pay from January election, regular pay + hazard pay
  • Melanie Wilson: litigation updates moved to executive session 

Old Business 

  • Alice O’Lenick: In order to broadcast meetings, the board must hold meetings on Wednesday evenings (third Wednesday of the month); needs to be an amendment to the bylaws to change the meeting day — Approved 
    • Previously, the Democrat appointed members of the board did not support George to continue as the board’s at-large member
    • Republican party did not accept the name of the Democrat’s suggestion of the at-large member (5th member appointment) – goes to Judge Hutchinson if there is not a unanimous decision 
    • Judge Hutchinson asks for a letter from the board granting him the appointment (Approved; letter goes to the judge)

New Business

  • Feedback from area managers and poll managers regarding the last election cycle to the board 
    • Alice O’Lenick: feedback session will be held with one Republican and one Democrat (3 board members constitute a meeting) 
    • Kristi Royston: In the past, the board has done surveys through email about training, materials, election day activities; built upon that and done focus groups with area managers, election day managers, and advanced voting managers 
      • Previously surveyed 26 area managers (each has 6 precincts that they are responsible for)
    • Everyone is in favor of creating focus groups to receive feedback from area managers (covers election day)

Democrat Comments: drafted by Stephen Day and Wandy Taylor

  • Wandy Taylor: The Chairwoman was quoted extensively in the Gwinnett Daily Post in which she advocates for major election changes at the state and local levels (rollbacks, banning all ballot dropboxes, updating the voter registration rolls) (shared at a GOP meeting in which she also stated 2020 was a “terrible election cycle”)
  • The most egregious statement made was in reference to Georgia election laws and the state legislation in which she said “they don’t have to change all of them but they have to change some of them so we have a shot at winning” 
  • Eliminating no excuse absentee ballots are an attempt to make elections more difficult for Democrats to win and to suppress voters of color from participating in the democratic process 
  • Georgia has had a shameful and racist history of voter suppression of African American voters (going back to poll taxes and physical intimidation) 
  • Because of COVID-19, a significant amount of African AMericans chose to vote by mail and the Republican Secretary of State sent absentee ballots to every Georgia voter during the primary season 
    • Absentee ballots existed without excuse since 2005, all voters had equal access 
    • Absolutely no voter fraud on any significant scale as shown by numerous investigations by the Secretary of State and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation – myths of voter fraud are myths, falsehoods, and conspiracies 
  • Alice O’Lenick does not state the majority of the opinions of the Gwinnett County of Elections Board, she is only speaking on behalf of a Republican activist 

Public Comments

  • Arthur Trip: district director for Carolyn Bourdeaux, asked to read direct statement on her behalf
    • Dismayed to learn that the Chairwoman asks to restrict voter rights and demands consequences for her actions (resignation) 
    • The fight to ensure that every vote is heard is personal to Carolyn as she had lost by fewer than 500 votes in her previous congressional election year and ⅓ of the ballots had been thrown out for trivial reasons in Gwinnett, Forsyth, and more
    • “We do not decide election policy based on which political party benefits most” 
  • Bethany: very proud of Gwinnett County and the great election cycle
    • Very disappointed to read the words of the chairwoman (encourages O’Lenick to resign)
  • Blake Judgekins: wanted to address that at the beginning, Chairwoman O’Lenick had not said that dead people had voted
    • There is no evidence that dead people have voted and casting doubt on an election based on nothing is absolutely shameful (undemocratic, unrepublican)
    • Her comments were said after a mob of angry terrorists stormed the Capitol Building and plan to hold riots on January 20th
  • Bruce Greenfield: present at meeting where Alice O’Lenick discussed elections in Gwinnett and Georgia
    • It is his impression that Alice has never wanted to suppress any votes, she wants votes to be legally counted, legally cast
    • He does not believe that Alice’s resignation would serve the board at all and she is an excellent resource and will continue to ensure that Georgia will have honest elections in the future
  • Warren Ald: citizen of Gwinnett County
    • The several statements in the Gwinnett Daily Post that have been made are misleading and inflammatory, he heard the statements by Alice O’Lenick at the meeting and she merely advocated for more ballot security 
    • There is credible evidence of election fraud — there are problems with the voting system and to honor all citizens of the state and county, he supports what Alice had to say and he supports her very much 
  • Catherine Hunter Greene and Kathy: Fully support Alice O’Lenick, she is a tireless worker and was misquoted in the Gwinnett article 
    • She has always advocated for each vote to count and she is merely advocating for fair elections and that people that vote are people that live in Gwinnett county, are alive, and have the legal status to vote
  • Kurt Thompson: if the chairwoman thinks her role is to tilt the playing field in favor of the Republicans, she does not understand the roles of chairwoman and does not belong in that role
    • Continuing to feed claims of election fraud is inappropriate for Chairwoman Alice O’Lenick of the Board of Elections 

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.

Become a Peanut Gallery Volunteer Monitor at our next training on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 6 pm. Sign up Here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s