County: Forsyth County
Date of meeting: May 12, 2022
General read of the room: At the beginning before the meeting around 5:40 PM, the room was empty with four people present and a Sheriff present. Once the meeting started, the room was half-filled and had majority-white people and three local reporters. My husband and I were the only black attendees of the meeting. The mic was low throughout the meeting.
Announced Start time of meeting: 6 PM
Actual start time of the meeting: 6:01 PM
Link to online agenda: Forsyth Special Meeting Agenda
Board members present: Joel Natt, Carla Radzikinas, Barbara Luth, Dan Thalimer, Anita Tucker
Major Point of Concern: Forsyth County local Frank Schneider is challenging 13,609 people’s ability to cast a ballot in Forsyth County as early voting is underway. Under Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021, any voter can challenge the eligibility of voters in their city or county. Schneider’s challenges are listed in the agenda under New Business.
Public comments – Public comments were allowed during the Old Business section of the meeting under 4A. Discussion and Adoption of Policy and Guidelines for the submission of Elector Challenges Filed Under O.C.G.A. Section 21-2-229 or O.C.G.A. Section 21-2-230. Joel Natt requested there be one minute to allow more people to sign up for Public Comment, yet Barbara Luth stated that some Public Comments have already been filtered out due to “not being about what’s on the agenda.” Luth then went on to read the rules of Forsyth County’s BOE Public Comments stating that there will be 10 minutes of Public Comment with two minutes per speaker and 10 speakers allowed in total. The board and audience laughed due to the math of that not adding up. Four Public Comments that had been submitted were accepted to be read due to the filtering of Public Comments.
Tammy Quick was the first speaker: Stated that she believes that removing voters from the role is wrong just because you’re questioning their address during elections. She said there are numerous examples of locals being in fear that they are being challenged due to this Challenge. Luth asked to address the speaker and said the policy says the challenger must provide probable evidence. She also says that each voter challenged is made aware of being challenged and that no one should be challenged just because they move residences within Forsyth.
Liz Barott was the second speaker: Stated that she’s a Forsyth local and says that she’s looking at this as a taxpayer. Her concern is where do the funds for the investigation of 13,000 voters come from? She believes the Challenger should do the investigation independently rather than bringing the Board into it and then present with evidence as well as use their own funds. Natt asked does this mean the Challenger has to have multiple sources to challenge voters. Luth then corrected Natt and said I believe the speaker is talking about using older voter lists that may not be accurate.
JJ Georgison was the third speaker yet said he wished to no longer speak.
Frank Schneider was the fourth speaker: Questioned the Board and asked am I to understand that PDF documents are not allowed to be submitted as supporting documentation. Natt stated that the Board cannot accept hard drives, and thumb drives but the Challenge can be submitted through electronic formats. Schneider also said this research is taking a toll on his team because they must change the format of evidence to PDFs every time. The policy currently states they must be submitted via hard copy. Natt requested that Challenges can be accepted only via PDF. Dan Thalimer stated that this would be unfair to those who submit via Word. The Board, with the assistance of attorneys, asked if the board could amend that the Challenger must be submitted in person or hard copy to email, and digital submissions are accepted as well.
Items of discussion –
- OLD BUSINESS
- The board looked over O.C.G.A. 21-2-229 and O.C.G.A 21-2-230. Board requested Open Records to help assist with voter challenges and still hasn’t received records. Anita Tucker says there’s nothing in procedures that allows us to notify voters who are being challenged in O.C.G.A. 21-2-230. Natt also questioned the timing under O.C.G.A. 21-2-230, because the board only meets on the first Tuesday of every month. He asked if the policy could be amended to change the challenges to be said a month prior to the Board meeting so that they can have the flexibility to go over the consideration of accepting challenges. The Board voted unanimously to amend the policy. Joel furthermore asked if we could amend and add to the policy that the Board will publish to the website every time an O.C.G.A. 21-2-229 situation pops up. He stated that he also believes it will be beneficial to announce how many days someone must file a Challenge and used an example of 90 days.
- The board went on to the discuss Challenges to the Qualifications of Voters and their Eligibility to Vote in the May 24, 2022, General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 21-2-230(a)-4-28-2022 Schneider Challenge postponed from the May 5, 2022, Special Called Meeting. The Board asked Schneider to come forward and answer a few questions. Natt asked if 380 people listed on the Challenge were because they sold their house in the evidence submitted? Schneider said yes. He said all 380 people showed up as a National Change of Address. Natt said he looked over the evidence and said that if someone sells their house, that is probable cause to believe that they should be removed. Luth said what about a local that has gone off to college or moved in to take care of a loved one temporarily. Tucker said after she looked over the evidence submitted; it did not match. She stated there were inconsistencies with a few voters because they in fact never sold their homes. She explained the NCOA website and VoterRecord.com that he used and let everyone know that all information may not be accurate. Natt said we shouldn’t handicap this policy and that the 380 people should be removed. He also said that none of the people listed haven’t even voted yet so how do we know they are real. Luth stated that notifying the locals challenged takes time and that’s why they may not have voted yet or spoken up. Dan Thalimer said he doesn’t see sufficient evidence from the Challenger and doesn’t feel comfortable moving forward. Carla Radzikinas stated that initially, the Challenger should have submitted a hard copy document before this meeting, and with Frank sending the evidence via PDF, this should not go through.
- Luth asked if we should challenge the 380 and Natt said yes while Radzikinas, Luth, Thalimer, and Tucker said no. This decision was met with a few attendees getting up and voicing their disappointment. The board also voted to dismiss 141 leaving only 10 individuals to be investigated by the Board.
- NEW BUSINESS
- The board discussed duplications of evidence submitted and Anita asked if the rest of the 12,880 could be dismissed. She said that it’s also 12 days away from an Election. Schneider said he submitted the Challenge on April 1, 2022. The Board voted to unanimously dismiss the Challenge fully. Natt said that he hopes that this will empower the Challenger to do further research and make sure the list is accurate.
- The board also voted not to have a June Board of Elections Special meeting and move the meeting to July. They will have their regular Board of Elections meeting.
- Natt said the voter turnout in Forsyth has doubled this year so far which speaks volumes to the Board Director.
- Thalimer will be taking a break from the 23rd to the 27th.
- Extended Voting will be open to 7 PM and Forsyth has Saturday and Sunday voting this weekend May 14 and May 15.
No Comments were made by the Director or Clerk.
Attorney comments – Three attorneys were present (Mandy, Carolyn, and Gerard) and seated behind the Clerk. They didn’t speak.
Public education/Communications initiatives:
- Extended Voting will be open to 7 PM and Forsyth has Saturday and Sunday voting this weekend May 14 to May 15.
- The board also voted not to have a June Board of Elections Special meeting and move the meeting to July. They will have their regular Board of Elections meeting during June.
- Voter turnout in Forsyth has doubled since the last Primaries.
Executive session: The board went into Executive Session three minutes into the meeting starting to discuss Pending Litigation but did not disclose anything further. They did not say what for. They brought the meeting back to order at 6:28 PM.
Announced end time of meeting: 8:15 PM
*These Meeting notes were typed and prepared by a volunteer
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