On Thursday, Reuters published an article placing blame with Georgia Republicans over changes in a local county board of elections, which was in reality partially due to legislations passed earlier this year, but mostly due to resignations of members.
In Spalding County, Georgia, Reuters reported that protestors filled a meeting room in October, angered that the new board would not allow early voting on the Sunday before the November 2 municipal election.
"A year ago, Sunday voting had been instrumental in boosting turnout of Black voters," wrote Reuters, noting that "this was an entirely different five-member board than had overseen the last election. The Democratic majority of three Black women was gone. So was the Black elections supervisor."
"Now a faction of three white Republicans controlled the board – thanks to a bill passed by the Republican-led Georgia legislature earlier this year. The Spalding board's new chairman has endorsed former President Donald Trump's false stolen-election claims on social media," they added.
They stated that Spalding was one of six county boards that "Republicans have quietly reorganized in recent months through similar county-specific state legislation."
Restructuring in these counties followed in the wake of Senate Bill 202, the "Election Integrity Act of 2021." This legislation changes mail-in voting and early voting, adds the requirement of an ID to vote, and numerous other changes and additions.
One provision changes the makeup of the board. "In addition to the legislature-appointed chair, the five-member board is made up of one member appointed by the House, one appointed by the Senate and one each picked by the Democratic and Republican state parties," wrote GPB.
"The Georgia restructurings are part of a national Republican effort to expand control over election administration in the wake of Trump's false voter-fraud claims," wrote Reuters, noting that with the 2022 elections coming up, and Georgia's governor race, "the stakes are high in Georgia."
"Democrats say Republicans are trying to expand their control over election administration functions that should be nonpartisan. That could result in suppression of votes, they said, and could give Republicans control over certification of results, along with recounts and audits of contested elections," wrote Reuters.
On Twitter, the co-founder and President of RealClearPolitics, Tom Bevan, debunked Reuters claims that Republicans caused the turnover of board members in Spalding County.
The previous board reportedly consisted of 3 black Democrat women as a majority of the board members, and a black Democratic woman as the election supervisor.
One of those black Democrat board members, Vera McIntosh, was replaced by a Republican. The other two reportedly resigned from their positions in protest of SB 202.
"In the sixth county, Spalding, the parties still choose two members each, but the fifth member is now chosen by local judges. (It used to be decided by a coin flip.) Those judges tend to be politically conservative; they appointed a white Republican to replace a Black Democrat on the election board, giving Republicans a 3-2 majority," wrote Reuters.
"With conservative judges now choosing the county election board's fifth member, the previous fifth member, Vera McIntosh, a Black Democrat, has been ousted. She was replaced by James Newland, who is also vice-chair of the county Republican Party. In September, he voted to end Sunday voting," they added.
"McIntosh, the ousted Democrat, called the changes a 'power grab' by local Republicans who wanted to 'go back and prove the 'Big Lie' was real,' referring to Trump's election-fraud claims," wrote Reuters. She was replaced by Ben Johnson, a former official of the county Republican party.
"They wanted control," she said. "They got control."
Two other women quit from the board, Margaret Bentley and Glenda Henley, citing harassment from Trump supporters in addition to their protests to the legislation.
"Henley said the board's meetings were increasingly attended by Trump supporters crying fraud. She called the tensions 'exhausting' and said: 'I have never been afraid in this town, but I am now,'" wrote Reuters.
The election supervisor, Marcia Ridley, was disqualified from her post after legislations stated that the supervisor must live in the county of which they are supervising, which has "has nothing to do with race," wrote Bevan.
Ridley presided over the 2020 election, in which 18 precincts experienced malfunctioning voting machines under her supervision.
According to Reuters, Ridley denies any mismanagement of that day, saying her staff "worked hard to ensure that no voter got disenfranchised and all were able to vote."
"Republican state representative David Knight from Spalding, who co-sponsored a bill to reconstitute the board, said the changes had nothing to do with race or partisanship. They aimed, he said, 'to restore the integrity of our election board and voter confidence,'" wrote Reuters.