GOP elections board members

Jeff Hughes (left) and Larry Ewing (right) at a recent Jackson County Board of Elections meeting. Hughes and Ewing represent the county's Republican Party and voted against certifying the county's Jan. 5 election results.

The two Republican members on the Jackson County Board of Elections want to turnover 211 names to the Georgia Secreter of State for possible investigation, but were thwarted in the move when they couldn't get a majority vote on the board.

Before the Jan. 5 Senate runoff balloting, former county GOP chairman Ron Johnson gave the elections board a printout of names of Jackson County voters who had filed a change of address through the U.S. Postal System. Johnson got the list from a national voting group that was lobbying to have a large number of voters taken off voting rolls.

The elections board didn't remove any local names, but did agree in January following the runoff to have 1,140 names on Johnson's list who had allegedly requested a change of address cross-referenced with those who voted in the county on Jan. 5.

Of those, the voter registration numbers matched to 211 people, 89 who voted absentee in person, 96 who voted on election day and 26 who voted absentee by mail.

The move doesn't mean that anyone voted illegally in the county, however. Some could have been college students who were away at school, or elderly resident who moved to a nursing home.

State law also allows those who move within a certain time period before an election to vote at their previous polling place if they wish, something that was noted on the report given to the board.

But GOP board member Jeff Hughes pushed to have those 211 names sent to the state for action. He was supported by fellow GOP member Larry Ewing.

The board deadlocked 2-2 on the motion with chairman Eric Crawford absent. That tie killed the motion, but a subsequent motion passed 3-0 to table the issue until the board's March meeting.

After the motion failed, Hughes said he thought information the board was provided that said voters were allowed to legally vote within a certain time period after they moved was an attempt by county elections staff to "justify" what he considers questionable votes.

But county elections assistant director Katie Bryson pushed back on that claim.

"I didn't put that on there not to justify anything," she said. "(It's there) to let you know what we train our poll officials in. When someone comes to the polling place if they are registered at the polling location and they have moved, like their license has a new address on it, but they're found in our poll pad (registration list,) I then say, 'When did you move?'  If they moved after that voter register deadline, I have to let them vote because the law says they can vote...I'm not trying to justify anything one way or the other, it's my job to give you all the information that we train our poll workers on about how to handle voter registration and voting procedures. That's why I put that there."

The question of who voted where in the Jan. 5 runoffs is a moot issue in the state since all ballots in every county were identical. 

Huges has been outspoken on the board about possible voter problems, something that came to the forefront after false claims that the Nov. 3 election was "stolen" from Donald Trump.

Huges voted against certifying both the Nov. 3 election results in Jackson County and against certifying the Jan. 5 runoff results. Republicans won a vast majority of votes in Jackson County in both elections and there have been not allegations of voter problems in the county.

Despite multiple questions he's raised about local election procedures, Hughes has not provided the board of any evidence of wrongdoing or made any specific allegations.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing in the 211 votes that were in the staff's report. 

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(2) comments

Pete Fuller

Important to note the list Johnson gave is riddled with errors. It is a name match, and there are many people with identical names in the state. Personally am much more concerned with the possibility of disenfranchising an eligable voter than tracking down someone that voted in a statewide election where the ballot was identical regardless the county.

Jon Oblesen

I don't think I would have an issue with them sending the names, its roughly .005% of the total votes cast in the November election for the county. But to what end? Is this to subvert the results of the election? Because it will not significantly change the Jackson Co tallies or the Georgia tallies or the U.S. tallies as a whole. So what does this exercise mean to accomplish? This would be my question for Mr. Ewing and Mr. Hughes .

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