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Lawsuit: Fulton County Election Board Wrongfully Withholding Records From GOP Member

Board member Julie Adams alleged Fulton County’s elections director is denying her ‘access to essential election materials and processes.’

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Fulton County’s election board and director are unlawfully withholding election records from a GOP board member, a new lawsuit alleges.

Filed on Tuesday by Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections (BRE) member Julie Adams, a Republican, the suit contends that the board and Elections Director Nadine Williams are preventing Adams from “performing her statutory duties as a BRE member” by denying her “access to essential election materials and processes by which elections in Fulton County are conducted.” Adams was appointed to the position in January and took office the following month.

“Plaintiff swore an oath to ‘prevent fraud, deceit, and abuse’ in Fulton County elections and to ‘make a true and perfect return,'” the lawsuit reads. “These obligations are frustrated by the repeated and continuing refusal to allow Plaintiff access to, and direct knowledge of, the information Plaintiff reasonably believes she needs to execute her duties faithfully and thoroughly.”

Adams has sought access to various “Elections Materials and Processes” relevant to her position on the BRE since taking office. Among these are the county’s qualified voter list and absentee ballot records. The former is a “list of all lawfully registered electors that are eligible to cast a ballot within a voting jurisdiction,” and the latter includes the list “of all electors who requested, received, and/or returned an Absentee Ballot” and all “Absentee Ballot applications and ballot envelopes.”

According to the suit, Georgia’s Authorization Act provides the BRE with the “exclusive power to certify the results of Fulton County elections.” The statute specifies that there “shall be a chief administrative officer of the board who shall be appointed by the governing authority of the county upon the recommendation of the board and shall be designated [the] ‘elections supervisor.'” This individual “shall have such duties and functions in regard to elections as may be prescribed by the board.”

The board attempts to justify denying Adams access to the aforementioned election materials she says she needs to execute her duties because “the Board has purportedly delegated core BRE responsibilities to an appointed Election Director,” the suit explains. Defendants, according to the lawsuit, “have taken the position the BRE delegated the statutorily assigned duties and powers of the Fulton County election superintendent to the Director via adoption of the bylaws,” and therefore, argue that “BRE members are not entitled to access to the Election Materials and Processes necessary for the performance of their duties.”

According to Adams, however, “despite the request of BRE members, neither the counsel nor the BRE’s staff have been able to produce an official version of the Bylaws, in a form or on a date on which the bylaws were passed.”

“As a consequence of this delegation (which, as noted above, is unsupported by any official records of the Bylaws being formally adopted by the BRE), the current and former Chairs of the BRE and the Director have refused to allow Plaintiff access to the Election Materials and Processes,” the suit reads.

Emails included in the lawsuit show that Adams contacted Williams and then-BRE Chair Patrise Perkins-Hooker on March 7, requesting the county’s Election Materials and Processes be provided to her so she could review them before the board certified the results of the upcoming March 12 Presidential Preference Primary. Williams responded to Adams later that day, “noting that most of the documents requested would not be created until after the primary, and that ‘review of these documents is not required for certification,’ and that ‘reconciliation is diligently conducted and completed’ by her office before certification.”

Perkins-Hooker sent a follow-up email that same evening, in which she instructed Williams to “take no action” on Adams’ request “until the board approves making any changes in our existing certification process.” The then-BRE chair further told Adams she would need to seek approval from the entire elections board before accessing the requested records.

Adams ultimately voted against certification of the primary results on March 19, arguing that the board’s decision to deny her access to the sought-after materials prevented her from fulfilling her role in “inspect[ing] systematically and thoroughly the conduct of primaries and elections … to the end that primaries and elections may be honestly, efficiently, and uniformly conducted.”

Subsequent attempts by Adams to obtain the aforementioned records in the weeks that followed were similarly denied by Williams. The Democrat Party of Georgia also issued a letter to the board claiming “certification of election results is a ministerial task … not subject to [board members’] discretion” and suggesting board members could be held criminally liable for not voting to certify.

Adams has asked the Fulton County Superior Court to issue a declaration asserting that BRE members’ duties are “discretionary, not ministerial, in nature,” and that they are authorized to have complete access to the Election Materials and Processes. She also requested that injunctions be issued barring defendants from withholding such materials from board members and mandating their disclosure “during and after” Georgia’s May 21 statewide primaries.

It’s not the first time Fulton County has been accused of misconduct. As my colleague Brianna Lyman previously reported, the BRE was recently chastised by the Georgia State Election Board for violating election law during the 2020 contest.

In a 2-1 decision, the state board ruled “that Fulton County must have an independent election monitor to oversee its elections after it found more than 3,000 ballots were scanned twice during the 2020 presidential recount,” as Lyman summarized. The board, however, declined to send the matter to the Georgia attorney general for further investigation.

Julie Adams Press Release and Lawsuit by The Federalist on Scribd


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