Georgia Republicans are increasingly installing all-white Republican majorities to county election boards by removing Democratic Black members – an apparent bid to derail attempts to expand voting rights in the battleground state.
The development, first reported by Reuters, centers on "six county boards that Republicans have quietly reorganized in recent months through similar county-specific state legislation." County election boards in Georgia establish rules around voter access, which includes polling locations and early-voting options. They are also charged with facilitating post-election procedures, such as recounts and audits. In the past, their compositions have been determined on a largely bipartisan basis.
RELATED: "What voter suppression looks like": Rejected ballot requests up 400% after new Georgia voting law
Back in March, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the state's S.B. 202 – also known as "Election Integrity Act of 2021" – which expanded the state Senate's ability to determine the makeup of "underperforming" county elections boards across the Peach State. One specific way the GOP has done so is by transferring the power to appoint election board members over to local county commissions in counties like Morgan, Troup, Stephens, Pickens and Lincoln – all of which have GOP-led local county commissions.
In Morgan County, the Republican-majority county commission reshaped the Morgan's election board by removing two Black Democrats, Reuters reported. In Troup County, a Black Democratic claimed she was ousted after expressing an intent to expand voter access. In Spalding, the right to reconstitute the county election board was transferred over to local judges (who skew Republican), ending in the ouster of another Black Democrat who was replaced by a white conservative.
Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.
Voting rights advocates have railed against the county election board takeovers as part of the GOP's nationwide push to limit voting rights for minorities, who carried President Biden's win in last year's presidential election.
"We are talking about a normalization of Republican takeovers of local functions," Saira Draper, director of voter protection for the Georgia Democratic Party, told Reuters.
Georgia Republicans have meanwhile rebutted that their cause stands for "election integrity" – an oft-used conservative talking point in the wake of Donald Trump's electoral loss.
RELATED: Stacey Abrams is running for Georgia governor — again
"What we want to make sure is that we have election integrity," Butch Miller, the No. 2 Republican in the Georgia Senate, told Reuters.
According to PEW, between 2016 and 2020, Black voters saw the largest increase in voter registration out of any other racial group in the state, with a 25% hike. When compared to Hillary Clinton's presidential bid in 2016, notes the Associated Press, Biden added hundreds of thousands of voters to Georgia four's largest counties, which are all disproportionately home to Black voters.