What’s Happening With Fulton County’s Board of Elections?
Fulton County Board of Elections Gets A New Chair: Patrise Perkins-Hooker
Fulton County Board of Elections Chairman Robb Pitts dropped the nomination of Republican former commissioner Lee Morris to chair the Fulton County Board of Elections — a move that would have flipped control of the board from Democrats to Republicans in the Democratic dominated county.
Instead, Pitts nominated Patrise Perkins-Hooker, a former Fulton County attorney and current president of the State Bar of Georgia as the nominee. Perkins-Hooker has decades of experience supervising large teams and has a deep understanding of Georgia’s electoral system and challenges voters face across the state. She is an honors graduate of Georgia Tech and received her graduate degrees from Emory University Law and Business Schools.
County Republicans (who represent the minority of voters in Fulton County) had hoped to seize control of the Fulton County Board of Elections under the 2021 "election takeover" law. Commissioner Bridget Thorne, a Republican, objected to Perkins-Hooker’s nomination.
However, Patrise Perkins-Hooker’s nomination was met with much applause from the local residents who had come to the Board meeting and where present in the audience at the time of the announcement.
“The concern of the community, from what I understand listening to today’s presentation, is that they wanted someone to reflect what was indicative of who was in the majority of the Fulton County voters,” she said.
“I don’t envision this being a tremendous change in how we’re going to operate. I’m not going in there with a Democratic “D” on my chest, I’m going in with a “C” as in chairman and we’re going to work through and make certain what happens is the right thing for people in Fulton County.”
Under Patrise Perkins-Hooker’s leadership, the Fulton County Board of Elections is expected to continue the work improving voting access and decreasing wait-times, which a bipartisan panel just commended it for earlier this year.
Moreover, the panel found no evidence of "fraud, dishonesty or intentional misconduct" in regards to the 2020 presidential election.
The panel was comprised of Gwinnett County elections board member Stephen Day, Catoosa County elections board chairman Ricky Kittle and Ryan Germany, outgoing general counsel for the secretary of state's office.
In July 2021, Republican lawmakers requested a performance review of Fulton County’s five-person bipartisan election board under Georgia’s 2021 "election takeover" law—hoping to find evidence to justify replacing the entire board with politically motivated Republican administrators in the heavily Democratic county.
After a 17 month investigation and thousands of hours spent reviewing all aspects of the county's election process, the bipartisan panel found Fulton County’s Board of Elections to be in good standing and recommended that it not be suspended or replaced.
The panel’s 19-page report to the State Election Board concluded that while there were still areas for improvement, the current Fulton County Board of Elections is actively involved in implementing changes to streamline the election process.
"The Fulton County Board of Elections and Registration is engaged and helping to drive those improvements," the report says. "Replacing the board would not be helpful and would in fact hinder the ongoing improvements to Fulton County elections.”
“The Board of Registration & Elections has operated for the last two years with a singular focus on the best possible experience for Fulton County voters,” the outgoing Fulton elections board chair Cathy Woolard said in a statement. “The Performance Review Board’s report affirms what we already know – our staff work every day to serve Fulton County voters and deliver free and fair elections in compliance with the law.”
The incoming chair, Perkins-Hooker said, “We haven’t been sanctioned, penalized, and vilified by any of the reports...and I do plan on continuing to work with [Georgia's State Board of Elections].”
Fulton County is Georgia’s most populous county and has historically struggled with election issues stemming from a severe lack of funding. In the 2020 primary election, the county suffered from having fewer polling places and election workers, coupled with unprecedented numbers of mail-in absentee ballots.
Since then, Fulton County elections have improved dramatically thanks to increased funding, mobile early voting buses, and a concerted push to encourage voters to cast their ballots before Election Day.