What’s Happening With Ware County’s Board of Elections?
Shawn Taylor, a Black woman appointed by Democrats to the Ware County Board of Elections in South Georgia has been removed from her seat under a new state law. The law gives the Republican-dominated Ware county commission the final say on who is on the Board of Elections, which essentially functions as an absolute veto for any appointed Democrat.
Ware County is about 70% Republican and 30% Democrat—making representation of both parties important for any election. Until this year, Republicans and Democrats each picked two people for the Ware County Election Board. Because the board’s four appointed members vote on a fifth member to serve as chair, Ware County’s once evenly bipartisan board will now be controlled by Republicans.
“I was the person they were going to take off the board because I was the person who fought against voter suppression, the consolidation of precincts, things that affect, I’ll just be honest, the Black community in Waycross,” Taylor says.
Taylor was given no notice that the commissioners were voting to remove her from the election board at the May 8 county commission meeting. Taylor’s replacement is Michael Hargrove, an avid supporter of Donald Trump and GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
“I believe that this whole thing is another way of the GOP taking control of the elections so they can turn Georgia red again,” Taylor said.
In 2021, Republican lawmakers passed Georgia’s "election takeover" law—which allows the Republican controlled state to remove members of election boards across the state at their whim and replace them with politically motivated Republican administrators.
In Fulton County, their efforts were particularly blatant. State Republicans ordered a performance review of the county’s five-person bipartisan election board—hoping to find evidence to justify ousting the entire board.
However, 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. And state Republicans were forced to back down.