Question: How can someone win an election by a 172-148 margin and be denied the office they won?
Answer: You must be a Georgia Republican
In our 9th Installment in our Georgia Election Integrity Series we explained in unprecedented detail how the Fulton County Republican establishment attempted to oust their newly elected grassroots chair by trashing principles of election integrity. Now the State Committee on Appeals of the Georgia Republican Party has become a willing accomplice and the State Committee of the Grand Olde Party (GOP) has failed by a razor thin margin to mitigate this injustice. Here is the inside story:
THE ORIGINAL FULTON GOP CHAIR VOTE
On April 17th, the Fulton County GOP held its convention at the Metropolitan Club in Alpharetta where the vote for chair took place. The election for chairman was conducted using little colored chips similar to “tiddlywinks” with incumbent Trey Kelly assigned blue and challenger Susan Opraseuth yellow. The chips were collected from delegate cups that were not verified as empty before the count began and the cups were not visible at all times as the collectors brought chips to the counting area.
On the first vote, Convention Chairman Rusty Paul declared Trey Kelly as a 167-164 winner but the 331 votes cast were more than the 330 delegates in attendance and three more than the 328 voters who were eligible once two attendees were disqualified for briefly leaving the convention. Furthermore, counters had improperly awarded Kelly two lime green chips that looked more yellow than blue and those two votes should not have counted at all.
A motion to overrule the chair and vote again passed according to county, state and Roberts Rules of Order that were in force. On the second vote, each delegate showed their armband to qualify when voting and they put their colored token into a large glass vase that was visible throughout the room. Opraseuth won the second vote by 172-148, a 24-vote margin, but after hearing the results, Kelly stated that he would object.
Kelly then appealed to the 5th District Executive Committee claiming a controversy gave them the right to overturn the only legitimate vote taken for the chair. Although the convention followed county, state and Roberts Rules of order, the committee upheld the appeal and overturned the will of the majority of convention delegates.
Opraseuth then appealed to the state party and State Chairman David Shafer routed the matter to a five-person appeals committee. Although Shafer named Opraseuth interim chair, Kelly refused to step down, retained exclusive control of the web site, did not share the delegate list with Opraseuth and sent an Email from the Fulton County GOP indicating he had been re-elected chairman.
THE CORRUPTED STATE APPEALS REPORT
The State Committee on Appeals only served to make matters worse by overriding Shafer, vacating the Fulton chair position, producing a corrupted report and making a feckless recommendation to the Republican State Committee. The report cleverly distorted various aspects of the convention in a biased manner and then lamely recommended a new election.
The procedural history of the report withholds key critical facts. For example:
- It never states that Opraseuth won the second vote by a 172-148 margin!
- It never states that the two illegal lime green chips were counted for Kelly;
- It never states the lack of verifiability and transparency with the first vote;
Key findings of the report are either false or distorted because of procedural history that was withheld. Sample misstatements include:
- “…it is a safe assumption that many delegates chose to leave the Convention, believing they had
concluded their duty with regard to voting for Chairman.” It is irrelevant that 10 delegates left
- “In fact, the second election had at least 10 fewer votes than the first election” This is irrelevant since Opraseuth had a 24-vote victory margin not mentioned in the report
- “There was again the use of the multicolored chips in lieu of actual ballots which added to the confusion” No confusion was defined in the second election process
The report then makes bogus recommendations based on its selectively reported procedural history and distorted findings. For example:
- The findings blame the chips for the controversy and propose to ban them to avoid future problems. The report cleverly conceals the facts that the second election using the chips was verifiable, auditable and transparent
- The recommendations further contend that the provision allowing a rule to be suspended by the majority vote of a convention, committee or Mass Meeting should be eliminated! This un-American recommendation defeats the will of the majority and allows establishment corruption to thrive
The committee that produced this report is chaired by John White, a former Coca Cola executive. Committee member Travis Bowden had already participated in the 5th District appeal and should have been recused from serving again in the same matter. Other members who signed onto the report are Josh McKoon, Binford Minter and Shawn Still. As we explain above, the report by the State Committee on Appeals is cleverly written to deceive the reader by concealing key facts, producing false or irrelevant findings and diverting focus to superficial, inappropriate recommendations.
STATE COMMITTEE VOTE
After considering the distorted findings of this corrupted State Committee on Appeals report and hearing arguments from both sides, the full Georgia Republican State Committee declined by a 3-vote margin in over 100 votes cast to grant Opraseuth the victory she already won. Instead, they voted to conduct a new unverifiable, electronic vote election to resolve the Fulton chair conflict!
The new vote is set to take place on Saturday, June 19th using software named Election Runner but Opraseuth has declined to participate since she has not had access to a validated delegate list while Kelly likely has had one ever since the April 17th convention. Instead, Opraseuth has insisted that the state party deal with the issue more effectively than they did last week. Will the state party risk alienating their newly energized supporters and risk the state going blue to protect an establishment player like Trey Kelly who was not legitimately elected?
It seems that the Georgia Republican Party has learned nothing in the last 20 years regarding Georgia elections that are not verifiable, auditable, recount capable or transparent. Worse yet, if the State Committee on Appeals recommendations were actually implemented, the Georgia Republican Party would be more corrupt than it is today.