Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) will select a committee to address election integrity, but a fellow legislator questioned his motives.
During a press conference on Thursday, Ralston revealed that the General Assembly would address election law reforms as early as next week. He noted that he would appoint a special committee to undertake election integrity reforms and investigations to ensure confidence in future elections.
“[The] committee will have two primary charges,” stated Ralston. “First, to keep our elections open and accessible to all registered voters. And second, to ensure proper oversight and security of our elections process.”
In an interview with The Georgia Star News, State Representative Jeff Jones (R-St. Simons Island) asserted that Ralston is unfit to lead the charge on election integrity.
“It’s almost laughable for Speaker Ralston to suggest that he put together an election integrity committee,” stated Jones. “I say that because the Speaker has involved himself in Republican challenger versus Republican incumbent races around the state, where he [involves himself because he] disagrees with the incumbent’s positions on things. In my case, where I objected to how the Speaker runs the House. He egregiously abused the legislative leave law. It’s kind of the pot calling the kettle black for Speaker Ralston to speak on [election integrity].”
In response to Ralston’s oversight on selecting members of the committee, Jones expressed a lack of confidence in their ability to conduct independent decision-making.
“The people he selects are going to be those he will be able to control and direct,” stated Jones. “And he will deny that all day long. This is going to be a very political process that he’s going to control.”
During Thursday’s press conference, several reporters inquired about election legislation such as bringing an end to jungle primaries in Georgia. Jones stated outright that he supports abolishment of those types of primaries. He stated that he would encourage the new committee members to focus on that issue. However, Ralston expressed uncertainty as to whether he would consider changes to the 50 plus 1 rule.
“I have asked some of the members that I anticipate will be on the election integrity committee that I want that to be a key component of any legislation they bring forward,” stated Ralston.
Jones pointed out that Ralston’s personal imposition on the committee’s focus and work would subvert the interests of their constituents.
“One of the things I’ve rejected to – in terms of the way that Speaker Ralston runs the House of Representatives – is that he interjects his own personal legislative agenda in people’s business. [It’s] to the degree [that] if he doesn’t like and support something, he is going to kill it,” stated Jones. “Fundamentally, that is wrong. For a speaker to not allow a bill to be [properly] presented or either be voted up or down by the subcommittee or committee members is fundamentally wrong.”
Although a small coalition of state representatives requested a special session repeatedly to address election integrity, laws, and reported irregularities, Ralston refused to call one. Another fellow legislator, State Representative David Clark (R-Buford) alleged that Ralston lied to President Donald Trump about planning to convene such a session.
During a December hearing on election integrity by the Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee, Ralston expressed his dismay at the Secretary of State’s unwillingness to work with the legislators.
“I don’t ever remember, in my time serving in this General Assembly, a constitutional officer refusing to come before a House or Senate committee to offer up information that might be helpful to the people’s representatives,” remarked Ralston.
It was at that hearing that Ralston proposed that the legislature adopt a constitutional amendment changing the selection method for the Secretary of State from a public election to a legislative appointment. He cited three other states that use this selection method: Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Maine.
Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs criticized Ralston for his proposal, describing it as a “power grab.”
The Star News reached out to Ralston to inquire whether the committee would address the consent decree signed by Raffensperger in March, or the affidavits alleging voting irregularities within the general election. His spokespersons didn’t respond by press time.
Georgia’s General Assembly is expected to convene on Monday.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “David Ralston” by Werner4799. CC BY-SA 4.0.