Activists and legislators are calling for Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections Chair Alice O’Lenick to resign for supporting election law changes. O’Lenick wanted to limit no-excuse absentee voting to the elderly and infirm, ban absentee ballot drop boxes, and expand early voting to last 21 days and be open on the weekends.
O’Lenick’s proposals incited negative responses from a variety of civil rights and activist groups, as well as a coalition of Democratic state legislators. Amongst the groups were The Lincoln Project, Fair Fight Action, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, Georgia American Federation of Labor and Congress of Individual Organizations (AFL-CIO), Georgia Equality, and Voto Latino.
Critics took issue with one of her remarks in particular. The chairwoman explained that her rationale for advocating change was to improve the changes of Republican candidates obtaining wins in future elections.
“They don’t have to change all of them, but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning,” stated O’Lenick.
“O’Lenick isn’t even trying to hide her bias against Democratic voters and voters of color in Gwinnett County. She had made clear that her only motivation is pure partisanship, engaging openly in rhetoric that is more suited for a political party hack than an elections official,” claimed Fair Fight Action. “County election board members and chairs should celebrate high vote turnout, regardless of outcome, not advocate laws that will benefit one party over the other. It also should be noted that O’Lenick has a history of racist statements on social media.”
In response to petitioners calling for her resignation, O’Lenick stated that her position came from wanting to better secure free and fair elections – not suppress voters.
“I’m actually trying to increase the amount of people able to vote,” stated O’Lenick. “We have to do it in a secure way that’s equitable for everyone.”
During a board meeting on Tuesday night, O’Lenick further defended her remarks. She stated that she advocates for increased voting hours and locations – but maintained that absentee-by-mail voting restrictions would improve vote security. Public comment on O’Lenick’s remarks during the meeting were mixed.
The other Republican board member, George Awuku, stated that O’Lenick’s remarks weren’t grounds for her resignation.
The Georgia Star News reached out to O’Lenick regarding her remarks. She didn’t respond by press time.
Gwinnett Board of Registration and Elections holds its meetings on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. EST. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for February 16.
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