Thursday, December 24, 2020

Oconee County Board Of Elections To Meet On Monday To Respond To Challenge Filed Against Eligibility Of County Voters

***Early Voting Takes Break Until After Christmas***

The Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. on Monday to respond to a challenge from Patricia Daughertry, 5041 Price Mill Road, west of Bishop, to the eligibility of more than 100 Oconee County registered voters to participate in the Jan. 5 runoff election.

Daugherty, who is active in Conservative Republican Woman of Northeast Georgia and challenged Sen. Bill Cowsert in the Republican primary in 2016, submitted a list of voters that she said “appear” to have moved out of the county.

Daugherty cites “Available data from the United States Postal Service National Change of Address (NCOA) and other commercially available sources” as evidence that the Oconee County registered voters should not be eligible to vote.

County Attorney Daniel Haygood will meet with the five-member Board of Elections and Registration on Monday to determine how to respond to Daugherty’s challenge, filed via email with the county on Friday afternoon.

Early voting is underway for the Jan. 5 runoff election involving two U.S. Senate seats and one Public Service Commissioner, and, as of the end of the day on Wednesday, 9,538 Oconee County voters had cast a ballot in-person.

Another 3,417 voters had returned an absentee ballot, meaning that the total number of voters who have cast a ballot to date is 12,955. The county has 31,985 registered voters, so turnout to date is 40.5 percent of those registered.

Four more days of early voting remain: Dec. 28 to 31. Voting is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. those days at the Civic Center, 2661 Hog Mountain Road, west of Butler’s Crossing.

Listed Voters

Daugherty submitted a list that she said contained “elector voter registration numbers, registered addresses, and address changes” via as an attachment as “CSV and XML spreadsheets.”

Daugherty 4/14/16

Haygood said on Wednesday afternoon that the county is not releasing the list at present “and will evaluate releasing those on Monday. It is a list of a couple of hundred or so.”

“We don’t know her ‘other commercially available’ sources nor has she hand delivered anything to us,” Haygood said.

In Daugherty’s email on Friday she wrote that “hard copies of individual challenges are being delivered to your office under separate cover.”

Fran Leathers, director of Elections and Registration for Oconee County and chair of the Board of Elections and Registration, said on Wednesday afternoon that she had finalized plans for the Monday meeting, which will take place at the Elections and Registration Office, 10 Court Street, opposite the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Other members of the Board are Jay Hanley, Ken Davis, Douglas Hammond and Kirk Shook. Davis is the Democratic Party representative and Shook is the Republican Party representative. Leathers is a county employee, and Hanley and Hammond were appointed by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

Daugherty’s Claim

Daugherty’s challenge parallels those made in other counties throughout the state, including in Clarke County.

“Please accept this letter as a challenge to the attached electors’ eligibility to vote in the January 5, 2021 Election, pursuant to Georgia Code § 21-2-230,” the email reads.

“Available data from the United States Postal Service National Change of Address (NCOA) and other commercially available sources demonstrates probable cause to believe these individuals no longer reside where they are registered to vote,” Daugherty writes.

“In fact, these electors appear to have permanently established other residence, as reflected in their change of address, to residential addresses outside of the Georgia county in which they are currently registered to vote,” she claims.

I sent Daugherty an email early evening on Tuesday asking her for details of her challenge, but I have not hear back from her.

I also sent an email to Steven Strickland, chair of the Oconee County Republican Committee, about the same time asking if the party was involved in the challenge.

“At our level (county), we’ve been focused on the tactical such as poll watching, audit/recount and review panels with the Board of Elections,” Strickland said in an email on Wednesday afternoon.

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