Atlanta — Despite the sponsor's claim that the bill is unconstitutional, Georgia's Senate is supporting a plan to allow the state's appointed election board to probe Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's election practices.
Senate Bill 358 passed 30-19 on party lines Friday, sending it to the House for consideration. The Republican majority also voted 31-19 to outlaw ranked-choice voting in Georgia on Friday. That bill goes to the House. Republicans like Raffensperger claim it's illegal for the Senate to grant the State Election Board oversight of an elected person.
There is no precedent for an unelected board of political appointees to have oversight authority over executive branch members,” Raffensperger's general counsel, Charlene McGowan, wrote Tuesday.
Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Sen. Max Burns said Friday that the legislation merely changes Raffensperger and the election board's legal powers, not their constitutional authority.
The majority of powers of the secretary of state are vested through statute and not through constitutional law,” said Sylvania Republican Burns.
Burns requested Republican Attorney General Chris Carr to rule on the measure's legality Friday, saying the courts could resolve issues even if it's legally ambiguous.
The idea would remove Raffensperger from his nonvoting board position three years after lawmakers dismissed him as voting chair. It would also let the board hire election investigators instead of Raffensperger employees and specifically authorize it to probe the secretary of state.
Due to unverified fraud charges, activists have asked the State Election Board to examine Raffensperger's 2020 Fulton County audit. The board split 2-2 in December on whether it had such jurisdiction, and two members requested lawmakers to clarify the statute.
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