Hakeem Calls For Probe Of Hamilton County Election Office; Hargett Said He Has Confidence In The Office

Thursday, September 24, 2020

State Rep. Yusuf Hakeem said he was asking for a state investigation of the Hamilton County Election Commission.

In a letter to Secretary of State Tre Hargett, he said he has great "anguish and concern" that the county election office is "becoming a petri dish for undermining the fundamental right to free and fair elections."

Secretary of State Hargett responded, "I will be providing a letter to Rep. Hakeem, however, I think it is important to reiterate my confidence in all members of the Hamilton County Election Commission and their ability to oversee the upcoming elections.  As most citizens know, each county makes every possible attempt to attract election officials from both parties, and based on information we received from the Hamilton County Election Commission it appears those numbers are very close.

"However, I am sure the Hamilton County Election Commission would appreciate Rep. Hakeem’s support in recruiting Election Day poll officials.  Additionally, we believe the Hamilton County Election Commission is properly funded and continues to receive the necessary support from the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. 

"With early voting starting in less than three weeks, I am once again stating my confidence in the staff of the Hamilton County Election Commission as well as the members of the Commission.  They are focused on ensuring their fellow Hamilton Countians can safely cast their vote with confidence and that it will be counted accurately and with integrity.”

The election office has been in the news after administrator Kerry Steelman took a leave of absence just prior to the major presidential election.

Officials said there are 37 Republican and 33 Democrat officers of election, as well as two non-partisan. Fifty percent of pollworkers are GOP and 44 percent Democratic. Six percent are non-partisan.

 Rep. Hakeem said he had gotten a "laundry list of concerns" from voters that lead him to believe the office is "engaging in practices causing voter suppression in the county."

He cited alleged discriminatory hiring practices by the office for both full-time and part-time posts, and he said there is a "lack of diversity with regard to both race and political party affiliation" as well as inadequate funding of the office.

Rep. Hakeem said the Secretary of State's Office should seek help from the NAACP and the ACLU to "provide insight and assistance in order to add further credibility to the results."

He said, "I am requesting that with all deliberate speed that you move to ensure free and fair elections in Hamilton County now instead of a report after the elections that talks about the changes needed. The changes need to be done in the present to have an election that we can trust and verify."


 


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