Cathy Woolard (left)

The Fulton County Commission has appointed  former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard as chair of the county elections board despite a threat by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to remove the entire board if they followed through on the nomination.

The commission voted 4-2 in favor of Woolard’s appointment on Wednesday evening. Woolard will fill the seat vacated by Alex Wan, who resigned to run for his old Atlanta City Council seat.

Raffensperger said Woolard was unsuitable for the chair due to her work with Fair Fight, the nonprofit created by Stacey Abrams to stop voter suppression and injustice, and her support of Planned Parenthood.

The secretary was lambasted by former President Donald Trump and state Republicans for refusing to support untruthful claims of widespread voter fraud after President Joe Trump won Georgia.

“Appointing such a blatantly partisan and conflicted individual, who is literally on Stacey Abrams’s payroll, will do incredible damage to the already terrible reputation Fulton has for running elections,” Raffensperger said in a statement to the AJC. “If the Fulton County Commissioners go through with this partisan and irresponsible selection, I will seek the removal of Fulton’s entire election board through SB202, Georgia’s new election law.”

The secretary of state is no longer a member of the State Elections Board, which now has power to takeover a county’s elections thanks to the controversial voter reform legislation signed by the governor earlier this year.

The State Board of Elections is already investigating the presidential election in Fulton County – the first step in a takeover.

“I wish we had a Secretary of State who cared as much about Fulton County’s voters as he did about winning his upcoming primary, but unfortunately we do not. Thankfully, here in Fulton County, we now have Ms. Woolard to fill the void where his leadership has failed,” Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said in a statement after the vote.

Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer of the Secretary of State’s office, waded into the debate on Twitter and was accused of doxing Woolard after he posted a document about Woolard’s work as a lobbyist that included her phone number and address. He later deleted the tweet and apologized.

Sterling tweeted: “At a time when people are concerned about bias from the left or right in election administration, Fulton County is “considering” making a paid lobbyist for Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight, the Chair of their Elections Board. This is the opposite of a choice that will build confidence.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.