Fulton elections director Richard Barron to keep job for now after commissioners vote

Fulton County Registration and Elections Director Richard Barron

Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron will keep his job following a vote by the Fulton County Commission Wednesday.

The commission failed to reach four votes to approve the recommendation by the Fulton County Election Board to terminate Barron. The election board had voted 3-2 Tuesday to fire Richard Barron after receiving criticism for its handling of the presidential and Senate runoff. Barron served in the position for eight years.

Commissioner Bob Ellis, who brought forth the motion to move on the election board’s recommendation to fire Barron, said the commission’s failure to accept the election board’s recommendation would be a needless politicization of the election process.

After the initial motion failed, Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. made a motion to reject the election board’s recommendation, but that motion also failed.

It was not immediately clear if the issue would be brought up again at the next commission meeting. It is standard practice for a failed agenda item to be brought up for three consecutive meetings.

The issue of Barron's future in the position as the director comes after a series of elections where the county was criticized by state elections officials and targeted over rumors about vote tampering.

In November, the Georgia Secretary of State's Office opened two investigations into Fulton County's handling of the 2020 election involving the "chain of custody" dealing with votes.

The county received regular criticism from the secretary of state's office, with complaints about delays caused by technical problems and a lack of manpower due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Fulton County did not do well. They were not ready for the onslaught. They had computers down. Faculties not open and used inexperienced poll workers all over the county," NAACP Atlanta President Richard Rose told FOX 5 after the second day of early voting in the 2020 election.

This was not the first time the county had been criticized for election delays. In 2017, an issue with the software at the Fulton County elections preparation center led to delays in election vote reporting for hours.

Fulton County also was the focus of allegations of voter fraud by former President Donald Trump, who claimed that thousands of ballots were illicitly added in the county as well as through fraudulent mail-in votes in a phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. After multiple counts and audits, no major voting discrepancies have been found.

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