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Tuesday August 16th, 2022 5:43AM

Kemp names retired federal judge to Georgia election board

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has named a retired federal judge to chair the State Election Board, filling a position that opened more than a year ago when Kemp signed a new election law that removed Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as a voting member of the five-person panel.

Kemp on Friday announced William S. Duffey Jr. for the post, which is supposed to be nonpartisan under the 2021 law. The Republican Kemp held off for more than a year on making a pick and state lawmakers, who could have filled the vacancy during their 2022 session, also chose not to act.

Duffey joins a board with three Republicans and one Democrat. It's in charge of making rules for state elections and recommending what should be done about people who break rules and laws.

Republican lawmakers included the removal of Republican Raffensperger in a section of the sprawling voting law, in part because they were unhappy with how he ran the 2020 elections. A decision to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters angered House Speaker David Ralston, for example. Kemp went along with the General Assembly's decision even though both Kemp and Raffensperger were taking fire from former President Donald Trump for not overturning Democrat Joe Biden's victory in Georgia.

Although Raffensperger was removed from a voting position, his employees continue to act as the board's staff, giving him significant influence over board operations.

Kemp said in a statement that Duffey “has established himself as a man of integrity who will uphold the highest ethical standards in his application of the laws of our state and nation.”

“I am confident Judge Duffey will be a great asset to our state and help ensure our elections are secure, accessible, and fair,” Kemp said.

Duffey was nominated as a federal judge in Georgia's northern district by Republican President George W. Bush in 2004 and served until stepping down from active service in 2018. Before that, Duffey was chosen by Bush as U.S. attorney for the same district. Duffey was also Bush's Georgia campaign finance chairman.

The law says a State Elections Board chairperson can’t actively participate in politics or donate money to candidates while serving, or in the two years before serving.

From 1994 to 1995, Duffey was a deputy to Kenneth Starr investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton, overseeing the Arkansas part of the Whitewater investigation. Before and after that, he was a partner with Atlanta-based King & Spalding, where he worked on issues including internal corporate investigations.

Duffey said in a statement he would "protect the integrity of the election process because every Georgia voter is entitled to know their vote is secure and that it counts.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
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