Will Peebles|Savannah Morning News
Even when removed from Georgias controversial, seemingly endless 2020 election season, Chatham Countys Board of Elections has had a tumultuous start to the year.
Last week, with nary a press release or public announcement, a new member was appointed to fill former Republican board member Debbie Rauers seat after she resigned amidan investigation of her allegedly hitting a woman with her car in Orleans Square on Jan. 5.
To add to the churn of unprecedented decisions, the Chatham County Republican Party, the group responsible for appointing a new board member, didnt pick a Republican for the seat.
Instead, they chose Independent Carry Smith, a former member of the Chatham County Democratic Party and local political scientist. Back in October, Smith was a driving factor in the disqualification of Tony Riley, a Democratic candidate for the Chatham Commission District 2.
But after a change of heart, Smith submitted her letter of resignation on Thursday, less than a week after being sworn in.
Smith is currently in the process of getting her doctorate in political science from Clark Atlanta University. She worked for the Board of Elections during this summers primary election as an absentee ballot processor.
More: Chatham County election day marred by human error, government squabbles, voter confusion
At that point, she was a registered Democrat and a member of the Chatham County Democratic Party. Smith said after bringing light to Rileys grounds for disqualification, she was kicked out of the Democratic party and receivedmultiple death threats.
On Jan. 14, Smith was invited to speak at a CCRP meeting after submitting a resume and cover letter for the job.
I think they wanted somebody who was actively participating in meetings and actively knew what the issues pertaining to the office were and how difficult it was to stand up and put their name in the hat for the position, Smith said.
After being chosen as Rauers replacement, she filed the paperwork required by the Secretary of States Office, and was sworn in by Chatham County Probate Court Judge Tom Bordeaux on Jan. 22.
Then, on Thursday, she resigned.
Smiths quick resignation stemmed from a desire for fairness, she said. She disagrees with the boards makeup of two Democrats and two Republicans, calling it unconstitutional in that the Libertarian Party is not represented. She believes the board should be nonpartisan altogether, but until then, an actual Republican should hold the seat.
I don't want so much distrust. At this point. It would be better to see someone in the seat who is very capable and very intelligent, who is a representative of the party, Smith said. This was further reasoning that we need a merger of both offices and to get rid of the partisan politics that keep the board members from doing their job.
The Board of Elections has a special called meeting scheduled for 10a.m. on Friday, but details about the agenda have not been released. Calls to Board of Elections Chairman Tom Mahoney havenot been returned , and as of Thursday, no public notification of Smiths appointment and subsequent resignation has been given.
Will Peebles is the enterprise reporter for Savannah Morning News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @willpeeblessmn on Twitter.
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