The retired federal court judge who led Georgia State Election Board resigned from the panel effective Friday. He was appointed to the board in order to dispel unfounded allegations of election fraud relating the 2020 presidential elections.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that William “Bill” Duffey Jr. was stepping down. His resignation letter, however, dates from July 18.
Duffey stated that he wished to step down, now that the Georgia 2021 Election Law has transformed the board into a self-standing organization. It was previously chaired the secretary of State.
Duffey wrote: “Now that the new board structure has been implemented, it’s important to name the chair of the next election cycle in 2024 in enough time to allow that person to prepare.”
The board sets rules for state election and makes recommendations on what to do about those who violate rules and laws.
Duffey was appointed only in June 2022 after an year-long delay due to the passage of a law.
Duffey’s board aimed to assure people, following the breach of voting machines in Coffee County, south Georgia that elections were secure. The board was also trying to dispel unfounded allegations of fraud during the 2020 elections, such as a claim by poll workers that they found forged ballots on different paper or that election workers had improperly counted “suitcases full of ballots”.
After a review, the board decided not to take over the elections of Fulton County. The review concluded that despite some problems, administration was improving. The board voted to sue Texas’ True the Vote in July, asking for a judge to order the group to reveal information they claim proves that people illegally collected ballots and deposited them in drop boxes between 2020 and 2021.
Meetings of the Georgia 2020 Presidential Election Board have been a source of controversy, as those who believe that Georgia’s presidential election in 2020 was stolen packed meetings to lambaste them. Many of these people have turned to calling for the state elections to take place on paper ballots, and to be counted manually.
Kemp or the lawmakers can choose a new chairman for the board. As long as lawmakers confirm Kemp’s choice the next time the General Assembly meets, the law allows Kemp to name the board leader even when the General Assembly has not met. If Kemp does not act by January, then the House and Senate could nominate a new leader.
The chairperson must not run for office, give campaign contributions or participate in party politics. The chair cannot have been a partisan candidate, contributor to a partisan candidate, or member of a partisan group for the past two years.
In addition to the chair, the board also has four members: one member elected by the State House, another by the Senate and one each by the Democratic and Republican Parties. In practice, this means that the board is made up of three Republicans, one Democrat, and the nonpartisan chairman.
Duffey served as a federal district judge for Georgia’s Northern District until 2018. He was appointed by Republican president George W. Bush and served in that position until he retired from active service. Bush had previously appointed Duffey as U.S. Attorney for the same district. Duffey served as Bush’s Georgia Campaign Finance Chairman.
Duffey served as Kenneth Starr’s deputy from 1994 to 1995. He was responsible for the Arkansas portion of the Whitewater probe. He was a partner at Atlanta-based King & Spalding before and after this, where he handled matters such as internal corporate investigations.