CNC Staff Compiled – In a letter dated September 23, 2020 addressed to Secretary of State Tre Hargett, State Representative Yusuf Hakeem expressed his concern that the Hamilton County Election Commission office “is becoming a petri dish for undermining the of the fundamental right to free and fair elections.”
Hakeem stated that a laundry list of concerns expressed to him by voters included, engaging in practices causing voter suppression, allegations of discriminatory hiring of both permanent and part-time workers, as well as, a lack of diversity with regard to both race and political party affiliation. Representative Hakeem also told Secretary Hargett there were concerns of insufficient funding allocated to the Hamilton County Election Commission. “As you are aware, adequate funding is necessary to safeguard free and fair elections,” Hakeem told Hargett.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett provided a statement saying “I think it is important to reiterate my confidence in all members of the Hamilton County Election Commission and their ability to oversee the upcoming elections. As most citizens know, each county makes every possible attempt to attract election officials from both parties, and based on information we received from the Hamilton County Election Commission it appears those numbers are very close.”
Hargett provided numbers showing the Elections Commission has employed 37 republican officers, 33 democratic officers, with 2 non-partisan officers.
Representative Hakeem wants the investigation to happen before the November election and says this data isn’t enough!
“To give us numbers on paper is one thing but what is the verification process of these numbers? That’s what I am getting at. I feel that at this point in time there needs to be some independent monitors or persons who have accountability on their minds to share that information with us,” said Repr. Hakeem.
Hakeem also pointed out that none of his allegations were in direct connection to Hamilton County Elections Commission Administrator Kerry Steelman who had last week chosen to take a paid leave of absence. Harry Burnett, Steelman’s attorney, related Steelman’s choice to temporarily step down stemmed from internal issues between he and staff at the Commission.
Hakeem reiterated his concerns are about this year’s Commission.
NEWS UPDATE: September 30, 2020
The Hamilton County Election Commission has voted 4-1 (September 30, 2020) to terminate the Administrator of Elections Kerry Steelman, effective immediately. Steelman originally took a paid leave of absence stemming from allegations from other employees of unfair treatment. The Commission said it wasn’t good for “morale” moving forward.