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Conservative media personality appointed to seat on Georgia State Election Board

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ATLANTA (AP) — A media personality who co-founded a conservative political action committee has been appointed to a seat on the Georgia State Election Board, which is responsible for developing election rules, investigating allegations of fraud and making recommendations to state lawmakers.

Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, a Republican, on Friday announced the appointment of Janelle King to the board, effective immediately. She replaces Ed Lindsey, a former Republican state lawmaker, who resigned his seat after having served on the board since 2022.

“Janelle will be a tremendous asset as an independent thinker and impartial arbiter who will put principle above politics and ensure transparency and accountability in our elections, and I look forward to her work on behalf of the people of Georgia,” Burns said in a news release announcing King’s appointment.

King is the third new member appointed this year to the board, which has four Republican members and one Democrat. In January, Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Waffle House executive John Fervier to chair the board, and the state Senate approved the nomination of former state Sen. Rick Jeffares. Janice Johnston is the Republican Party appointee to the board, and Sara Tindall Ghazal is the Democratic Party appointee.

King and her husband, Kelvin King, co-chair Let’s Win For America Action, a conservative political action committee. Kelvin King ran for U.S. Senate in 2022 but lost in the Republican primary.

Janelle King has previously served as deputy state director of the Georgia Republican Party, as chair of the Georgia Black Republican Council and as a board member of the Georgia Young Republicans. She appears on Fox 5 Atlanta’s “The Georgia Gang,” has a podcast called “The Janelle King Show” and has been a contributor on the Fox News Channel.

State Republican Party Chairman Josh McKoon, speaking to a fundraising dinner at the state Republican Convention Friday night in Columbus, said the party had been lobbying for Lindsey to be replaced, to flip the board to “a three-person working majority, three people that agree with us on the importance of election integrity.”

McKoon, who saluted Johnston for her work on the board, said such a majority will help ensure the election of Donald Trump in November.

“I believe when we look back on November 5th, 2024, we’re going to say getting to that 3-2 election integrity-minded majority on the State Election Board made sure that we had the level playing field to win this election,” McKoon said. ”So it is incredibly good news.”

Stephanie Jackson Ali, policy director of the New Georgia Project Action Fund, which pushes progressive policies generally favored by Democrats, said in a statement that King’s appointment “will only weaken the Board’s power and efficacy at a time when our elections systems and Georgia voters, more importantly, already face tremendous obstacles.”

“With this appointment, I’m increasingly concerned about the future politicization of a board that should be focused on running our elections smoothly and accessibly for Georgia voters, not on moving forward an agenda for partisan gain,” she said.

Despite her history as a Republican operative, King said she plans to use facts and data to make the right decisions while serving on the board.

“While my conservative values are still the same personally, when it comes to serving, I believe that I have to do my job,” she said in a phone interview Friday. “So I think I’m going to show people over time that I am fair, I am balanced and that I’m able to put my personal feelings to the side when necessary if that’s what it takes to make the best decision.”

The State Election Board has had an elevated profile since the 2020 election cycle resulted in an increased polarization of the rhetoric around elections. Its meetings often attract a boisterous crowd with strong opinions on how the state’s elections should be run and the board members sometimes face criticism and heckling.

King said that wouldn’t faze her: “Look, I’m a Black conservative. Criticism is nothing for me. I am not worried about that at all.”

Recent meetings have drawn scores of public comments from Republican activists who assert that former President Donald Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election. They are calling for major changes in Georgia’s elections, including replacing the state’s touchscreen electronic voting machines with paper ballots marked and counted by hand.

King declined to comment Friday on her feelings about the state’s voting machines, but in a February episode of her podcast she said she has seen “no proof of cheating on the machines” and that she wasn’t in favor of an exclusively paper ballot system.

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Associated Press writer Jeff Amy contributed from Columbus, Georgia.

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