Outside donations to help run elections no longer an option for Georgia cities, counties

·2 min read

Georgia’s newest elections law bans cities and counties from using outside money to help run its elections.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot was at the Government Center, where the first elections board meeting was held since the governor signed that bill into law.

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The Chair of the Fulton County Board of Elections said the price tag for holding elections has quadrupled since 2019, and that she would accept outside grant money to help pay for them if it wasn’t now illegal in Georgia.

“We’re going to comply with the law and do whatever we need to do, but it does cause some friction with taxpayers and the Board of Commissioners,” said Fulton Elections Board Chair Cathy Woolard.

Woolard and the rest of the Elections Board met Thursday for the first time since Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill into law that makes it a felony for any county or city elections official to accept any kind of outside money to help pay for local elections.

Woolard said Fulton County hasn’t accepted any grant money since 2020, but added they would happily apply for grants again were it legal to do so.

“The grants are out there,” Woolard said. “People apply for them, and they might get them. We can’t do that anymore in this state, so we won’t. People in other states are going to get the benefit of us not applying for those funds, and they’re going to fund improvements in our election departments that we’re not going to have the ability to do.”


Back when the Georgia Senate debated that bill, Acworth Republican State Senator Ed Setzler worried that outside money was trying to influence state elections.

“This is a fair measure,” Setzler said. “Those that oppose it are simply trying to engineer an outcome by private entities, trying to tip the scale from one side to the other.”

Other counties, including Cobb, have expressed concerns in the past over rising election costs without a clear way to pay for them.

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