One of the Gwinnett County Republican Party’s two representatives on the bipartisan county elections board told fellow members of the GOP that she favors major elections changes at the local and state levels, including a move away from no excuse absentee voting for many Georgians.

Alice O’Lenick, who is the Gwinnett Board of Registrations and Elections chairwoman for 2021 and 2022, encouraged members of her party to write letters and make phone calls to state legislators to encourage them to make changes to state elections laws.

Republicans in Georgia, including members of the state legislature, have been calling for changes after experiencing losses in the 2020 election cycle. In that cycle, the Democratic Party had big wins in the state in the presidential, 7th Congressional District and both U.S. Senate races.

“I was on a Zoom call the other day and I said, ‘I’m like a dog with a bone. I will not let them end this session without changing some of these laws,’ “ O’Lenick said. “They don’t have to change all of them, but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning.”

O’Lenick — who referred to 2020 as a “terrible elections cycle” during the GOP meeting — outlined several changes pertaining to elections that she would like to see made in Georgia. Several of them pertain to how Georgians can cast ballots ahead of election day.

One of them is having the state require up to 21 days of early voting — officially called advance-in-person voting — with one mandatory Saturday voting day and one mandatory Sunday voting day. County elections officials should be free to set their own hours on the Sunday voting, she said.

Two even bigger changes would center around absentee voting in Georgia, however.

One would be a partial rollback of no excuse absentee-by-mail voting. Georgia has had no excuse absentee voting for more than a decade and its popularity exploded in 2020 as officials at the Georgia Secretary of State’s office pushed it as a safe alternative for voters who were concerned about waiting in line to vote amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

O’Lenick suggested only certain population groups should be allowed to ask for an absentee ballot without giving a reason for the request.

“The absentee-by-mail, you exclude the elderly and infirm (from needing an excuse), and everyone else would have to have an excuse,” she said. “We took out a few years ago absentee-by-mail for cause, so you don’t have to say a cause. You just say, ‘It’s not convenient. I’m just not going to go (on election day).’”

The other change related to absentee ballots that O’Lenick is advocating would entail banning absentee ballot drop boxes, which was a new option introduced in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ballot drop boxes have to go,” she said. “I’ve had an attorney on Jan. 5 that was sent by the (Republican National Committee), two of them, that stood outside Gwinnett (election) headquarters and all they did was photograph people dropping absentee ballots in that box that’s right, as you’re looking at the office, to the left of the front door.

“They did not see one person that was dropping in one ballot at a time, and they came to me and said, ‘Alice, why in the world do you have this here?’ And, I said, ‘Well, A, I didn’t put it there (and), B, I complained about it.’”

At the local level, where her role as elections board chairwoman gives her greater influence, O’Lenick said she wants to take a look at Gwinnett County’s voter registration rolls.

“As chairman, I am going to push that Gwinnett County update the voter registration rolls to make sure that people who live out of the state are no longer on the Gwinnett County rolls,” O’Lenick said. “We don’t seem to have a lot of dead people on our rolls, but we’re going to check that out too.

“We’re also going to check out whether people are legal or not. We did have in our provisional ballots — normally we have anywhere from two to five people who are non-citizens that think because they have a driver’s license then they can come and vote. This time around, for the senatorial races, we had much more than that.”

O’Lenick also wants the legislature to address voter rolls as well.

“We need to make sure that we put pressure on our elected officials, both in the state House and the state Senate, that election laws will be changed,” she said. “I have offered my opinions. My No. 1 is the rolls. We have to make sure only people who live in Gwinnett County or live in Georgia are on the voter registration rolls.”

The county’s elections board is made up of two representatives of the Gwinnett county Republican Party and two representatives of the Gwinnett County Democratic Party as well as a fifth member who is chosen by the rest of the board. It is set to hold its next meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at gwinnettgov.webex.com/gwinnettgov/onstage/g.php?MTID=ed57454b04ae94345c65d29ef42571087.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

(18) comments

Spinj6m

It's amazing to me how many people read this lady's comment and think she is doing something nefarious because she wants to change the laws so Republicans "at least have a shot at winning." This is a woman that believes the existing laws allowed the Democrats to cheat their way to victory. In that context, if the laws aren't changed, the Democrats will be allowed to cheat in future elections, thereby removing any chance that Republicans have of winning. Whether you agree that the D's cheated or not is irrelevant. She believes it. Which is why her statement makes perfect logical sense. You people claiming that her statement means she wants to change the laws so Republicans can cheat their way to victory are not thinking clearly.

KingSkippus

“They don’t have to change all of [the election laws], but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning.”

There they go again, saying what’s supposed to be the quiet part out loud. I’ll remind O’Lenick that the purpose of an election is not to give one side or another a “shot at winning,” but to gauge as accurately as possible the will of the electorate. It is telling to me that when Democrats want to win, they focus on increasing voter turnout. When Republicans want to win, they focus on suppressing voter turnout.

Someone with the title of Gwinnett Elections Chairperson should be focused on increasing voter turnout, not decreasing it. That is her job. If she wants to engage in partisan politics, she should work for the Republican Party instead of holding what is supposed to be a non-partisan office.

I can’t help but take O’Lenick’s comments personally, because that is MY vote she wants to suppress and the votes of MY friends, and she is openly admitting to using her office with intent to try to carry out that suppression. To me, that should absolutely disqualify her from her position and she should resign immediately.

billgriffin

Optional voting by mail means there is no assurance the votes will be cast anonymously. Voting by mail creates the opportunity for observation, harassment, the buying and selling of votes, coercion, threats, and violence. It is a repugnant practice no matte which side wins.

divadnibud

I'm an Independent and I find her idea egregious. Her statement, “They don’t have to change all of them, but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning” shows that she does NOT care about honesty or fairness, only about WINNING. I'm also a combat veteran with over 24 years service to our country, and I didn't serve the Constitution to be denied my right to vote by forcing me, or anyone, to physically go to a polling place, especially in the wake of a pandemic. Voting should be made as secure as possible, but as easy as possible and to that end, having locked & monitored drop boxes posted around the county and the availability of absentee ballots are one of the easiest and least expensive ways of ensuring everyone that has the ability to vote when it is most convenient for them. To do anything else is an attempt to disenfranchise Gwinnett voters.

billgriffin

The recipient of a mailed ballot is subject to harassment and intimidation by at the least members of their own household. To deny that is to deny the condition of dementia, substance abuse, homelessness, and etc., etc. Don't support that.

JHopkins@

I support Alice O'Lenick 100%. Those of you commenting here and saying nasty things about her, shame on you. Ms O'Lenick is trying her best to ensure the integrity of our elections, why would anyone be opposed to that? No, whats really behind your negative comments are simply a concerted effort to purge whats left of the Republican Party from Gwinnett County government and you know it. Shame on all of you

TinaO

This is voter suppression. There has been no evidence of voter fraud. She wants to hinder people from voting. She is a disgrace.

JHopkins@

Why is he a disgrace? For wanting integrity in our voting system? Sounds like a champion of democracy to me

Crown Apple

This woman and her GOP ploys are beyond ridiculous. The GOP can’t win based on numbers so they will try and rig the rules. Voter suppression under the guise of fraud is their goal. But it’s not going to work. It will not be tolerated.

JHopkins@

Who died and made you king? How do you know the Republican Party cannot win elections in Gwinnett County?

Sis

As a Gwinnett voter, I find this outrageous. If Ms. O'Lenick is upset at the prospect of Republicans losing future elections, perhaps she should consider advocating policies that non-Republicans would find appealing. "We have to rig the system so that my team can win" is a reprehensible idea, and not how democracy at any level should work.

kathystatham

Alice O’Lenick has a right to

Voice her opinion and speak for the majority of Republicans. We support her and will fight for the changes she referenced. This is another attempt to silence conservative voices and allow easy access to voter fraud. We will not stand by and will not be backed into a corner because we demand fairness.

Jhollon

Gwinnett County is leading the charge in shifting GA....conservatives are realizing their time has come to a close and they don't like it.

Ruby Craft

O'Lenick wants to remove drop boxes because she doesn't understand why people drop off multiple ballots? Does she not realize that most household have more than one legally registered voter. I used the drop box to drop off my husband's and my ballots at the same time. I am glad the drop box is there and it is legal to do deposit both votes at the same time. Why would I make multiple trips? Changing the voting laws because she doesn't like the election results should be illegal. I don't like any of her proposed changes. It appears to me she only wants changes that she feels favor her party.

divadnibud

On both the regular election and the special election, I dropped off 3 ballots. One for me, one for my wife, and one for my 100 year old mother-in-law. We used the drop box because we didn't trust the USPS to get our ballots there on time.

CSFiles

This kind of Voter Suppression will not happen in Gwinnett. The spotlight on voter suppression on the State is a good thing and 2020 PROVES voter suppression and cheating are the only ways Republicans win in Georgia. We will not be held hostage by corrupt Republicans any longer.

asheldon

This quote from O'Lenick a Repubilian says it all about the underlying reasoning which is not about enabling everyone exercise their right to vote but suppressing Democratic votes "“They don’t have to change all of them, but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning.”".

CSFiles

Georgia has been held hostage by Corrupt Republicans for too long.

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