Voter confidence in Georgia is at an all-time low, especially in certain counties with a history of election integrity issues. And yet, a recent article by the Federalist details the extent to which Ed Lindsay serves as  both a paid lobbyist for key counties and as a voting member on the state board charged with overseeing elections in those fraught counties, which is far from reassuring.

Georgia’s elections are key because they play a significant role in shaping national election results, but this revelation also comes as a reminder to all voters to examine the officials running their elections. Shawn Fleetwood’s Federalist article proves that independent investigation into the members that shape federal, state, and local elections is worthwhile. State level boards can have major implications on our elections, and anyone can play a role in keeping those boards accountable.

In Georgia, Ed Lindsey’s term came to a close at the end of March, but unfortunately so did Georgia’s legislative session. Because Ed Lindsey was not replaced by the Georgia Legislature, he continues to hold his seat. Nevertheless, concerned citizens should stay engaged with this issue by keeping a close eye on how he votes and advocating for his replacement at the next possible opportunity.

Fortunately, Georgia is a strong example of an electorate actively involved in their election infrastructure. Before 2020, Georgia State Election Board meetings barely filled the first couple rows. Recently, during the Board’s recent December meeting, attendance was so high at one point that some attendees were asked to leave the room and watch the meeting from an overflow space.

This November, all eyes are likely to remain on the SEB, which is why it is imperative that all five board members be free of outside financial interests when determining whether to investigate serious election complaints or what rules to adopt.

According to the Federalist’s article and the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, Ed Lindsey serves as a lobbyist for DeKalb County and Cobb County while also remaining a voting member of the SEB. These counties are no strangers to election controversies, and rules the SEB is voting on could directly impact the finances and perceptions of Lindsey’s clients.

For example, both Cobb County and Dekalb County accepted sizeable grants for election infrastructure from left-wing non-profit groups funded by Mark Zuckerberg, known as “ZuckBucks.” Research shows that these grants were partisan in nature and acted as a get out the vote operation for Democrats. As a result, individual states, including Georgia, have banned election officials from accepting ZuckBucks, and the U.S. Committee on Administration recently held a hearing on the matter, as federal solutions are also being considered.

Although Georgia passed legislation banning ZuckBucks, Lindsey’s client county of DeKalb found a supposed loophole in the law and accepted another $2 million in ZuckBucks funding to go towards the 2024 election. DeKalb is a source of election concerns, so it is easy to understand why having the county’s lobbyist on the SEB would be inappropriate and detrimental to greater transparency and security in the election process.

How appointments are made to the SEB is determined by state law, which specifies that one seat is appointed by Republicans, one by Democrats, one by the House, one by the Senate, and the Chair is supposed to be a non-partisan seat appointed by a majority of the House and Senate. Although some members may have some political ties, lobbying interests raise a completely different set of concerns than mere political partisanship.

There are several lessons that all voters can take from Georgia’s SEB issue—the most obvious being that the influence of state election boards and who serves on them should not be overlooked.

If states want to avoid high profile election chaos and rebuild voter confidence, they should be diligent in appointing only those without even the appearance of conflicts of interest to their state election boards. A state can implement chain of custody procedures, ban drop boxes, and tidy up election procedures all they want. If the consensus of the public, supported by mounting evidence, is that an election official at any level is a partisan political player rather than an umpire calling balls and strikes, true faith and trust in the system can never be obtained. Georgia specifically should replace Ed Lindsey at the next possible opportunity.