UPDATE 4:46 p.m.: ADDS audio clips from meeting

UPDATE 3:48 p.m.: As SEB Chair mentioned Cobb County, someone took over the meeting and projected a pornographic video. The meeting link then shut down.

UPDATE 2:24 p.m.: The SEB has issued an updated meeting agenda with the public link to the meeting.

The State Election Board called an emergency meeting for 2:30 p.m. today, Saturday, December 3. The public notice, which The Clayton Crescent received by e-mail at 11:48 a.m., said the meeting would be held by teleconference and “conducted in Executive Session pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2.” The agenda said the SEB will meet “to discuss potential litigation.”

While the Georgia Open Meetings Act does not allow matters discussed in executive session to be aired in public, any vote or action that the SEB would take based on that executive session must be done in public. Therefore, what happens just before and after the executive session constitutes an open meeting.

A link referring the public for more information led to a page on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website that reads, “Sorry, access is not authorized. You do not have access to this resource.”

The law does provide for a judge to review executive session minutes, which are sworn records, in chambers should the executive session’s proceedings come before a court.

The emergency meeting came on the heels of news that U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker is registered to vote in both Texas and Georgia, and that he took a homestead exemption for his Texas home, although he had moved to Georgia to run for the seat held by Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock. Both men are in a hotly contested runoff on Tuesday, December 6.

While it’s not clear that Walker’s residency or voter registration are the matter in question, Ann Gregory Roberts filed a complaint last Sunday with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, calling for an investigation:

The Clayton Crescent had noted that the executive session might have absolutely nothing to do with the U.S. Senate race or Walker’s voter registration or residency, but with some other possible litigation. Another possible case involve extending the deadline for Cobb County mail-in advance/absentee votes:

The Clayton Crescent made several efforts to reach the SEB or the Georgia Secretary of State’s office (by phone, e-mail, web form, or Twitter) for a link where the public can view the meeting.

The Clayton Crescent e-mailed SEB Chair William Duffey, asking for a dial-in number or link for the public to access the open portion of today’s emergency special called meeting. We copied Clare Norins of the University of Georgia Law First Amendment Clinic.

Past meetings have been livestreamed from Room 341 of the Georgia Capitol Building, but it was not clear whether the teleconference would be held from multiple locations, such as via Zoom, given today is a weekend day before the election.

Past State Election Board meetings have taken place via Zoom audio conference call, as this transcript shows. However, the public notice of Saturday’s emergency meeting did not include a link or dial-in number for the public to attend. Georgia’s Open Meetings Act requires that the public have access to all public meetings held by state elected and appointed bodies like the SEB.

Several minutes before the meeting’s 2:30 p.m. scheduled start, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office e-mailed an updated agenda, which included the Zoom link and access code:

When the meeting started, 72 people, including journalists, attorneys, elected officials, and citizens were on the call:

As the meeting got underway, someone on the call interrupted Duffey and members of the board as they attempted to conduct the meeting. The person running the call muted everyone except board members.

Then the board went into executive session for about an hour.

When they returned, Duffey called the roll, reconvened the public portion of the meeting and said, “Well, we have concluded our executive session discussion. At that—during our discussion, we focused on the order entered by the Cobb County Superior Court, uh, yesterday, which was December second, two thousand—” 

At that point, an image of a man engaging in a sex act with himself overtook the entire Zoom window for several seconds. Then the Zoom call terminated.

We have e-mailed the Secretary of State’s office to ask whether the meeting reconvened or any vote or other action was taken based on the executive session. We will update when we find out more.

The unedited version of the recording can be found on our Soundcloud page, or you can listen to just the Zoom bomb portion of the recording.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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