APN Q&A: RJ Hadley, Candidate, Secretary of State


rj hadley(APN) ATLANTA — With the Primary Election for Georgia Secretary of State and other statewide races coming up on May 22, 2018, Atlanta Progressive News sent questionnaires to all candidates for the Democratic Primary.


R.J. Hadley, a Democratic Party activist and Chief Deputy Tax Commissioner for Rockdale County, is running for the Democratic nomination Secretary of State.


Other candidates include former State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler and former U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-GA).


The current Secretary of State Brian Kemp is running for Governor of Georgia.


Hadley almost immediately responded.  His answers are as follows:


What is your position on SB 403 – new voting machines and law?


Our current voting machines are sorely outdated and no longer supported in software or hardware. I’ve attended most of the legislative hearings on new voting machines from HB 680 to HB 848 and now SB 403.


I’m against SB 403 in its current form.


I don’t like that Secretary Kemp will control the purchasing process and the newly elected Secretary will have no say in it.  Also SB 403 will allow for an unverifiable voting system which is what we have now with the current machines. The system turns our votes into a barcode before scanning.


My background is in software development/management but I can’t visually read a barcode.  No one could read it and tell for sure that the barcode actually contains my vote. I want a system that scans my vote not a translation of my vote.  Finally, SB 403 has stripped down the stronger risk-level auditing provisions from earlier bills. Auditing supports high voter confidence and should be in place for all elections at all levels.


What is your position on automatic voter registration?


I support all initiatives that will bring more voters into the election process.  Other states have shown that strong AVR where voters have to opt-out of automatic registration directly correlates to higher voter participation rates.


Do you support same-day voter registration?


I support all initiatives that will bring more voters into the election process.  Same-day registration reduces voter confusion and frustration around strict registration deadlines.  States that employ same day registration enjoy higher voter participation rates.


What additional ideas do you have to increase voter registration and participation?


Part of my platform is to enhance the Secretary’s duty of Voter Education.  I want to strengthen relationships and partnerships with other state agencies that will help reach underrepresented populations like the Department of Education, Department of Driver Services, and Board of Pardons and Paroles.


How do you intend to provide for voter registration opportunities for homeless people?


There needs to be stronger collaboration with the non-profits that service this population in terms of voter education.  Also, there will need to be legislation in place that allow a non-profit to sponsor homeless voters for the purposes of establishing location.  It’s not a one-shot solution but would have to be part of a larger discussion. Voting is an opportunity to reconnect thousands of homeless citizens across Georgia with society.  Any discussion around solutions is worth having.


What is your position on voter roll purges?


Voter roll maintenance is required by federal law and serve to reduce administrative costs for local governments.  However, the Office needs to constantly monitor its tactics to ensure the least number of eligible voters are disenfranchised.  Claims of widespread voter fraud have not been substantiated and are used to put forward overly stringent voter purges. Knowing how many people are turned away from the polls each cycle is an important statistic that is not currently captured.  I’d want to know that number to identify districts and what populations are being impacted.


What is your position on ballot access for third party and independent candidates?  Do you support lowering or removing the petition requirements, including the one percent requirement for statewide office, and/or the five percent requirement for non-statewide office?


I’ve have long supported open ballots with limited access restrictions because more choices will bring more voters to the polls.  Our current leadership seems mostly interested in limiting the number of voters who can exercise their right to vote. That is not democracy in my view.


Do you support allowing incarcerated felons to vote?  Ex-felons who have on probation or parole? Ex-felons who have completed their sentences?


Currently, Georgia law requires all time served and monies owed be paid to regain voting rights. I would support restoration after all time/probation completed.


Requiring all monies paid amounts to a poll tax and unnecessarily delays the ex-felons from rejoining society as a productive citizen.


What is your position on decreasing or increasing the early voting period?


Reducing the early voting period along with reducing polling locations are voter suppression tactics.  I’d like to see our early voting period return to 45 days. As Secretary, I will support any initiative that expands the pool of eligible voters and improves their opportunity to express their voting rights.


(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2018)


  • R.J. Hadley means well and we wish him luck, but helping south ga is a very different animal than working for the democratic party in Rockdale County. 1 thing is the % of people in poverty.2nd are other considerations that are specific to the counties south of Atlanta.

    • Just be clear on this point, I have traveled extensively throughout rural Georgia for over a decade. I’m fully aware of the issues and needs outside of route 285. My family roots are deep in Thomasville, GA on the Florida line so please don’t assume that my focus does not extend beyond Metro Atlanta. Thanks for your consideration. rj

  • The elected and potential people need to act on the rural hospital closures. There are a lot of hospitals in ga but 15 have been forced out of business.This is the time to act, blame lack of medicaid expansion laws .The Hispanic population is another point of scrutiny. Many of the Hispanics are younger and thus less in need of care. Also, they are bout 9% of the state population. Young and 9% of Ga population does not equal closed facilities when you add it up.Please call or write newspapers, Elks and Kiwanis Clubs and schools. Do not delay.
    March 2018 coffee shop

    • We need a Secretary that will work to expand the pool of voters by reaching underserved populations, improving voter education and building trust in the election process. I will make you proud as Secretary of State if voters are willing to support a different type of Democratic candidate on May 22. Thank you for your interest. rj

  • Debbie Coquerel

    The primary duties of the secretary of state are to: register corporations in the state of Georgia, run the state’s election system, oversee licensure of certain professions, and regulate the state’s securities market.

  • I am so disappointed with current Secretary of State’s (SoS) Brian Kemp. He has created a mess with the databases and online searches for verification of licenses of professionals by entering the business name or person’s name. For the past two years, the database has deteriorated to becoming worthless (http://verify.sos.ga.gov/verification/). Before he took office of the SoS, the databases worked flawlessly. I can’t believe Kemp is running for Governor. I would never vote for Kemp after the mess he created at SoS.

    Kemp also generated a lot of lawsuits because he accidently released a lot of personal information (like SSN’s) with voter registration lists to third parties on copies of CD’s. What is wrong with this Kemp? He also kept the voter registration database wide open online so it was easily accessible during the 2016 campaign. On purpose or was it an accident?

    I have read a lot about Hadley and he is very intelligent and technology-aware and knowledgeable. Hadley has been highly successful as Rockdale County’s Tax Commissioner. He appears to be “right” person to clean up the previous idiots’ mess. The person who replaces Kemp has a lot of work to clean up the SoS. I hope Hadley gets it and wish him the best.

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