Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced that his office will be investigating Fulton County following statements from an election official that the chain of custody documents for ballots were missing. The next hearing on the Fulton County audit lawsuit is scheduled to take place today, on June 21.
Missing forms investigation
On June 13th, The Georgia Star News published an article about missing ballots transfer forms in Fulton County. It received 1,180 absentee ballot transfer forms from the county election officials, which was significantly less than the 1,565 unique transfers of absentee ballots made by election workers between Sep. 24 and Nov. 3, 2020.
In other words, the media outlet did not receive 385 absentee ballot transfer forms, which were supposed to provide chain of custody documentation for 18,901 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes during the 2020 presidential race. Given that Joe Biden won the state of Georgia with less than 12,000 votes, the lack of proper documentation is a red flag.
Moreover, 28 counties in Georgia failed to respond to an Open Records Request made by The Georgia Star News, which asked county officials to provide all absentee ballot drop box transfer forms. The media outlet received transfer forms from 59 counties, which only provides chain of custody documentation for 266,492 absentee ballots out of the estimated 600,000 total.
In another report from June 14, Mariska Bodison from the Fulton County Registration & Elections admitted to the news agency that “a few [absentee ballot transfer] forms are missing.” She blamed the pandemic for the error. “It seems when 25 plus core personnel were quarantined due to positive COVID-19 outbreak at the EPC, some procedural paperwork may have been misplaced.”
Following The Georgia Star News reports, Raffensperger announced an investigation into the matter. “New revelations that Fulton County is unable to produce all ballot drop box transfer documents will be investigated thoroughly, as we have with other counties that failed to follow Georgia rules and regulations regarding drop boxes. This cannot continue,” Raffensperger said in a June 15 tweet.
The Secretary of State criticized Fulton County’s leadership, stating that “restoring confidence in our elections is going to be impossible” as long as they fail the voters in Fulton County and Georgia. In April, Raffensperger had announced similar investigations in counties such as Taylor, Coffee, and Grady, while also claiming that the remaining 120 counties in the state have properly completed their absentee ballot transfer forms.
Back in July 2020, Georgia’s State Election Board, of which Raffensperger is a member, had passed an emergency rule asking all counties in the state to use and maintain transfer forms to ensure proper documentation of the chain of custody for absentee ballots collected from drop boxes. Of the roughly 300 drop boxes placed statewide in the 2020 presidential election, 37 were placed in Fulton County and were available to the public for a period of 41 days between September 24 and November 3.
The missing absentee ballot transfer forms could be critical in the ongoing audit lawsuit against Fulton County officials. The lawsuit, filed in December 2020, alleges that voting irregularities occurred in the Nov. 3 presidential race.
Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero had initially ruled to unseal around 147,000 absentee ballots on May 21, and scheduled a meeting between the plaintiffs and defendants at the ballot storage location on May 28. However, county officials filed several motions, postponing the meeting and scheduling a new hearing date for June 21.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Garland Favorito, head of the Voter GA election integrity group and a petitioner in the lawsuit, stated that the ballot transfer forms could be used in the case at some point. “[The missing forms] could explain why we saw counterfeit ballots… [Those ballots] could have originated from these drop boxes that don’t have chain of custody forms… So I think there is a connection there,” Favorito told the media outlet.
The lawsuit cites an affidavit by Susan Voyles who worked as a poll manager in the November election recount. At a Georgia Senate Committee hearing in December, Voyles testified that she found a batch of 110 ballots that were not folded and were in “pristine” condition. She pointed out that most absentee ballots are folded because they are sent and received by mail.
“Most of them were pretty worn, until we came up to a batch that is, it was, my words were ‘pristine.’ It was white, it was so white,” Voyles stated. She had earlier attested, under penalty of perjury, that approximately 98 percent of the unusual batch of ballots she had seen, with no signs of use or markings, were marked for Joe Biden. Following her statements, the county informed Voyles that she would not be reappointed to any poll positions in the future.