Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed Tuesday that his office is investigating allegations that large-scale illegal ballot harvesting took place during the 2020 general election.
Raffensperger’s office received a detailed complaint in November from the conservative voter integrity group True the Vote stating that it had “assembled evidence that scores of activists worked with nonprofit groups to collect and deliver thousands of absentee ballots, often during wee-hour operations, to temporary voting drop boxes distributed around the state during the pandemic,” Just the News reported.
That would be known as ballot harvesting, which happens when someone other than the voter delivers a ballot to be counted. This practice is illegal under Georgia law, which requires absentee ballots to be either mailed in or personally delivered unless the voter is disabled, in which case a family or household member can deliver the ballot.
“True the Vote’s complaint offered Raffensperger’s office access to what are characterized as detailed phone records and surveillance video it said would show as many as 242 people repeatedly made trips to the drop boxes to deliver ballots in what it described as a mass ‘ballot trafficking operation,'” Just the News reported.
“The group said it bought commercially available geospatial mobile device data showing the locations of suspected ballot harvesters’ cell phones in the vicinity of the ballot drop boxes at the times people appeared on the surveillance footage stuffing multiple ballots into a drop box,” the outlet added.
True the Vote alleged in its complaint that surveillance video evidence suggests that “242 people engaged in a total of 5,662 ballot drops, an average of 23 runs per alleged harvester.”
The footage shows numerous instances of large numbers of ballots being stuffed into ballot boxes, True the Vote stated. Additionally, more than 40 percent of the alleged drop-offs occurred between midnight and 5 a.m., the group alleged.
True the Vote said one man admitted he and others engaged in ballot harvesting.
“John Doe” stated that he was paid $10 for each ballot he collected and delivered during the November 2020 election and the Jan. 5, 2021, Senate runoffs, True the Vote alleged, according to Just the News.
“John Doe described a network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that worked together to facilitate a ballot trafficking scheme in Georgia,” True the Vote stated, according to Just the News.
“John Doe’s assignment included collecting ballots, both from voters in targeted neighborhoods and from NGOs that had their own ballot collection processes, delivering those ballots to other NGOs, picking up designated ballot bundles from the same group of NGOs, and depositing ballots into drop boxes spanning six counties in the metro Atlanta area,” the group added.
To give some context, Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are currently investigating the role an NGO called the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which reportedly received large financial contributions from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, may have played in the handling of absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s five biggest cities: Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Racine and Kenosha.
On its website, True the Vote said Raffensperger launched a “statewide investigation into ballot trafficking” in Georgia on Monday.
Raffensperger confirmed to investigative journalist John Solomon, editor in chief of Just the News, that an active investigation into potential ballot harvesting is taking place in the Peach State.
“We do have some information and we’re going to investigate that,” Raffensperger said in an episode of Solomon’s podcast released Tuesday.
In a segment of the interview that starts about the 22:30 mark, he told Solomon the ballot boxes were under “24/7” video surveillance, as required by law.
He further noted that a “statewide ballot harvesting analysis” conducted by a private firm regarding the 2020 election revealed no irregularities.
“But, that said, if people give us credible allegations, we want to make sure that we [investigate], and we have that right now as an ongoing investigation,” Raffensperger said.
Solomon then asked if subpoenas from the Georgia State Election Board were possible in the investigation, and Raffensperger affirmed it.
“That will be one of the processes we’re looking at if we have people that don’t want to come forward for whatever concern,” Raffensperger said. “Because we really need to get to the bottom of it. We just can’t let it sit there … so if it comes to that then [that will] probably be the next step that we’d be looking at.”
“There were persistent chain of custody issues throughout the entire absentee ballot processing system,” the report stated.
It added that “the fact that ballots were delivered to State Farm Arena in unsecured mail carts is very concerning. … Protocol for securing ballots exists not only to protect the ballots themselves but also to ensure that no ballot box stuffing occurred.”
On election night, party observers and media at State Farm Arena, the Fulton County venue where votes were counted, were told counting had stopped, only for it to resume for nearly two more hours soon thereafter.
The election review concluded that “the truth about what happened on the night of November 3rd between 10:30PM and 11:52PM [at State Farm Arena] continues to be elusive … but if the [GOP] poll watchers are correct, then there is a serious problem.”
Fulton County registration chief Ralph Jones, who was present at State Farm Arena that night, resigned in August after coming under intense criticism for the county’s handling of the 2020 election. Raffensperger had called for his firing the previous month.
Fulton County’s continued failures have gone on long enough with no accountability. Rick Barron and Ralph Jones, Fulton’s registration chief, must be fired and removed from Fulton’s elections leadership immediately. Fulton’s voters and the people of Georgia deserve better.
— GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (@GaSecofState) July 15, 2021
Rick Barron, Fulton County’s elections director for the 2020 election, also announced his resignation in November, which took effect at the end of the year, the Georgia Recorder reported.
Raffensperger and the state election board have taken steps to put Fulton County elections in state receivership, meaning the state, and not local officials, would oversee the county’s elections in 2022, according to Just the News.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in September that then-DeKalb County Elections Director Erica Hamilton was placed on leave without explanation, and she later resigned after facing scrutiny over her handling of the 2020 election.
It is a matter of record that strange things happened in Georgia during the 2020 election cycle. Whether they could have altered the outcome of the presidential contest, which Joe Biden won by 12,670 votes, is a matter of dispute.
Raffensperger’s office, as Just the News reported, has concluded “the problems were not widespread enough to overcome Biden’s 12,000-vote margin of victory,” though Trump supporters are not convinced.
What is indisputable is that further investigation and, if need be, change is the order of the day so Georgians can have confidence in their election results going forward.
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