Fulton County, Georgia, has been at the center of discussions around possible voter fraud since the conclusion of the 2020 general election. A new report now alleges that a batch of absentee ballots was inspected by employees of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger despite a protective order from a judge.
According to RealClear Investigations, state investigators “quietly broke the seal on one suspicious box and inspected the hundreds of votes it contained for signs of fraud” under the instruction of Frances Watson, the chief investigator for the secretary of state’s office.
The ballots in question were a central part of concerns surrounding the legitimacy of Fulton County’s vote in the 2020 election. As such, Superior Court Judge Brian Amero placed them under a protective order in January.
Nonetheless, Watson admitted she sent employees to inspect batches of sealed ballots earlier this year and said the investigators “didn’t find anything,” RCI reported.
VoterGA.org founder Garland Favorito, who is a veteran poll watcher in Georgia, said the state officials did not inform Amero that they inspected the sealed ballots. The watchdogs responsible for suing the state to inspect the ballots were also reportedly kept in the dark.
“If the secretary of state’s office did that, they tampered with the ballots and violated Georgia state law,” Favorito said. “They would have had to ask for a court order to unseal and inspect those ballots and they never did that.”
In an amicus brief filed in April, Raffensperger’s attorneys told Amero they opposed the idea of petitioners inspecting the same ballots because they felt it was a “fishing expedition.”
“The security and confidentiality of ballots is to be strictly maintained, and the court should be cautious in granting petitioners’ access to ballots that Georgia law requires to remain under seal, which makes it a felony as soon as petitioners were to lay hands on them,” the attorneys wrote in the brief.
If Raffensperger’s own employees unsealed and inspected these ballots, it is much more difficult to trust their suggestion of barring access to petitioners. RCI said the secretary of state’s office did not comment on why its probe of the suspicious ballots was not previously disclosed to the judge or the public.
The new development has raised concerns with election watchdogs about whether Raffensperger’s office may have tampered with the ballots. They feel that the investigators’ failure to inform the court about the probe is suspicious, and they certainly seem to have a point.
An outstanding lawsuit from these watchdogs seeks to grant them access to 147,000 absentee ballots cast in Fulton County during the 2020 election. Amero had ordered the ballots to be unsealed last month under special conditions, but a motion to dismiss a ballot inspection in the county has prolonged the case.
Meanwhile, RCI reported that veteran poll manager Suzi Voyles said she was pressured by state investigators to retract her original statement regarding suspicious ballots. She served as a whistleblower in November when she said some of the mail-in ballots she sorted through seemed too “pristine.”
“I felt I was under investigation,” Voyles said. She added that a man who identified himself as Paul Braun “grilled me for over two hours” in a Jan. 7 interview at the Georgia secretary of state’s office.
“I smelled a rat when they didn’t know the batch numbers when they were clearly denoted in my affidavit,” she said. “I did not recant. The ballots that I saw had been pre-printed. It’s a very serious thing in my opinion. That’s what I swore to under penalty of perjury. Recanting would be perjuring myself.”
Watson alleged that Voyles “stated that she may have been mistaken about the batch number and provided a different batch number,” RCI reported. However, Voyles insisted she never provided a second batch number.
While there is no great way to know what is accurate about Voyles’ account, it is clearly not a good look for the secretary of state’s office. Add that to the suspicious probe from Raffensperger’s investigators, and things start to smell quite fishy.
The new developments have also raised doubts for Favorito, who said attorneys for his group plan to file a motion to depose Watson and Braun so they can fully explain what was done to the ballots. He also said he trusts Voyles’ testimony.
“At no time has Susan Voyles claimed she was mistaken,” Favorito said. “She has consistently stood by her affidavit since she submitted it almost seven months ago.”
At the very least, Raffesnperger’s office seems to have engaged in some seriously suspicious behavior. There is no justifiable reason to secretly go through ballot boxes, especially given the concerns already circulating around the election in Fulton County.
Americans deserve to have full confidence in their elections, and actions like these provide just the opposite.
While there is no guarantee that major voter fraud occurred in Georgia, the possibility must be fully investigated to ensure the integrity of our elections.
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