More concerns have been raised about election irregularities in Fulton County, Georgia, where now-President Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump in the state was heavily bolstered in the Democratic-majority county.
Fulton County, which encompasses Atlanta, has been at the center of many claims of fraud made by the Trump camp and its emphatic allies, and while deliberate malfeasance has yet to be definitively determined, there is no denying that issues with how absentee ballots were counted and tracked were rampant in November 2020.
Amid ongoing probes into the county’s election process which have produced, among other things, the possibility that as many as 19,000 ballots could be unaccounted for — when Biden won the Peach State by less than 12,000 votes — Just the News recently issued a report detailing concerns raised over thousands of ballots that appeared to be, by some degree or another, improperly counted or tracked.
The outlet reported that it reviewed documents which included “handwritten tally sheets for all absentee ballots counted by the county” and “a private report from a contractor hired by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to monitor the Atlanta-area election process.”
“The report, which chronicled seven days of problems, recorded troubling behavior like the mysterious removal of a suitcase of sensitive election data known as polls pads, used to authenticate voters,” Just the News explained.
Raffensperger’s office reportedly collected documents from Fulton County during a risk-limiting audit conducted in November 2020 that revealed highly concerning issues, ranging from over 1,000 potentially missing absentee ballots to several batches of absentee votes with identical counts.
Just the News reported, “More than 100 batches of absentee ballots — each containing approximately 100 or more ballots — were assigned tracking numbers before being sent to one of the five absentee vote-counting machines in Fulton County but are not subsequently recorded in the handwritten logs showing which batches were scanned and counted, raising concerns the ballots may be missing.”
Meanwhile, the outlet noted that over two dozen batches of absentee ballots appear to have been scanned twice on the tally sheets, and many of the control sheets for several batches of absentee ballots reviewed during the state audit were missing information that would have confirmed they came from a secure container, raising concerns that they had been improperly stored or that several batches had been sealed in just one container.
Perhaps most alarming is that “[f]ive sequential batches of absentee votes each appeared with the exact same vote count of 392 for Biden, 96 for President Donald Trump, and 3 for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, a count that state officials admitted was a statistical impossibility.”
Since these reported identical vote tallies add up to nearly 2,000 votes for Biden in a state that he carried by just 11,779 votes, these errors certainly bolster the case of those calling for a forensic audit like the one that is wrapping up this week in Arizona.
A perhaps dubiously titled “fact-check” from Georgia Public Broadcasting countered concerns about potentially missing ballots, as well as Just the News’ findings later on Thursday, pointing to human error and mix-ups about when which ballots were tallied or tracked and by whom, in relation to a risk-limiting audit that was conducted following the 2020 election.
GPB asserted that that “there are more human explanations to the paperwork — as well as a reminder that the results of that audit were not certified and did not affect the initial or final counts of the election.”
Indeed, the results of the RLA did not impact the outcome of the election in Georgia, as such an audit is conducted merely to determine that the results were correct and not to verify the exact margin by which they were determined.
Fulton officials, who interestingly enough did not respond to Just the News’ request for comment but were available to give comments to GPB, said that due to the way that the results of the RLA were added to the county tally sheets, “it was not easy to see previous batches entered to ensure there was not duplication.”
GPB’s “gotcha” claim regarding the notes from the private report referenced by Just the News also falls rather flat.
The outlet triumphantly noted, “As for the notes from Seven Hills Strategies that suggest fraudulent activity, according to copies of the reports obtained by GPB News, the monitor found plenty of parts of the process that need improvement, but no evidence of fraud.”
Here’s the problem: Just the News didn’t claim the report suggested “fraudulent activity,” merely “significant irregularities.” I’d say an election process that was found to “need improvement” is a pretty big deal to begin with, and the central conclusion of Just the News’ notably less partisan report was essentially just this.
And while an official from the Georgia secretary of state’s office told Just the News that “some of the gaps in the absentee ballots might be explained by mistakes in which county officials mixed absentee ballots counted by one machine for another,” he also “acknowledged other gaps in ballot batches defy immediate explanation and would require extensive investigation to determine if something more nefarious than incompetence was at work,” in the outlet’s own words.
The major focus of GPB’s fact-check was a bombshell report earlier this week that there could be as many as 19,000 absentee ballots improperly accounted for, although the outlet merely repeated what Fulton County officials had said, which was that they had already located some of the transfer forms in question and were working to find the rest.
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.
— GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (@GaSecofState) June 14, 2021
Meanwhile, Raffensperger, who was a target of the efforts to scrutinize election results in 2020, maintains that the issues in Just the News’ report were not significant enough to influence the outcome of the election in Georgia, but he agrees that something must be done to address the rampant concerns in Fulton County.
“It is no secret that Fulton has had issues in their elections department for decades, which is why I insisted on a state monitor being present to be eyes and ears on the ground,” he told Just the News.
“He did not see any evidence of fraud despite having full access, but he saw continued mismanagement, miscommunication, unpreparedness, and sloppiness. Georgia voters deserve better.”
Meanwhile, Just the News noted that the documents it reviewed closely mirror the findings of a private audit examining absentee ballots that appear to be missing from proper documents or double- or even triple-counted conducted by a private team hired by lawyer Bob Cheeley under a judge’s supervision. Cheeley told Just the News that his findings point to “election tabulation malpractice.”
Say what you will about claims of election fraud, it is abundantly and glaringly clear that there were major issues with how absentee ballots were counted, tracked and subsequently audited in Fulton County, Georgia.
I don’t know about you, but I’m an Occam’s Razor type of gal, and the fact that we’re talking about Fulton County, where poll workers counting ballots at the State Farm Arena sent observers and reporters away on the evening of Nov. 3, only to resume counting ballots once these third parties were gone is highly, highly suspicious.
What are the odds that this was all done legitimately when there’s been ample evidence to suggest, at the very least, it was incredibly messy?
If all these highly concerning irregularities do not amount to clear evidence of fraud and a stolen election, they should amount to outrage and indignation after months of warnings ahead of the election that expanding absentee and mail-in balloting measures at the local level amid the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to exactly these types of issues were all dismissed as conspiracy theory and hoax.
Maybe Joe Biden was, in fact, the most popular presidential candidate in U.S. history, but if this is the case, we’re certainly still justified in wondering exactly how legitimate that victory was at this point since many concerns have not yet been assuaged. Either way, the people of Georgia, and the American people as a whole, deserve answers.
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