Georgia Election Official Admits Chain of Custody Docs Are Missing for 2020 Absentee Ballots

A Fulton County election official has admitted in writing that “a few” chain of custody documents are missing for thousands of absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes in the November 3, 2020 election in Georgia. According to The Georgia Star News’ analysis, however, the county has lost more than “a few” transfer forms—the news outlet puts the number at 385, representing 18,901 votes, or about 25 percent of the absentee ballots cast in Fulton County in the 2020 election.

The total number of absentee ballots whose chain of custody was purportedly documented in these 385 missing Fulton County absentee ballot transfer forms was 18,901, more than 6,000 votes greater than the less than 12,000 vote margin of Biden’s certified victory in the state.

 

The forms in question “document the chain of custody of absentee ballots placed by voters into 37 drop boxes installed through Fulton County over the 41-day November 2020 presidential election period that began on September 24 and ended on November 3, election day,” the Star News reported.

The admission came as a response to the Star News’ follow-up to Fulton County’s incomplete responses to the news outlet’s Open Records Requests for the transfer forms.

The Star News made its initial open records request to Fulton County election officials in December 2020 and has made subsequent follow-up requests to obtain all of the transfer forms.

Fulton County officials have reportedly missed two April deadlines to provide documents for absentee mail in ballots to the news outlet.

The absentee ballots are at the center of a lawsuit filed by Garland Favorito and eight other Georgia residents, who have sued Fulton County to produce an estimated 145,000 absentee ballots for a forensic audit. As American Greatness reported last week, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero ruled in May that the review of the ballots could proceed after reading a number of compelling sworn affidavits submitted by election monitors.

Fulton County retained criminal defense lawyers from the Atlanta law firm Garland, Samuel and Loeb to convince Amero to reconsider his order. After the law firm filed its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Judge Amero put the audit on hold, and scheduled a hearing on June 21 to hear Fulton County’s attorneys argue why the review of ballot images should not be allowed.

According to the Star News, “an estimated 145,000 absentee ballots – between 75,000 and 78,000 of which were originally deposited in drop boxes and between 67,000 and 70,000 of which were sent via the United States Postal Service – were transferred from the centralized counting facility at the State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta to the EPC [the Election Preparation Center warehouse located at 1365 English St. NW, Atlanta] at some point after the counting of votes for the November 3 election was completed.”

In February, Fulton County responded to the Star News’ Open Records request by providing two PDF files showing ballot transfer form records for 36,635 absentee votes by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes, which was significantly less than what was expected for the county.

The Star News followed up with Fulton County, by alerting them to the incomplete records.

In early May, Fulton County responded by providing a thumb drive they said included a re-scan all of the documents from their first attempt plus those that were missing.

The thumb drive contained 30 files of drop box transfer forms, and also also included a spreadsheet that Fulton County used to document the number of absentee ballots and the ballot applications collected from the 37 drop boxes over the 41-day voting period. According to that spreadsheet, those 30 files should have contained 1,565 drop box transfer forms.

The Star News’s detailed analysis of the files provided by Fulton County revealed that they included only 1,180 drop box transfer forms provided chain of custody documents for 59,042 absentee ballots placed into drop boxes.

Yet, the Fulton County spreadsheet showed that about 79,000 absentee ballots were collected from drop boxes (When a mathematical error in the Fulton County spreadsheet that double counted a number of votes is corrected, the total number of absentee ballots Fulton County says were collected from drop boxes is about 75,000.)

On May 17, The Star News notified Fulton County via email that transfer forms for about 25 percent of the absentee ballots placed into drop boxes where chain of custody documentation in the form of 385 drop box transfer forms were still missing.

That email to Fulton County led to their stunning admission finally on June 9, that they had misplaced the important forms.

As we review the documents provided to you and our daily log. We noticed that a few forms are missing, 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.

Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Mariska Bodison

Registration & Elections

According to the news outlet, “this is the first time that any election official at either the state or county level from a key battleground state has made an admission of significant error in election procedures for the November 3, 2020 election.”

Transfer forms are required to accompany absentee ballots per the State Election Board Emergency Rule 83-1-14-0.8-.14. The State Election Board imposed the rule on July 1, 2020, to document the critical chain of custody of absentee ballots collected from drop boxes and transferred to the county registrar.

Also, Bodison’s claim that the documents were misplaced during the COVID-19 outbreak at the EPC doesn’t match media reports from the time.

While there was a COVID-19 outbreak at the Fulton County Elections Preparation Center (EPC), where 13 of 60 employees tested positive between October 13 and 15, according to Fox 5 Atlanta, county officials reassured reporters that there was “no disruption to the work.”

Moreover, according to the Star News, there were at least five full days – October 7, 9, 10, 11 and 20 – for which no transfer forms were provided, and “four of those dates were before the COVID-19 quarantine cited by the Fulton County election official as the cause for the ‘misplaced paperwork.’”

Georgia’s Secretary of State has shown little interest in examining absentee ballot irregularities in the state’s largest counties, and has instead focused his energy on three small counties.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has taken no action in 156 of Georgia’s 159 counties to secure copies of any absentee ballot drop box transfer forms and review them for accuracy and consistency with reported absentee ballot vote counts. In April his office announced investigations into three small counties that “failed to do their absentee ballot transfer forms” in the November 2020 election in compliance with rules and regulations.

More than seven months after the November 3 election, 28 Georgia counties have failed to respond at all to The Star News Open Records Requests to produce absentee ballot drop box transfer forms. To date, The Star News has obtained absentee ballot drop box forms from 59 counties that provide chain of custody documentation for 266,492 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes during the November 3, 2020 election, which means that no chain of custody documentation has been produced for about 333,000 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes out of an estimated 600,000 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes during that election.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Raffensperger was censured by the Georgia GOP convention for “dereliction of his Constitutional duty.” That dereliction of duty included: “Undermining the security of our elections by allowing mass mailings of absentee applications by his office and third parties which created opportunities for fraud and overwhelmed election offices; rendering accurate signature matching nearly impossible; allowing ballot drop boxes without proper chain of custody; and ignoring sworn affidavits and disregarding evidence of voter fraud.”

Matt Braynard, the Executive Director of Look Ahead America, reported in April that his team had been able to evaluate three tranches of ballots out of six tranches from the Georgia election that had been identified as containing illegal ballots. Due to the limitations of time, budget, and the inability to access necessary government databases, they were only allowed to examine the first three tranches.

Tranche 1: Early and Absentee Ballots Cast In the Names of Voters (EABCINV) registered illegally.

Tranche 2: EABCINV matched to permanent, out-of-state moves in the National Change of Address Database (NCOA). At the time we processed this match in mid-November, the database contained records as recent as October 1, 2020 to as far back as three years prior (October 1, 2017).

Tranche 3: EABCINV matched to Out of State Subsequent Registrations (OOSSR) using our national voter database (NVD). In these cases, the voter had registered in Georgia and matched to voters subsequently registered in another state.

Tranche 4: Election Day Ballots Cast In the Names of Voters (EDBCINV) registered illegally.

Tranche 5: EDBCINV matched to the NCOA and OOSSR.

Tranche 6: Unmatchable Invalid Residencies Among EABCINV and EDBCINV.

In the first tranche his team identified 1,056 EABCINV/EBDCINV registered illegally. They found 15,000 illegally cast votes in the second tranche, and 4,926 in the third tranche.

“We found that the number of illegal ballots beyond a reasonable doubt surpassed the margin of victory,” Braynard told Steve Bannon in April. He also told Bannon that he believed he would get similar results in other battleground states, including Wisconsin, and Arizona.

Braynard added that the results will show that Joe Biden, the “winner of the presidential election and the occupant of the White House, may be illegitimate.”

His full report here.

Update:

Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger responded to The Georgia Star News’ bombshell report in a tweet Monday afternoon, claiming that the “new revelations will be investigated thoroughly,” even though Fulton County has been stonewalling on the docs since early March.

“Restoring confidence in our elections is going to be impossible as long as Fulton County’s elections leadership continues to fail the voters of Fulton County and the voters of Georgia. They need new leadership to step up and take charge,” Raffensperger wrote.

“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.”

 

 

 

About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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