The way we cast our ballots matters. Some methods are not secure. Some methods are overly complicated. Some methods are not transparent. Any of these shortcomings is enough to undermine public confidence in the outcomes of our elections – and thus undermine our democracy itself.
Voting by mail suffers from every one of those shortcomings. In 2020, the avalanche of nonprofit monies used to turn urban election offices into partisan turnout centers identified and exacerbated these flaws and the impact of legal violations.
A review of transfer forms provided to The Georgia Star News in response to an open records request reveals that the Secretary of State’s office in Georgia is missing chain of custody documents for 6,995 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes in Fulton County during the November 2020 election.
The number of absentee ballots for which the office has no evidence of the origination of the ballots represents 9 percent of the 79,460 total that Fulton County has recorded as being deposited into drop boxes during the more than month-long early voting and election day period.
43,907 of the 61,731 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes in the November 2020 presidential election in DeKalb County, Georgia–72 percent–were counted in official tallies certified by the county and the state, despite violating chain of custody requirements set forward in Georgia Emergency Rule 183-1-14-1.8-.14 promulgated by the Georgia State Election Board at its July 1, 2020, meeting.
That rule states absentee ballots placed in drop boxes, “shall be immediately transported to the county registrar” by the two person collection team, which is required to sign a ballot transfer form indicating the number of ballots picked up, the time the ballots were picked up, and the location of the drop box, and that, “The county registrar or a designee thereof shall sign the ballot transfer form upon receipt of the ballots from the collection team.”
Taxpayer-funded National Public Radio (NPR) spread 2020 election misinformation about absentee ballot drop box chain of custody documents in Georgia in an article written by Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) political reporter Stephen Fowler published on Friday. That article was the basis for a four-minute segment broadcast across NPR’s national network Friday afternoon.
The NPR Politics Twitter account tweeted the story, titled “How Pro-Trump Local News Sites Keep Pushing 2020 Election Misinformation,” out on Friday.
An interview between The Georgia Star News and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) News revealed that they had received Fulton County’s drop box absentee ballot transfer forms from the Secretary of State’s office in April. GPB News, however, did not report on their findings until after The Star News report in June.
Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) News requested an interview with John Fredericks, which also included Laura Baigert, of The Georgia Star News, as part of his fact-check for a story and to get comments from everyone involved.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Monday that a thorough investigation will be conducted of Fulton County’s inability to produce the critical chain of custody documents for absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes during the November 3, 2020 election.
Raffensperger made his announcement via Twitter, following the lead story Monday in The Georgia Star News that a Fulton County election official admitted that chain of custody documents are missing for absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes in the 2020 election.
Tennessee’s absentee ballots will have a watermark, starting in elections in 2022.
Gov. Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 1315, the Tennessee Election Integrity Act, which was passed by the Tennessee Legislature last month and will put an approved watermark on all absentee ballots with the goal of providing more security to the election process.
The watermark does not apply to military electronic absentee ballots, which are not printed onto paper. Local election authorities will be required to dispose of previously purchased ballot paper at the end of 2021.
Six months after the November 3, 2020 election, Fulton County has failed to produce complete chain of custody documents for 18,901 vote-by-mail absentee ballots deposited by voters into drop boxes.
The Fulton County missing documentation is a little more than five percent of the estimated 333,000 vote-by-mail absentee ballots cast in the November 3, 2020 general election for which chain of custody documentation is still missing.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has refused to collect, count, and verify the chain of custody documentation associated with an estimated 600,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes in the 2020 general election. Instead, Raffensperger has said it is a county responsibility. The Georgia Star News has filed Open Records Requests with all 159 counties in the state to obtain this documentation and report on it to the public.
Six months after the November 3, 2020 presidential election, officials at the state and county level in Georgia have failed to produce chain of custody records for more than 333,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes located around the state for that election. Joe Biden was certified…