Election Integrity Win in Georgia - Election Board Makes Big Decision

Election Integrity Win in Georgia - Election Board Makes Big Decision

The Georgia Election Board, in a 2-1 decision, voted on Tuesday to issue a reprimand to Fulton County concerning its management of the 2020 election and to direct the appointment of an independent monitor for oversight in the upcoming general election, as reported by the Georgia Recorder.

This decision came following investigations by the Georgia secretary of state’s office, which confirmed that Fulton County had double-scanned 3,075 ballots during a statewide recount of the 2020 presidential election. Additionally, a complaint raised concerns about 17,000 missing ballot images.

Although investigators determined that these errors would not have altered the overall outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia, where Democrat Joe Biden won over then-President Donald Trump by 11,779 votes, or approximately 0.3 percent of nearly 5 million cast ballots, they shed light on significant issues within Fulton County’s electoral process.

During the Election Board meeting, references were made to previous audits and reviews, including an independent audit published in January 2021 and a Performance Review Board assessment from January 2023, both of which identified significant irregularities in Fulton County’s ballot handling.

A complaint submitted by Georgia voter Joe Rossi, which alleged flaws in both the machine count and hand recount of the 2020 election, prompted further discussion during the meeting. Board member Janice Johnston raised questions about the double-scanned ballots, to which Charlene McGowan, general counsel for the Georgia secretary of state, responded that while they partially substantiated the existence of duplicate ballot images, the impact on tabulated results remained inconclusive.

Chairman John Fervier noted the different counts conducted in Georgia in 2020, including the machine recount and subsequent hand recount, which revealed a slight decrease in Biden’s margin of victory. McGowan suggested that if duplicate ballots were counted, they would have been detected during the hand recount.

Regarding the 17,000 missing ballot images, McGowan clarified that the physical paper ballots existed and attributed the discrepancy to a scanner programming error, which had been corrected.

Johnston expressed dissatisfaction with merely reprimanding Fulton County and advocated for referring the matter to the Attorney General, citing over 140 violations of election laws and rules.

Joe Rossi, present at the meeting, felt his concerns about the 2020 election had been validated, asserting that both the hand audit and certified machine count had violated Georgia election law.

The January 2021 independent audit highlighted numerous irregularities in Fulton County’s handling of ballots, particularly concerning chain of custody issues and the security of ballots during transport to State Farm Arena, the venue for vote counting.

A noteworthy incident on election night at State Farm Arena, where counting was temporarily halted and then resumed for nearly two additional hours, raised further concerns about transparency and integrity.

Ralph Jones, the Fulton County registration chief present at State Farm Arena that night, resigned in August 2021 amid criticism of the county’s election management. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had previously called for the dismissal of both Jones and county election director Rick Barron, who resigned in December 2021.

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