With Georgia Runoff Elections Less Than a Month Away, Neither the State Nor the Counties Have Produced Chain of Custody Records for 500,000 Absentee Ballots Placed in Drop Boxes for November 3 Election

 

The two U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia will be held on January 5, less than one month from now.

But more than one month after the controversial November 3 general election, documents necessary to establish the chain of custody for more than 83 percent of the estimated 600,000 absentee ballots placed in drop boxes by voters and subsequently delivered to county election officials by county poll workers have yet to be produced by either state or county officials.

As previously reported, the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Breitbart News two weeks after the November 3 election that it did not know how many of the 1.3 million absentee ballots cast in the 2020 general election (out of 5 million total) were delivered by mail vs. drop box, but the counties should know.

Last week, 26 percent of respondents to a poll conducted of likely voters in Georgia by John McLaughlin and Associates said that they voted by absentee ballot – 14 percent by mail and 12 percent by depositing their absentee ballots in drop boxes. Twelve percent of the 5 million votes cast equals 600,000 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes.

According to the Georgia Election Code Emergency Rule approved by State Election Board on July 1, 2020, every county is responsible for documenting the transfer of every batch of absentee ballots picked up at drop boxes and delivered to the county election offices with ballot transfer forms, signed, dated, with time of pick up by the collection team upon pick up, and then signed, dated, with time of delivery by the registrar or designee upon receipt and accepted.

Over the past 10 days, The Georgia Star News sent Open Records Requests for ballot transfer forms to 77 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

Four counties – including Bartow County (4,909), Cobb County (89,445), Clarke County (4,909), and Cook County (265) – complied with the records requests and provided those transfer forms.

The number of absentee ballots delivered from drop boxes in Cobb County was a little more than 89,000. The combined number of absentee ballots delivered from the other three counties was just over 10,000. All told, county election officials have made no more than 100,000 of the estimated 600,000 absentee ballots placed in drop boxes – or 16.6 percent – available to the public for review and inspection.

As The Star News reported, a preliminary review of the ballot transfer forms provided by Cobb County indicate there were problems in that county documenting the chain of custody in the way the Emergency Rule specified.

Ten counties – Appling, Atkinson, Burke, Candler, Charlton, Chattooga, Dade, Haralson, Heard, and Glascock – complied with The Star News’ request and said they did not have drop boxes.

Dade County officials said they “didn’t transfer any ballots,” and utilized their board of elections location for an outlet to drop off absentee ballots.

Fulton, Gwinnett, and DeKalb have replied to The Star News requests with brief statements that they are investigating whether or not they have responsive records and that they they anticipate they will have a response some time in the future.

For Gwinnett, the future is within two weeks. For DeKalb the future is within 30 days.

Fulton County stated: “We believe we can have responsive records to you by January 19, 2021. That said, should responsive materials come available sooner, we will provide them to you.”

January 19 is two weeks after the Georgia January 5 runoff will take place – one day before Presidential Inauguration Day.

A total of 60 counties have not responded as of press time.

DeKalb County’s response, received from Assistant County Attorney at DeKalb County Dexter Q. Bond, Jr., stated, “it has not yet been determined if responsive records to your request exist.”

The Georgia Star News reported:

Throughout the state, approximately 300 drop boxes were used to collect absentee ballots in the November 2020 general election, authorized under Georgia Election Code Emergency Rule 183-1-14-0.8-.14 passed in July 2020 which states that every absentee ballot drop box collection team “shall complete and sign a ballot transfer form upon removing the ballots from the drop box, which shall include the date, time, location and number of ballots.

The “ballot transfer forms” are a part of the new rule and were created in order to document the chain of custody of ballots collected from drop boxes.

The code also requires that “the ballots from the drop box shall be immediately transported to the county registrar and processed and stored in the same manner as absentee ballots returned by mail are processed and stored. The county registrar or a designee thereof shall sign the ballot transfer form upon receipt of the ballots from the collection team.

More than one month after the November 3 election, the state and the counties have failed to produce documentation to provide a chain of custody for 500,000 of the estimated 600,000 absentee ballots placed in drop boxes by voters.

At present, there appears to be no indication that either Secretary of State Raffensperger, the State Election Board, Governor Kemp, or the Georgia General Assembly plan to take any actions to avoid a repeat of this failure to provide chain of custody documents for absentee ballots placed in drop boxes prior to the January 5, 2021 U.S. Senate runoff elections in the state.

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Tiffany Morgan is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Email tips to tiffbamorgan@gmail.com.
Photo “Cobb County Drop Box” by Cobb County.

 

 

 

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3 Thoughts to “With Georgia Runoff Elections Less Than a Month Away, Neither the State Nor the Counties Have Produced Chain of Custody Records for 500,000 Absentee Ballots Placed in Drop Boxes for November 3 Election”

  1. […] The Georgia Star News noted that the Georgia Election Code Emergency Rule mandates that every county is responsible for documenting the transfer of absentee ballots picked up at drop boxes. […]

  2. […] The Georgia Star News noted that the Georgia Election Code Emergency Rule mandates that every county is responsible for documenting the transfer of absentee ballots picked up at drop boxes. […]

  3. […] El Georgia Star News señaló que la Regla de Emergencia del Código Electoral de Georgia exige que cada condado sea responsable de documentar la transferencia de las boletas de voto ausente recogidas en buzones. […]

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