No Chain of Custody Documents in Georgia for 465,000 Drop Box Absentee Ballots Six Weeks After November 3 Election

 

With Georgia’s U.S. runoff election just three weeks from now, there are still no publicly available chain of custody documents 465,000 drop box absentee ballots counted six weeks ago in the state’s  November 3 general election.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified that Democrat Joe Biden received slightly less than 12,000 more votes than Donald Trump in that election. As a result of that certification, Biden received all 16 votes cast by Democrat electors when the Electoral College convened in the 50 state capitals on Monday.

In the five days since The Georgia Star News reported that no chain of custody documents were publicly available for 500,000 drop box absentee ballots counted in the November 3 general election, the 159 counties in the state have made little progress in narrowing that statewide drop box absentee ballot chain of custody gap, and the Secretary of State has shown no interest in providing any assistance in narrowing that gap.

As The Star News reported last week:

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.

From December 1 to December 13, The Star News sent Open Records Requests for ballot transfer forms to all of Georgia’s 159 counties.

  • 22 counties have responded with records of the ballot transfer forms.
  • 25 counties – Appling, Atkinson, Burke, Candler, Charlton, Chattooga, Dade, Effingham, Emanual, Glascock, Haralson, Heard, Jenkins, Macon, Meriwether, Miller, Randolph, Stewart, Talliaferro, Treutlen, Twiggs, Warren, Webster, Wilcox and Wilkinson – responded and said they do not have any drop box locations.
  • 3 counties–Fulton, Gwinnett, and DeKalb–have responded by saying they don’t know if they have documents responsive to the Open Records Request, but will provide an answer to that question at some time in the near future. In the case of Fulton County, that time in the near future could be as late as January 19, 2021.
  • 109 counties have not responded to the request.

With 22 counties out of 159 in the state responding to The Star News Open Records Requests, chain of custody documents are now publicly available for just 134,471 of the 600,000 absentee ballots placed in drop boxes during the November 3, election, a mere 22 percent. A total of 78 percent of these absentee ballots, or 465,529, have no publicly available chain of custody documents.

Here are the total absentee ballot drop box numbers accounted for by the ballot transfer forms made public in the 22 responding counties:

  • Bartow totals 4,909
  • Butts totals 481
  • Catoosa totals 532
  • Cherokee totals 17,033
  • Clarke totals 4,909
  • Cobb totals 89,860
  • Colquitt totals 571
  • Cook totals 530
  • Decatur totals 963
  • Dougherty totals 3,793
  • Lincoln totals 513
  • McDuffie totals 738
  • Murray totals 162
  • Oconee totals 3,016
  • Pierce totals 444
  • Pike totals 495
  • Rabun totals 1,163
  • Schley totals 64
  • Tattnall totals 282
  • Telfair totals 401
  • Walton totals 3,198
  • White totals 414

At present there is no indication that either Secretary of State Raffensperger or the State Election Board plan on taking any action that will provide more timely public availability of the chain of custody documents from absentee ballots placed in drop boxes during the January 5 U.S. Senate runoff elections.

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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 “Absentee Drop Box” by Georgia Voter Guide.

 

 

 

 

 

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