Fulton County election officials informed two whistleblowers that they were no longer eligible to work in the runoff election. Bridget Thorne and Susan Voyles each received a letter notifying them of their dismissal last week following their testimonies to the General Assembly.
Both women were dismissed suddenly and without notice, after having served without issue in previous elections for years.
Thorne testified in an affidavit that ballots weren’t handled securely at the State Farm Arena. She alleged that the “test ballots” that were printed for calibration purposes were “indistinguishable” from live ballots. She added that those ballots were stacked haphazardly, left unattended for long periods of time, and transported without proper security protocol. Thorne also testified that American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) personnel were serving as absentee ballot “clerks;” one of the ACLU clerks working that Thorne encountered allegedly used a personal laptop instead of the county-assigned laptop to access the voter roll database.
Thorne informed The Georgia Star News that she’d also been missing 400 emergency ballots. These are paper ballots that are used when issues arise, such as errors with the electronic voting systems. Precincts are required to have emergency ballots that would cover at least 10 percent of their registered voters.
“They sent 400 ballots to my precinct, but they were on yellow paper and said ‘sample’ across them,” explained Thorne. “When I called the warehouse to get the [correct emergency ballots], they said they couldn’t find them. After that, I called a [poll manager] friend and he was missing his as well.”
Additionally, Thorne told The Star that the entire election process was disorganized. She shared that she’d experienced serious organizational issues as early as the primaries. At one point, Thorne had to wait an entire week before confirming the totals for her ballot counts.
“The most important thing you can have as a manager is your ballot recap sheet. Let’s say you have 100 people check in on your poll pad,” stated Thorne. “Then you add all your votes, and then all the ballots that were scanned, and then all the ballots in the box. If there’s a discrepancy where your count falls short of 100, you have to be able to explain why. [Officials] told me in June when I was missing my ballot recap sheet that I could use my security form instead. But then they called me back and said I’d opened up a whole can of worms, and that I actually needed a ballot recap sheet – but we’d have to come back a week later to get it and sign it.”
Thorne added that Dominion Voting Systems (Dominion) workers had to run the warehouses because the usual warehouse workers were quarantined for COVID-19. She recounted how the delivery of election equipment was delayed in the county’s north precincts, with some of the equipment arriving between 7 pm and midnight the night before poll workers were expected to report to those precincts.
According to Thorne, the county plans on allowing individuals from the ACLU to work in the . Thorne told The Star that she learned ACLU individuals would manage provisional ballots during a manager training class prior to her firing.
Thorne stated that her dismissal was unexpected. She explained that she’d served as a poll worker for about 9 years, and had been asked by the county this year if she would be interested in instructing others prior to the general election. Thorne added that her daughter, also a poll worker, was dismissed without warning.
The other poll worker, Voyles, had testified that she’d counted absentee ballots that were in “pristine” condition – no folds, tears, or marks of any kind. She also alleged that those ballots appeared to have “unusually uniform” markings for votes, as if machine-printed rather than hand-marked. Voyles added that approximately 98 percent of those ballots were for Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Voyles was unable to issue further statements on the matter to The Star regarding her dismissal by press time.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recently said that he disagreed with Fulton County’s decision to remove Voyles and Thorne. Raffensperger’s response also accused the county of exacting retribution against the women for testifying.
Several days after Raffensperger issued his statement, Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer also issued a joint statement with Fulton County Commissioners Liz Hausmann, Bob Ellis, and Lee Morris, condemning the county election officials’ decision. The group called on Raffensperger to undertake further action to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
At the time of publication, Thorne told The Star that she hadn’t received any further responses from the county’s election officials.
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