Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan blocked a key integrity measure of unsealing election ballots right before the Georgia Senate adjourned sine die on Monday, according to a press release from VoterGA.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit election integrity organization’s co-founder Garland Favorito detailed that Duncan’s subversive actions regarding SB89 were at the request of Kemp.
“Our volunteers were in touch with a variety of Brian Kemp’s policy people throughout the day on sine die. We emphasized how important SB89 is to the voters and the governor’s re-election. We noted that it is a win-win situation for everyone. We explained he only needed to call his good friend Geoff Duncan to ensure that SB89 got a vote. It is now clear that Kemp asked Duncan to block this key election integrity bill that would have been passed unanimously by Georgia’s Republican Senators.”
As President of the Georgia Senate, “Duncan prevented the Senate from confirming House changes to SB89 which included language to unseal Georgia election ballots and improve ballot chain-of-custody procedures,” stated Favorito.
Duncan “used dubious measures,” calls out Favorito about Duncan’s actions on the Senate floor on the final day of session. Duncan challenged his out-of-order ruling on the motion to vote, repeatedly refused to recognize the Senate President Pro Tem who, by the 2021-22 rules of the Georgia Senate, has recognition priority and called for a 10-minute recess that turned into nearly 37 minutes after taking personal privilege for a 17-minute farewell speech surrounded by his family.
Elected as Lt. Governor in 2018, Duncan has announced that he is not seeking re-election. The known critic of 45th President Donald Trump has, instead, started a group called GOP 2.0 for “a better way forward,” The Georgia Star News reported.
According to Favorito, “SB89 had the support of Republican House and Senate majorities including the Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller, who carried the bill.”
The broad support for the legislation is evidenced by the House passing SB89 on Monday with a vote of 96 to 69 with 6 not voting.
“There is no rational opposition against making ballots public since election officials retain custody of them during copying or inspections and can impose a reasonable charge for time expended under Open Records Request law,” Favorito concludes.
The provision for unsealing ballots came from HB933, a bipartisan piece of legislation that was “just a one-minute vote away from passage into law when Duncan blocked it,” Favorito says.
But, the Senate Ethics Committee in the March 29 meeting, as CNN reported, had already “gutted” and “stripped” most of the House-approved provisions that would have given the Georgia Bureau of Investigations the authority to conduct election fraud probes instead of the Secretary of State’s office and limited third-party funding of elections like the $300 million in “Zuckerbucks” used in the 2020 election in addition to unsealing the ballots.
The only remaining provision in HB1464 was expanding the two hours’ leave that an employer must grant an employee who is registered to vote from just Election Day to one of the days designated for advance in-person voting.
When the bill that had been cut down to only two pages advanced to the Senate Rules Committee, a key meeting was cancelled to keep the legislation there when the Senate adjourned sine die.
In 2021, Georgia’s legislature made ballot images public records, but not the original ballots.
A statewide analysis by VoterGA over the course of a year found it impossible to use ballot images to verify the 2020 election results.
A 15-point analysis produced by VoterGA revealed that there was electronic tampering of over 500,000 ballot images prior to certification.
VoterGA also exposed that 74 of Georgia’s counties could not produce images for more than 1 million ballots cast in the 2020 election, The Star News reported, despite federal election law that requires retention of all election-related materials for 21 months after an election.
In a video dated April 1, Favorito warned his fellow Georgians, “Voters, if you’re paying attention, you can see this is all a façade. You may think we have a representative democracy, but remember I told you it’s a dictatorship.”
“As for Brian Kemp’s anti-election integrity team, at least Fair Fight tweeted that they’re happy with you,” and wished Kemp luck in getting them to vote for him.
📢GEORGIA! Because you made your voices heard, we are one step closer to defeating GA Republicans’ anti-voting proposals.
— Fair Fight (@fairfightaction) March 30, 2022
Favorito, who said he was wearing black to commemorate the destruction of the democratic republic, alluded to the date of the video as he took a shot at those who killed the election integrity measures.
“Georgians are surrounded by April fools who are trying to control the gold dome,” referencing the nickname of Georgia’s capital building.
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Star News Network, where she covers stories for The Georgia Star News and The Tennessee Star.
Photo “Geoff Duncan” by Geoff Duncan.