A Fulton County elections report revealed extensive problems occurred with chain of custody and absentee ballot processing during the general election. The State Election Board contracted Seven Hills Strategies (SHS) to monitor Fulton County from its pre-electoral processes through the recent runoffs. An SHS monitor synthesized 270 hours of observation into a 14-page report, published last month. The monitor was careful to emphasize that they didn’t witness any fraudulent activity such as ballot stuff or double-counting.
In addition to multiple reports of absentee ballots sent to incorrect addresses, the monitor reported that the absentee ballot processing was “extremely sloppy” and rife with chain of custody issues. The monitor cited one example of the headquarter building functioning as both the additional voter verification area and a holding room for ballots between the mail room and another processing room. The monitor stated that it witnessed staff members attempting to move unverified absentee ballots into a stack headed for State Farm Arena to be scanned and counted.
The Fulton County Registration and Elections Board fired its elections director, Richard Barron, during a special meeting on Tuesday. Barron had served the role since 2013.
Members of the public and the board in favor of firing Barron cited a variety of issues concerning the events at State Farm Arena, chain of custody, rejected ballots, record-keeping, security of ballot transportation, and the dismissal of whistleblowers such as Bridget Thorne. In December, The Georgia Star News interviewed Thorne about her affidavit and subsequent dismissal by the elections officials.
Chief Judge Brian Amero filed a temporary injunction ordering Fulton County to preserve their general election mail-in ballots. Plaintiffs in the case organized by Voters Organized for Trusted Election Results in Georgia (VoterGA) had hoped to obtain an order from this hearing allowing them to conduct a forensic inspection of the county’s mail-in ballots. The hearing took place virtually at 4 p.m. EST with Henry County Superior Court. Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron was present on the line; the other election board members didn’t attend the hearing.
Attorneys from the Cheeley Law Group represented the plaintiffs. Their contentions concerned the events from State Farm Arena on November 3rd after 10:30 p.m. EST. Multiple reports noted that poll workers and media were informed that vote counting was finished for the night, and that they should leave. They requested to share the video evidence from that night with the court, but Amero declined.