A Georgia judge decided Friday to unseal nearly 150,000 absentee ballots in Fulton County, the state’s most populous county, so that prosecutors could look for proof of suspected voter fraud.
What are the specifics?
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero is authorising more than 145,000 absentee ballots from the 2020 presidential election to be reviewed as part of the investigation.
The precise aspects of the audit are still being worked out, but Amero has confirmed that the ballots will remain in the hands of Fulton County election officials as the audit is carried out.
The Journal-Constitution has more:
The ruling was made in response to a complaint brought by nine claimants, including Garland Favorito, a Fulton county resident and self-styled election watchdog. It’s one of hundreds of cases stemming from the November presidential election and the January Senate runoff, some of which are now making their way through the courts.
Since the results of the 2020 presidential election in Fulton County were approved months ago, the audit cannot alter them.
The Journal-Constitution announced that “plaintiffs hope an audit of ballots will get to the bottom of what they see as irregular activities at State Farm Arena on election night and pave the way for more credible elections in the future.”
Georgia state and local authorities have said several times that there is no proof of systematic voter irregularities in the race.
What was the response?
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who has refuted Donald Trump’s allegations that Georgia’s election was marred by voter irregularities, has said he respects the judge’s ruling.
Raffensperger cited “a longstanding tradition of election mismanagement” in Fulton County in a tweet.
“From the beginning, I have urged Georgians who have genuine questions about the election in their counties to seek those concerns across legal channels,” Raffensperger said. “Fulton County has a long tradition of election mismanagement, which has understandably eroded voters’ confidence in the scheme. Allowing this audit adds another degree of accountability and public participation.”
Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts (D), on the other hand, slammed the decision.
“It is outrageous that Fulton County is now being used as a target for those who refuse to consider the outcome of last year’s election,” Pitts said.
“The ballots have been counted three times, including a hand recount,” Pitts added, “and no proof of bribery has been identified.” “The truth remains that Fulton County had an election in the middle of a public health pandemic in a clean and stable manner. It’s a shame that the ‘Big Lie’ continues on and can cost the county’s hardworking people.”