A review of drop box ballot transfer forms reveals that Cobb County violated the Rules of the State Election Board for Absentee Voting that requires absentee ballots from drop box locations be “immediately transported” to the county registrar.
Specifically, the Rule of the State Election Board of the Georgia Election Code Chapter 183-1 for Absentee Voting states, “The ballots from the drop box shall be immediately transported to the county registrar and processed and stored in the same manner as absentee ballots returned by mail are processed and stored.”
The definition of “immediately” is “without delay or intervention; at once; instantly,” according to thefreedictionary.com.
Yet, in some cases, absentee ballots collected from ballot drop boxes placed in 16 locations around Cobb County were not transported for hours and sometimes not for days after being collected from the drop box.
This, according to copies of 400 Drop Box Ballot Transfer forms provided to The Georgia Star News by the Cobb County Election Director in response to an open records request, after initially not producing documentation for more than 89,000 absentee ballots delivered from drop boxes.
Other open records requests were also made by The Star News to Georgia’s DeKalb County, Gwinnett County, and Fulton County.
As reported, DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney responded Friday instead of the election offices to the request, saying that they did not know if the records exist that document the critical chain of custody for absentee ballots exist.
Gwinnett County advises they are working on locating the forms but has not produced them yet, and Fulton County has not even responded to The Star’s requests.
The Drop Box Ballot Transfer Form used for the Transfer of Absentee Ballots serves as part of the critical chain of custody.
Included on the forms is the location, date and time of collection of the absentee ballots from the drop box, the number of absentee ballots, the collection team who “surrender” the absentee ballots to the registrar, as well as the name and signature of the registrar or designee receiving the absentee ballots and the time of the transfer of the ballots.
Very telling is that, in keeping with the requirement for absentee ballots from drop boxes being “immediately transported,” there is no separate date line for the time of transfer from the collection team to the county registrar, indicating that the transfer at the very least must take place on the same day.
In addition to other stipulations, the rules also require that the collection of ballots from a drop box must be made by a team of two people that have sworn an oath in the same form as the oath for poll officers set forth in O.C.G.A. 21-2-95.
In reviewing the Cobb County drop box ballot transfer forms, received by The Star News in five separate files, it appears that during the early voting period of September 18 to November 2, there were four, two-person teams that made the collections from the 16 drop box locations.
The team members, at least one of whom remained constant throughout the period, are identified only by using their initials.
Team 1 – C.R. and D.R. or O.A.
Team 2 – W.S. and S.C. or J.W.
Team 3 – J.T. and A.T.
Team 4 – N.D. and C.S. or M.T. or D.M. or C.D.
Teams 2, 3 and 4 for the most part made a similar route each time, covering multiple drop box locations for each run.
As for the role of the registrar or designee, forms were signed by one of three different individuals: C.R., S.P., and J.M.
The C.R. that signed as the registrar in many instances, is the same C.R. that was part of collections Team 1. However, C.R. did not sign any of the drop box ballot transfer forms as the registrar when acting as a member of collection Team 1.
Rather noticeable on review was the fact that rather than immediately transporting absentee ballots from the drop boxes to the country registrar, the collections from multiple boxes per run – sometimes covering all 16 locations – necessitated several hours between the team’s first collection location and the transfer of the ballots to the registrar.
A far cry from “immediately transported,” the total time between collection of absentee ballots from a drop box and transfer to the registrar ranged from 1 hour and 30 minutes to as much as 7 hours and 15 minutes.
That’s when the collection and transfer of drop box absentee ballots actually occurred on the same day.
However, there were at least 6 separate instances involving a total of more than 1,800 ballots when Team 4 collections were not officially transferred to the registrar until the next day.
Even more egregious, one collection by Team 4 of 227 drop box absentee ballots was transferred 2 days later and another collection by Team 4 of 274 ballots was transferred 3 days later.
Another three collections by Team 4 totaling over 800 drop box absentee ballots had no record of a.m. or p.m. to determine the number of hours or days between collection and transfer to the registrar.
All of the Team 4 drop box ballot transfer forms were signed by S.P. as the registrar or registrar’s designee.
Other anomalies revealed in the audit of the drop box ballot transfer forms included at least one instance of:
– No signature and name of the registrar or designee at the time the drop box absentee ballots were surrendered by the collections team
– No “transfer time” of the drop box ballots from the collection team to the registrar or designee
– No collection time of the absentee ballots from the drop box by the collections team
– No closing seal number at the registrar when the drop box ballots were transferred
Data from Cobb County election officials indicates that 89,445 absentee ballots were submitted via drop box, the vast majority of which were in violation of Georgia Election Code by not being “immediately transported” from the drop box to the county registrar.
Just 11,928 votes separate President Donald Trump from Joe Biden in Georgia, according to unofficial election results in Georgia.
As The Star News reported, fraud-prone absentee ballot drop boxes will have cost Trump the election if Biden should win the state, according to a pollster.
View the Cobb County Ballot Drop Box Transfer Forms:
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.
Photo “Cobb County Drop Box Website Lookup” by Cobb County and “Cobb County Ballot Drop Box” is by Cobb County.
Editor’s note: Although the election workers’ full names are included on the Cobb County Ballot Drop Box Transfer Forms, only the first and last initials are used in this article.