Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Wednesday announced that he had referred three counties for investigation after they “failed to do their absentee ballot transfer forms in violation of Georgia Rules and Regulations.”
Raffensperger, in a press release, identified those three counties as Coffee, Grady, and Taylor. The three counties account for only 0.37 percent of all absentee ballots cast in last year’s election, he said.
The secretary of state also said 120 other counties in Georgia had absentee ballot drop boxes that month. He said he confirmed that those remaining 120 counties completed their ballot transfer documents.
Georgia has 159 counties.
The Georgia Star News on Wednesday asked Raffensperger’s staff if they could share actual ballot transfer forms from DeKalb County. DeKalb County officials have not provided chain of custody records for the movement of ballots from drop boxes to registrars, per an open records request. We also asked for the total number of absentee ballots accounted for in the previously mentioned 120 counties and what percentage of absentee ballots officials delivered from dropbox to registrar immediately — as emergency election code rule requires?
Raffensperger spokesman Ari Schaffer, however, said he could not answer.
“You will have to get those documents through open records requests from the counties,” Schaffer said in an email.
“We just confirmed with the relevant counties that they had them. We don’t have the documents here.”
Members of the State Election Board, by emergency rule and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, permitted the absentee ballot drop boxes. The emergency rule required counties with drop boxes to fill out ballot transfer forms that included the date, time, location, and number of ballots in the drop boxes whenever election officials collected ballots from the drop box.
Chain of Custody Documents
As reported last month, state and county officials failed to produce chain of custody documents for an estimated 404,691 vote-by-mail absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes and subsequently delivered to county registrars. On Thursday, The Star News reported that as of April 6 state and county officials have now failed to produce chain of custody documents for an estimated 355,918 vote-by-mail absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes.
On Wednesday The Star News told staff for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr that several county officials had failed to respond to our open records requests for copies of their November 3 ballot transfer forms. We asked whether the state’s absentee ballot transfer forms are subject to the state’s Open Records Act and whether those officials have three business days to respond.
Carr’s staff, however, had not responded to our request for comment before Wednesday’s stated deadline.
As reported Wednesday, former U.S. President Donald Trump lamented that Georgia’s new voter integrity law, SB 202, did not go further, as it had in its original form.
“It is now reported that chain of custody records for over 400,000 Absentee Ballots are missing or not being shown. I wonder why? Show them now!” Trump said in a written statement.
“The Democrats in Georgia really push the Republicans around, like the so-called Consent Decree, which was illegally signed by the Secretary of State without Legislative Approval—a Democrat DREAM. Boycott all of the woke companies that don’t want Voter I.D. and Free and Fair Elections.”
Fewer than 12,000 votes determined the outcome of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election outcome. That was about two percent of the 600,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes and delivered to county registrars where they were counted.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]