Chain of Custody Documentation Missing in Fulton County Impacting Nearly 19,000 Absentee Ballots


Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger acknowledged this week Fulton County has been unable to provide ballot chain of custody documentation related to drop boxes used in November’s election.

Nearly 19,000 absentee ballots are not accounted for with the proper paperwork, which exceeds President Joe Biden’s margin of victory in the Peach State by more than 6,000 votes.

“New revelations that Fulton County is unable to produce all ballot drop box transfer documents will be investigated thoroughly, as we have with other counties that failed to follow Georgia rules and regulations regarding drop boxes. This cannot continue,” Raffensperger tweeted Monday.

“Restoring confidence in our elections is going to be impossible as long as Fulton County’s elections leadership continues to fail the voters of Fulton County and the voters of Georgia. They need new leadership to step up and take charge,” he wrote.

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Fulton County, located in the Atlanta metropolitan area, is the state’s most populous county — home to over 100,000 people.

On Monday, The Georgia Star News’ Laura Baigert reported that a Fulton County election official told the outlet “a few forms are missing” and that “some procedural paperwork may have been misplaced.”

However, “A Star News analysis of drop box ballot transfer forms for absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes provided by Fulton County in response to an Open Records Request showed that 385 transfer forms out of an estimated 1,565 transfer forms Fulton County said should have been provided are missing — a number that is significantly greater than ‘a few’ by any objective standard.”

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Baigert noted the number of ballots in question exceeds Biden’s margin of victory of 11,779 votes (0.24 percent) over former President Donald Trump.

“The total number of absentee ballots whose chain of custody was purportedly documented in these 385 missing Fulton County absentee ballot transfer forms was 18,901, more than 6,000 votes greater than the less than 12,000 vote margin of Biden’s certified victory in the state,” she wrote.

“The admission of missing chain of custody documents came as a response to The Star News follow-up to Fulton County’s incomplete responses to Open Records Requests for the transfer forms that document the chain of custody of absentee ballots placed by voters into 37 drop boxes installed through Fulton County over the 41-day November 2020 presidential election period that began on September 24 and ended on November 3, election day,” Biagert added.

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In an email to The Star News, the county stated the missing documentation is likely the result of “25 plus core personnel [that] were quarantined due to positive COVID-19 outbreak at the [Elections Preparation Center].”

The Hill reported that Fulton County spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said in a Tuesday statement, “We maintain a large quantity of documents and are researching our files from last year.”

“The majority of the ballot transfer forms have already been produced and we are continuing to research a handful,” she added.

Trump responded to these revelations concerning the missing chain of custody documentation in a Thursday statement, saying, “Thank you and congratulations to Laura Baigert of the Georgia Star News on the incredible reporting you have done. Keep going! The scam is all unraveling fast.”

Last month, an attorney representing Georgia citizens who secured the right to review over 145,000 absentee ballots cast in Fulton County told the judge overseeing the case that a top county election official could not say how many absentee ballots were printed.

Plaintiff’s attorney Bob Cheeley recounted to Judge Brian Amero that Fulton County Registration Chief Ralph Jones, during a pretrial deposition, estimated the county printed 20,000 absentee ballots through a vendor in the 10 days leading up to the election.

Jones could not give the attorney a precise number.

Cheeley further related that he queried Jones about whether any of the ballots were left over, but the official could not say.

An independent report contracted by the Georgia State Election Board and released on Jan. 12 determined that there were many abnormalities in Fulton County’s November election, including some matters that involved Jones himself.

“There were persistent chain of custody issues throughout the entire absentee ballot processing system,” the report said.

It added that “the fact that ballots were being delivered to State Farm Arena in unsecured mail carts is very concerning.”

“Protocol for securing ballots exists not only to protect the ballots themselves but also to ensure that no ballot box stuffing occurred,” it said.

“This problem was exacerbated by poor managerial processes by Ralph Jones, who failed to do intake counts for the provisional ballots.”

The report also noted that some staff seemed to not understand that absentee ballots needed to be verified before they were counted.

State Farm Arena in Atlanta is the location where poll watchers were told by election officials that counting had stopped for the day, only for surveillance video to reveal it resumed later in the night.

The report concluded that “the truth about what happened on the night of November 3rd between 10:30 PM and 11:52 PM [at State Farm Arena] continues to be elusive … but if the party poll watchers are correct, then there is a serious problem.”

Fulton County filed multiple legal motions last month in a bid to prevent the review of 147,000 absentee ballots by Georgia citizens from proceeding.

Amero has set a hearing for June 21 to consider Fulton County’s objections.

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