A Georgia judge affirmed the right of citizens to conduct their own review of over 145,000 of Fulton County’s absentee ballots on Friday, overriding the objections of the state’s attorney general’s office.
Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero explained his reasoning for allowing the audit to go forward, despite Georgia Assistant Attorney General Charlene McGowan’s objections. McGowan argued that there should not be an audit, but if there is one, it should be done by an independent group.
“The petitioners would be of the view that they are the ones to defend their own constitutional rights in this suit that they have filed,” Amero responded to that position.
“[W]hether they have the right to conduct these independent viewings, not a physical inspection, but an inspection nonetheless, a visual inspection, combined with an opportunity to have ballot images at resolution that allows them to pursue their claims, that seems to be something they have the authority and the right to do,” the judge further stated.
Others have joined in, including Tea Party Patriots Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the case.
Favorito “says county workers likely fabricated ballots and counted some ballots multiple times on election night,” and the lawsuit cited a video of the counting and sworn statements from observers, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
State Farm Arena in Fulton County is the location where poll watchers were told by election officials that counting had stopped for the night, only for surveillance video to reveal it resumed later in the night.
Dr. Lisa Detter-Hoskin — a senior research scientist with Georgia Institute of Technology, who testified for the plaintiffs Friday — said that in order to properly review the ballots a minimum resolution of 600 DPI (dots per inch) scan would be needed.
This resolution would allow the audit team to check for abnormalities such as candidate selection ovals being filled in by machines, rather than by hand or mail-in absentee ballots having no folds, as some Fulton County election observers previously claimed in sworn affidavits.
9 observers in GA have signed affidavits swearing they saw suspicious mail-in ballots cast for Biden that were in pristine condition and had no creases on them. This means the ballots had not been mailed in envelopes as required, according to their affidavits. #StopTheSteal
— Jenny Beth Martin (@jennybethm) November 23, 2020
For example, veteran poll worker Susan Voyles said in November that she witnessed many “pristine ballots” being counted in Fulton County.
The poll worker related that one particular box she came across contained hundreds of ballots that had no folds and appeared to be filled in by a machine.
In its amicus brief, the Tea Party Patriots Foundation noted, “Several poll workers who handled the original ballots reported that many of the ballots handled felt as though they were printed on different paper than the original ballots.”
Plaintiff attorney Bob Cheeley pointed out during Friday’s hearing that Fulton County was permitted to contract with a private company to have ballots printed.
He told the judge that Fulton County Registration Chief Ralph Jones could not confirm during a pre-trial deposition how many ballots had been printed. Also, the county has not produced the invoices for the ballot printing order.
Cheeley further stated that Jones could not confirm how many of the printed ballots were sent to voters, nor how many remained.
“The instant case does not challenge that a greater number of ballots were cast for President Biden than for former President Trump,” the Tea Party Patriots’ brief reads.
“The issue centers on the strong public policy in favor of election integrity and whether the original ballots cast by the citizens of Georgia were actual authentic ballots, and whether they were properly cast.”
The brief also highlighted that a report commissioned by the State Election Board, released on Jan. 12 determined that there were many abnormalities in Fulton County’s November election.
Among them is a lack of chain of custody documentation for absentee ballots taken from drop boxes to tabulation centers.
“The fact that ballots were delivered to State Farm Arena in unsecured mail carts is very concerning,” the report reads.
Absentee Drop Box Facts:
? 90% of Fulton County voters live within 3 miles of a Drop Box
?40K+ Fulton voters have already dropped off their ballots in these secure boxes
? You can drop off your absentee ballot until 7 pm on Nov 3. Find a box near you:https://t.co/lUFUKE7yln pic.twitter.com/lMWoPySlRS
— FultonCountyGeorgia (@FultonInfo) October 22, 2020
“Protocol for securing ballots exists not only in securing the ballots themselves but also ensuring no ballot stuffing occurred,” the report additionally highlights.
“The problem was exacerbated by poor managerial processes by Ralph Jones, who failed to do intake counts for provisional ballots.”
Regarding observers being told counting had ended when it had not at State Farm Arena election night, the report concludes that “the truth about what happened on the night of November 3rd between 10:30 PM and 11:52 PM continues to be elusive … but if the poll watchers are correct, then there is a serious problem.”
Amero has set a hearing for Friday to determine what protocols will be followed in the ballot review and scanning.
He reaffirmed that petitioners will be able to both “inspect and scan absentee ballots.”
Tea Party Patriots Foundation president Jenny Beth Martin is calling for a thorough inspection of the ballots themselves.
“The law is clear. The need is clear,” she said in a statement. “The actual ballots in question should be produced, so we can determine whether they were properly cast and counted, and we can begin to restore the public’s faith in the integrity of our state’s elections.”
“It’s been almost six months since the presidential election, and almost half of Georgia’s voters still have no confidence that the election was free and fair. That’s simply intolerable,” Martin added.
“In order for our republic to function properly, citizens must believe in the integrity of the election system. Restoring that lost trust is one of the most important tasks facing us today and for the next several years.”