GA judge agrees to unseal mail-in ballots from Fulton County for audit

A state judge in Georgia on Friday agreed to a request from nine plaintiffs to allow for an audit of mail-in ballots from the 2020 election in the state’s most populous county, which encompasses the Democratic stronghold of Atlanta.

Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero noted that he would lay out specifics in a future order pertaining to an audit involving more than 145,000 ballots allegedly cast in Fulton County, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Amero’s ruling comes as the result of a lawsuit against Fulton County election officials alleging evidence of illegal counting and forged or fraudulent ballots.

Various reports noted that parties are scheduled to meet at a ballot storage area at 10 a.m. on May 28. The ballots are to be scanned at high resolution — 600 dpi — while further details are forthcoming.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the plaintiffs — nine Georgia voters who will also be paying for the audit — will use the high-res images to determine if ballots were completed by hand or via a machine in order to determine whether they are legitimate.

President Joe Biden reportedly won the Peach State by about 12,000 votes.

Georgia election officials, including GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, have said the 2020 election did not involve widespread fraud and that all processes and procedures were followed.

Fulton County officials went on to blast the audit as well. County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts, a Democrat, said in a statement following Friday’s court ruling that it’s “outrageous that Fulton County continues to be a target of those who cannot accept the results from last year’s election.”

“The fact remains that Fulton County safely and securely carried out an election in the midst of a public health crisis. It’s a shame to see that the ‘Big Lie’ lives on and could cost the hardworking taxpayers of this county,” he added.

Plaintiffs reportedly requested that the audit be conducted by a private firm, but Amero nixed that, citing federal and state laws which say county officials must retain possession of the ballots.

Georgia election officials did a full hand recount of ballots following the November election to satisfy the provisions of a new audit requirement in state law. They also performed another recount at the request of former President Donald Trump’s campaign in which ballots were run through a scanner.

ABC News noted that since the state certified its election results months ago, it’s not likely that this audit, even if it found evidence of fraud, could overturn the results.

In a court filing in April, Raffensperger’s office opposed unsealing paper ballots but reportedly had no issue with turning over scanned images of those ballots.

“From day one I have encouraged Georgians with concerns about the election in their counties to pursue those claims through legal avenues,” Raffensperger said in a statement Friday following the ruling.

“Fulton County has a long-standing history of election mismanagement that has understandably weakened voters’ faith in its system. Allowing this audit provides another layer of transparency and citizen engagement,” he added.

According to a report by CD Media, attorneys for one organization pushing for the audit, VoterGA.org, “described large discrepancies (21%) between the number of ballot batches reported by the GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who certified the election, and the number of ballot batches actually provided by court-ordered access in the previous April hearing in the case.”

Following the election, the Trump campaign filed lawsuits in Georgia alleging, among other things, that many fraudulent ballots were cast.

Also at issue is surveillance video footage appearing to show Fulton County election supervisors booting workers late in the evening on Election Day — Nov. 3 — while a handful of workers remained behind and counted ballots that were hidden underneath tables.

The Fulton County audit follows a similar one in Arizona’s largest municipality, Maricopa County, which includes Phonix. That audit, which was requested by state Senate Republicans, is ongoing.

Jon Dougherty

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