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Ballot Harvesting Probe in Swing State Advances After State Elections Board Approves Subpoena

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


An investigation into allegations of mass ballot harvesting in Georgia during the 2020 election cycle can now proceed after the state elections board approved a subpoena sought by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican.

The subpoena will allow Raffensperger’s office to begin gathering evidence and testimony into what has been an ongoing probe regarding whether third-party liberal activists illegally collected thousands of absentee ballots in the general election in November as well as a subsequent run-off election that wound up determining Democratic control of the U.S. Senate, Just the News reported Monday.

The outlet notes further:

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The vote was a major win for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who announced the investigation into alleged ballot harvesting in January and was seeking the subpoena authority to assist the probe.

The subpoena power will allow Raffensperger’s team to secure evidence about a whistleblower who alleged to an election integrity group that he participated in a large operation to gather ballots in which activists were paid $10 for each ballot they delivered.

Georgia law expressly prohibits third parties from collecting, gathering, or delivering absentee ballots, except in the case of immediate relatives.

“A vote on whether to issue the subpoena had been delayed several weeks because the Elections Board could not determine who would be its new chairperson. However, the board unanimously chose member Matthew Mashburn last week during a meeting to serve as interim chairman. Afterward, the board voted in favor of the subpoena during a closed-door session,” Just the News reported.

“All the board members are here,” Mashburn said after emerging from the closed-door session. “A quorum is in order. We went into executive session for purposes of discussing pending and potential litigation and for the board to authorize subpoenas in case no. 2020-10-Dougherty County and 2022-003 ballot harvesting.”

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Officials told the outlet that Raffensperger’s office will use its new subpoena authority to secure records and evidence from an election integrity organization called True the Vote.

The group filed a complaint in the state in November claiming to have acquired videos, an admission by a whistleblower, and cell phone location records revealing what the group says is a widespread ballot harvesting operation ahead of the November 2020 election and the runoff for U.S. Senate in January 2021.

In its complaint, the group said that it had obtained video footage showing ballot traffickers bringing stacks of ballots to dropboxes between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. Cell phone records obtained by the group indicate that as many as 240 activists made such drops, Just the News reported.

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The organization also noted that a whistleblower who agreed to cooperate in the probe and who was granted ‘John Doe’ anonymity said he was paid $10 per ballot he collected and delivered, adding that many other people were also involved in the activity.

“John Doe described a network of non-governmental organizations that worked together to facilitate a ballot trafficking scheme in Georgia,” True the Vote noted in the complaint. “John Doe claimed to have been one of many individuals paid to collect and deliver absentee ballots during the early voting periods of the November 2020 General Election and the January 2021 Runoff Election.”

Raffensperger in 2019 led an effort to see state laws updated to expressly ban ballot harvesting. He told the outlet earlier this month that investigators from his office want to obtain and secure the identity of the whistleblower and then follow the money to find out who funded the operation.

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“We need to get a subpoena for the fella who this John Doe is,” Raffensperger said. “Was he paid? How much was he paid? And then who paid him. And we’re going to follow the money, and we’re going get to the bottom of it. And we’re going to prosecute this if we find that there’s substance to it.”

Just the News added: “State law currently allows only the ballot traffickers to be prosecuted, and does not invalidate the ballots of voters who are lawfully registered to vote but give their ballot to a third-party. Some state officials told Just the News they have been privately discussing asking the Georgia legislature to create penalties for voters who surrender their ballots to a third party.”

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