OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Everything is a conspiracy theory until facts get in the way. That is what is happening in Fulton County, Georgia as the chain of custody documents for absentee ballots cannot be found.
The Georgia Star News described it as a “stunning admission” when a Fulton County election official informed them that “a few forms are missing” and that “some procedural paperwork may have been misplaced” for the November 3, 2020 election.
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.
On Sunday, The Star News published a story which included the files containing digital images of the 1,180 transfer forms that Fulton County did provide. Those digital images can be viewed here.
This is the first time that any election official at either the state or county level from a key battleground state has made an admission of significant error in election procedures for the November 3, 2020 election.
The admission of missing chain of custody documents by a Fulton County official is important for several reasons that cut to the very core of public confidence in the outcome of the 2020 presidential election:
President Biden was certified as the winner of Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes in the 2020 election by the narrow margin of less than 12,000 votes over former President Donald Trump out of a total of 5 million votes cast statewide.
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.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has taken no action in 156 of Georgia’s 159 counties to secure copies of any absentee ballot drop box transfer forms and review them for accuracy and consistency with reported absentee ballot vote counts. In April his office announced investigations into three small counties that “failed to do their absentee ballot transfer forms” in the November 2020 election in compliance with rules and regulations.
And seven months after the Open Records Request 28 counties have failed to respond at all. That means no chain of custody documentation has been provided for around 333,000 absentee ballots.
“As we review the documents provided to you and our daily log. We noticed that a few forms are missing, it seems when 25 plus core personnel were quarantined due to positive COVID-19 outbreak at the EPC, some procedural paperwork may have been misplaced,” Mariska Bodison of Fulton County Registration & Elections said.
The Star News made its first request in December 2020 and Fulton County provided it with numerous documents. In February 2021 Fulton County gave The Star News two pdf files with labels that ended in BX1 and BX3, which meant BX2 was missing.
And, it said, that the number of ballots represented on the transfer form was far shorter than the number of ballots in the drop boxes.
“As we review the documents provided to you and our daily log. We noticed that a few forms are missing, it seems when 25 plus core personnel were quarantined due to positive COVID-19 outbreak at the EPC, some procedural paperwork may have been misplaced,” Bodison said in an email to The Star News.
And Georgia Secretary Of State Raffensperger has finally spoken on the matter.
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.
— GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (@GaSecofState) June 14, 2021
“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 said on Twitter.
“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,” he said.