43,907 Absentee Ballots Counted in DeKalb County in 2020 Violated Chain of Custody Rule


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Around 43,000 absentee ballots counted in DeKalb County, Georgia, during the 2020 presidential election were found to have violated the chain of custody rule.

According to a new report on Georgia Star-News, the exact number of ballots – 43,907 – were counted and certified by county and state officials despite violating the chain of custody requirements.

DeKalb County, Georgia’s fourth most populous county as of the 2020 census, has had its share of issues during last year’s election.

The publication reported:

43,907 of the 61,731 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes in the November 2020 presidential election in DeKalb County, Georgia–72 percent–were counted in official tallies certified by the county and the state, despite violating chain of custody requirements set forward in Georgia Emergency Rule 183-1-14-1.8-.14  promulgated by the Georgia State Election Board at its July 1, 2020, meeting.

That rule states absentee ballots placed in drop boxes, “shall be immediately transported to the county registrar” by the two person collection team, which is required to sign a ballot transfer form indicating the number of ballots picked up, the time the ballots were picked up, and the location of the drop box, and that, “The county registrar or a designee thereof shall sign the ballot transfer form upon receipt of the ballots from the collection team.”

The rule states that absentee ballots in drop boxes “shall be immediately transported to the county registrar” by a two-person collection team, which is required to sign a ballot-transfer form indicating the number of ballots picked up, the time the ballots were picked up, and the location of the dropbox. It further states that the county registrar or a designee “thereof shall sign the ballot transfer form upon receipt of the ballots from the collection team,” per JustTheNews.

The paper reports that in response to an open records request, it managed to obtain 725 absentee ballot dropbox transfer forms used in the November 2020 election in DeKalb County to document the chain of custody of the 61,731 absentee ballots that were deposited in drop boxes from the DeKalb County law department, and uploading the absentee dropbox transfer forms onto Google Drive, where they can be publicly viewed.

Of the 61,731 absentee ballots recorded in the county as being deposited into drop boxes during the election, some 46%, or 28,194 of the absentee ballots, were not documented as being received by an elections registrar or the directors’ designee until the day after they were collected from the dropbox.

“The range in which absentee ballots were collected from drop boxes in DeKalb County and documented as received by the registrar the next day was between 13 and 22 hours, or nearly a full day later,” the paper reported.

It added that for another 26%, or 15,713 absentee ballots collected during the election, there was “no receipt time recorded at all by the elections office, as is required by the July 2020 emergency election code rule.”

The paper continued:

Records for seven full days of the 29-day election period – nearly one quarter – including October 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, and November 1, fall into this category.

All told, 43,907 absentee ballots were deposited in drop boxes in DeKalb County (28,194 absentee ballots whose chain of custody was accounted for on ballot transfer forms that were signed as received by the registrar’s designee one day after election workers removed them from drop boxes plus 15,713 absentee ballots whose chain of custody was accounted for on ballot transfer forms for with there was no registrar’s designee signature for time or date of receipt) were counted in the certified results of the November 3, 2020 election despite being delivered to the registrar’s office in clear violation of the chain of custody documentation of the Georgia State Election Board’s July 2020 rule. 

Another 24 percent – 14,925 absentee ballots collected from drop boxes – were documented as received by the elections official more than an hour after being collected by a two-person collection team, but on the same calendar day.

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