A Georgia judge agreed Friday to unseal nearly 150,000 absentee ballots in Fulton County, the state’s most populous county, to allow investigators to examine the ballots for evidence of alleged voter fraud.
What are the details?
Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero is allowing more than 145,000 absentee ballots from the 2020 presidential election to be inspected in the audit, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The exact details of the audit are still being determined, but Amero made clear the ballots will remain under the care of Fulton County election officials while the audit is conducted.
More from the Journal-Constitution:
Friday’s decision came in a lawsuit filed by nine plaintiffs, including Garland Favorito, a Fulton county resident and self-styled election watchdog. It’s one of dozens of lawsuits that stemmed from the November presidential election and the January runoff for U.S. Senate, some of which are still winding their way through the courts.
The audit cannot change the results of the 2020 presidential election in Fulton County because they were certified months ago.
However, “plaintiffs say an examination of ballots would get to the bottom of what they see as suspicious activity at State Farm Arena on election night and pave the way for more accurate elections in the future,” the Journal-Constitution reported.
Georgia state and local officials have said repeatedly there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election.
What was the reaction?
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who rebuffed Donald Trump’s claims that Georgia’s election was marred by voter fraud, said he supports the judge’s decision.
In a statement, Raffensperger cited “a longstanding history of election mismanagement” in Fulton County.
“From day one I have encouraged Georgians with legitimate concerns about the election in their counties to pursue those claims through legal avenues,” Raffensperger said. “Fulton County has a longstanding history of election mismanagement that has understandably weakened voters’ faith in its system. Allowing this audit provides another layer of transparency and citizen engagement.”
However, Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts (D) blasted the decision.
“It is outrageous that Fulton County continues to be a target of those who cannot accept the results from last year’s election,” Pitts said.
“The votes have been counted three times, including a hand recount, and no evidence of fraud has been found,” Pitts continued. “The fact remains that Fulton County safely and securely carried out an election in the midst of a public health pandemic. It’s a shame to see that the ‘Big Lie’ lives on and could cost the hardworking taxpayers of this county.”