Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Wednesday announced that he had referred three counties for investigation after they “failed to do their absentee ballot transfer forms in violation of Georgia Rules and Regulations.”
Raffensperger, in a press release (see below), identified those three counties as Coffee, Grady, and Taylor. The three counties account for only 0.37 percent of all absentee ballots cast in last year’s election, he said.
The secretary of state also said 120 other counties in Georgia had absentee ballot drop boxes that month. He said he confirmed that those remaining 120 counties completed their ballot transfer documents.
Georgia has 159 counties.
The Georgia Star News on Wednesday asked Raffensperger’s staff if they could share actual ballot transfer forms from DeKalb County. DeKalb County officials have not provided chain of custody records for the movement of ballots from drop boxes to registrars, per an open records request. We also asked for the total number of absentee ballots accounted for in the previously mentioned 120 counties and what percentage of absentee ballots officials delivered from dropbox to registrar immediately — as emergency election code rule requires?
Raffensperger spokesman Ari Schaffer, however, said he could not answer.
“You will have to get those documents through open records requests from the counties,” Schaffer said in an email.
“We just confirmed with the relevant counties that they had them. We don’t have the documents here.”
Members of the State Election Board, by emergency rule and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, permitted the absentee ballot drop boxes. The emergency rule required counties with drop boxes to fill out ballot transfer forms that included the date, time, location, and number of ballots in the drop boxes whenever election officials collected ballots from the drop box.
As reported last month, state and county officials failed to produce chain of custody documents for an estimated 404,691 vote-by-mail absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes and subsequently delivered to county registrars.
By Chris Butler
Georgia Absentee Ballot Transfer Documents Accounted For; Three Small Counties Referred For Investigation
(ATLANTA) – Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has referred Coffee, Grady, and Taylor Counties for investigation after those counties failed to do their absentee ballot transfer forms in violation of Georgia Rules and Regulations. The office of the Secretary of State has confirmed with the other 120 counties that had absentee ballot drop boxes in November that they completed ballot transfer documents.
“Since day one, I have made securing Georgia’s election a top priority and I have not stopped working since then,” said Secretary Raffensperger. “Though the overwhelming majority of counties did what they were supposed to, this demonstrates that new steps need to be taken to fully secure our elections. Securing elections is work that is never truly finished.”
Absentee ballot drop boxes were allowed by emergency rule of the State Election Board to address the absentee ballot voting surge caused by COVID-19. The emergency rule required counties with drop boxes to fill out ballot transfer forms that included the date, time, location, and number of ballots in the drop boxes whenever election officials collected ballots from the drop box.
In total, 123 counties had absentee ballot drop boxes for the November election. Of those, 120 have confirmed they filled out and retained ballot transfer forms in accordance with Georgia rules. Elections officials in 3 counties – Coffee, Grady, and Taylor – said they had not filled out the forms as required. The 3 counties account for only 0.37% of all the absentee ballots cast in the November election.