ATLANTA, Ga – Elected officials are taking aim and Fulton County and its elections director Richard Barron, following new details regarding the 2020 election.
Speaker of the House David Ralston (R – Blue Ridge) released the letter he sent to Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron. In the letter, Ralston requests Barron ask the GBI to investigate November 2020 election. He cited the mounting allegations against Fulton County as his reasoning behind the need for an investigation.
“Recently, media reports have surfaced which call into question the way in which Fulton County conducted, counted and audited the November 2020 Presidential Election. These reports have been accompanied by video and other evidence which is part of on-going litigation and requires thorough examination and explanation. Given the seriousness of this situation and the possible repercussions for our state and nation, it is time we have an independent investigation – once and for all – of the way in which Fulton County conducted, counted and audited the November 2020 Presidential Election,” Ralston wrote.
Raffensperger calls for Barron’s firing
Throughout the week, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-Ga) has issued several tweets, and last month, he held a press conference in front of headlines concerning Fulton’s lengthy history of election problems.
Most recently, a report of the double-counting of 200 absentee ballots came to light after the new voting law made it public.
“Fulton County’s continued failures have gone on long enough with no accountability. Rick Barron and Ralph Jones, Fulton’s registration chief, must be fired and removed from Fulton’s elections leadership immediately. Fulton’s voters and the people of Georgia deserve better,” one of Raffensperger’s tweets read.
Earlier this year, the Fulton County Elections Board voted to fire Barron, but the commissioners rejected the termination.
Another tweet stated, “Long before November, I had been working to get Fulton to clean up their decades of election mismanagement. Restoring confidence in our elections should be a bipartisan concern. Fulton County’s poor elections management is making that impossible.”
Raffensperger’s also gone on record urging Republicans to take “the lead on election regulation reform” and that the SOS assigned monitor found “significant management issues.”
Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts (D – Fulton) described Raffensperger’s call to fire Barron and Jones as a “sell out to conspiracy theorists.”
“His ultimate goal is based on the provisions of Senate Bill 202, he would like to take over the elections in Fulton County, that is not going to happen, period,” Pitts told Fox 5 Atlanta.
Under the Election Integrity Act (SB 202), the Secretary of State’s Office does have the authority to take over a county’s elections process if numerous instances of problems are documented. The Department of Justice is currently suing Georgia over the bill on the grounds that it violates voter’s civil rights.
Read the entirety of Ralston’s call for an election investigation below:
ELLIJAY, Ga – November 2020 election integrity lawsuit plaintiff Garland Favorito labeled the obstacles facing the ballot audit a “battle between establishment and grassroots” Republicans.
On Friday, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero granted the motion to unseal ballots in Fulton County.
The ballots will be scanned to produce 600 dpi dots per inch) high-resolution images for a forensic audit. However, only the court and Fulton County employees will be allowed to handle the ballots.
Petitioners and Respondents council along with the court will convene on Friday at the ballot’s location to discuss further protocols.
Following the order, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger released a statement:
“From day one I have encouraged Georgians with concerns about the election in their counties to pursue those claims through legal avenues. Fulton County has a long standing history of election mismanagement that has understandably weakened voters’ faith in its system. Allowing this audit provides another layer of transparency and citizen engagement.”
Favorito remarked the statement was “carefully crafted as not to lie” when read the statement. He asked if Raffensperger was in favor of election transparency then why did his office file an amicus brief against their lawsuit through the Attorney General.
He added that the Secretary of State has issued more “roadblocks” than Fulton County itself. He stated that Raffensperger is “adamantly opposed to election transparency in the state.”
The Secretary of State’s Office has conducted three recounts of the November Election, including a hand recount.
All three came back confirming the election results. During the almost daily press briefings following the November election, Gabriel Sterling, Secretary of State Election Official, tried to quell claims of widespread voter fraud and asked individual voters to report and suspected issues to their office.
Earlier in the year, the state board of election aced on more than 300 cases of voter fraud, several were referred to the Attorney General for prosecution.
Raffensperger’s also voiced support of Georgia voter reform efforts, claiming it would not result in voter suppression. He added on Twitter that he’s always encouraged voters to use legal channels when pursuing election disputes in their counties.
ALPHARETTA, Ga – Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle hosted his Secretary of State campaign kick-off on Monday, March 22 at Alpharetta City Park and called out Raffensperger’s elections procedures.
Trump supporter State Senator Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta) introduced the candidate. Beach spoke about until after the November election his cell phone seldomly rang and everyone who called asked about election reform.
“The reason I’m supporting David is I know he’s a man of character, integrity, and he’s smart and that matters. He would not have entered into an agreement that really made two sets of rules for voting in person and absentee ballots,” Beach said.
He wants Georgia to take the path of Florida concerning reform and have the 2022 results in by the 11 p.m. news. Belle Isle promised Beach that he would make that happen.
Belle Isle spoke about how it’s tough to be a conservative, and many feel attacked either by the media, corporate America, or big tech.
“Most people raise their families and most people live applying conservative values and conservative principles whether they know it or not,” the candidate remarked. “The entire purpose of the Republican Party is to bring human flourishing within the reach of every American, within the reach of every Georgian. We do this by opening the widest door possible.”
He directly leveled the blame for the November elections at Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R). Speaking to election integrity, he stated that every vote must be validated.
“The disaster that was the 2020 election was not something that happened to Brad Raffensperger. It was something that happened through Brad Raffensperger,” Belle Isle commented. He then listed the actions Raffensperger took leading up to the 2020 primary and general elections.
The list included signing the compromise settlement agreement with Fair Fight Georgia and Stacy Abrams, the mass mailing absentee ballot applications before the primary, drop boxes, and allowing signature verification only for absentee ballots.
Belle Isle added that he’s not “here to say one way or another” if the election was stolen, but what happened in Georgia was worse than that – “an election that can neither be proved fraudulent or fair.” The Secretary of State’s Office did conduct three recounts that all resulted in the same outcome.
Later, the former mayor stated he was in favor of removing no excuse absentee ballots, but understands it’s an uphill battle.
According to Belle Isle, the settlement agreement “made it difficult for counties to efficiently reject an invalid mail-in ballot” and it took three people to reject a mail-in ballot. The rejection rate dropped from three percent to practically zero percent.
Citing the Senate runoff, he commented how thousands stayed home because they lost confidence in the system. Typically, turnout does drop if a Presidential election isn’t on the ballot.
Belle Isle believes he’s the best man for the job with a focus on restoring voter integrity as the backbone of his campaign.
“The Secretary of State needs to be hands-on. The Secretary of State needs to be in that office on a daily basis. I mean looking at the election process from top to bottom. A lot of what’s been happening here is essentially someone governing from afar, leading from afar, and handing it off to his lieutenants,” Belle Isle stated about Raffensperger’s handling of the Secretary of State’s Office.
Congressman Jody Hice also entered the Secretary of State race on Monday.
ELLIJAY, Ga – Senator Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta) didn’t mince words when addressing the incompetence of Fulton County and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Beach was one of four Georgia state senators who called for a special session concerning election integrity earlier in the year. The others were Sen. Greg Dolezal (R – Cumming), Sen. William Ligon (R – Brunswick), and Sen. Burt Jones (R – Jackson).
“We were very upset that Brad Raffensperger entered into an agreement with Stacey Abrams and the Democrats on signatures and absentee ballots that we didn’t have any say on as a General Assembly, and we believed we should have had a vote on that. We were very concerned that we weren’t following state law,” Beach commented.
The Senate Judiciary Special Subcommittee on Elections held a second hearing on December 30 with another five hours of testimony about voting irregularities. Beach mentioned being “appalled” that Judge Leslie Abrams Garner, Stacey Abrams’s sister. The judge didn’t recuse herself from the voting registration case asking for 4,000 change-of-address to be removed from the rolls. Raffensperger stated opposition to the judge’s decision.
One witness Jovan Pultizer, a self-described inventor, claimed he could authenticate Fulton County’s ballots within a couple of hours through kinematic artifacts. Apparently, he can determine counterfeit marks, printing, folds, etc.
“[Fulton County] is incompetent. They don’t get the results to you until two or three in the morning. You add 500,000 absentee ballots, and it’s a recipe for disaster, mischief, shenanigans, and fraud. I think that is what happened in Fulton County. I’ve never had any confidence in Fulton County for 26 years,” Beach added.
The Judiciary Subcommittee sent a letter to Fulton County asking elections officials to turn over absentee ballots to Pultizer and the Cheeley Law Group. Senate Pro Temp Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) called Raffensperger to ensure Fulton follows through with that process. The committee doesn’t have subpoena power to enforce these letters, but they will look into creating subpoena power next session.
Voter Implementation Manager, Gabriel Sterling, confirmed this week that a Maryland woman listed his home address as her own and tried to vote. Sterling’s been the Secretary of State’s Office’s face for most press conferences following the November election. However, he’s a contractor receiving $200,000 before returning to his state job as chief operating officer.
“Brad Raffensperger out to be the one behind that podium,” Beach remarked. “He was elected, and Gabe Sterling was not, nor was Jordan Fuchs, but they’re running the Secretary of State’s Office.”
The money used to secure Sterling’s contract money came from bond money, and Georgia must pay 3.7 percent interest on it until 2037.
“That is not a good steward of taxpayer money,” Beach stated. “I would never have made that deal.”
The senator doesn’t believe Raffensperger or his office possess any “urgency” to protect Georgia voters when it comes to the drop boxes, the chain of custody, or the mobile unit in Fulton County.
According to Georgia law, voting locations are limited to state buildings, libraries, schools, or churches. Mobile voting units aren’t listed under the current law.
As for the drop boxes, each one should follow a chain of custody with two people picking up the ballots and then directing dropping them off at the registrar and elections office. Beach received evidence when ballots were picked up on October 22 and not delivered until October 25.
“Why were they three days later arriving at the county elections office? That is breaking the chain of custody. It leads you to believe there was some mischief,” Beach said. “I have no confidence in the Secretary of State’s Office to do anything between now and January 5.”
130+ ballot drop boxes are in the metro area. The grant money for these boxes came from third parties, not the state of Georgia.
The latest audit from the Secretary of State’s Office didn’t find any evidence of voter fraud.
ATLANTA, Ga – Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston announced intentions to change the way Georgia selects a Secretary of State. He favors placing the power with the legislature.
Ralston will ask the Governmental Affairs Committee to craft a constitutional amendment that changes the Secretary of State to an appointed position. The bill would need to be passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. Currently, Georgia citizens elect the Secretary of State.
“I think it’s time in Georgia that we look an alternative way of electing a Secretary of State. There’s more than one option as an alternative. Frankly, I like the option of having the General Assembly elect that individual for a set term,” Ralston commented.
The Secretaries of State of Tennessee, Maine, and New Hampshire are all elected by their respective state legislatures.
“I feel like it’s the only way to right this ship. I don’t do this lightly or disrespectfully to the incumbent who I have high personal regard for. I do this because we have a job to do as members of the house and members of the senate,” Ralston finished.
The move comes after several weeks of questions, concerns, and Republican in-fighting over the November 3 elections. One concern that several elected Republicans in Georgia take issue with is the consent decree signed by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp without informing the General Assembly until afterward.
If the bill becomes law, a Secretary of State couldn’t enter into a consent decree without first consulting the legislature.
It would also remove power from the hands of the voter and place it with the General Assembly. Ralston argued that the people are feeling “excluded” by the Secretary of State’s Office.
If the bill passed the House and Senate, then it would land on the governor’s desk. Kemp has supported Raffensperger through much of the post-election disputes, aside from calling for future reforms. At this point, it’s unlikely he would sign the bill.
This isn’t the first time Ralston and Raffensberger didn’t see eye-to-eye. Before the June primary, Ralston expressed disapproval in the Secretary of State’s plan to send all Georgians an absentee ballot application. Some reports suggest that these applications carried over through the General Election.
The House’s Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing concerning election irregularities today. They invited the Secretary of State Raffensperger and team. Last night, the Secretary of State’s Office informed the committee that they declined to attend the hearing. The committee wanted to speak with the Secretary of State about potential improvements that could be made to the system. Ralston ensured that the Secretary of State knew it would be a “fact-finding” and “non-adversarial” meeting.
“I’m completely shocked. I’m disappointed. I don’t ever remember in my time serving in this Assembly, a Constitutional Officer refusing to come before a House or a Senate Committee to offer up information that might be helpful to the people’s representatives,” Ralston remarked. “The people of Georgia are wanting answers out of their representatives.”
He believed Georgia’s representatives are entitled to a question-and-answer session with the Secretary of State’s Office.
The Secretary of State’s Office did hold a 3 p.m. press conference to debunk more voter fraud claims.
“Today we have yet another example of a Constitutional Officer who has chosen to be on his own and disregard input from the people who he looks to for his budget and to consider legislative changes to his office,” Ralston added.
Video footage courtesy of 11Alive.
ATLANTA, Ga – Georgia Governor Brian Kemp maintained his hardline stance against calling a special session of the General Assembly.
In a joint statement, Kemp and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan declared they would not bend to party pressures. They asserted that a special session to select presidential electors isn’t allowed under federal and state law.
Read the full statement from Kemp and Duncan:
“While we understand four members of the Georgia Senate are requesting the convening of a special session of the General Assembly, doing this in order to select a separate slate of presidential electors is not an option that is allowed under state or federal law.
“State law is clear: the legislature could only direct an alternative method for choosing presidential electors if the election was not able to be held on the date set by federal law. In the 1960s, the General Assembly decided that Georgia’s presidential electors will be determined by the winner of the state’s popular vote. Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the November 3rd election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution.
“The judicial system remains the only viable – and quickest – option in disputing the results of the November 3rd election in Georgia.”
However, Kemp commended Georgia House of Representatives, Speaker David Ralston (R – Blue Ridge), and House Majority Leader Jon Burns (R-Newington) for proposing reforms to the election process. The governor’s also been a strong proponent for signature verification reforms.
I thank Leader Burns, Speaker Ralston, and members of the House for proposing necessary reforms that will help restore confidence in our elections. https://t.co/niD9UsBzSW
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) December 5, 2020
In a letter to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and State Elections Board, Burns and more than 100 House members suggested improvements to the absentee ballot application and envelope signature verification process.
“Many Georgians, including my colleagues who have signed this correspondence, have serious concerns about Georgia’s elections,” said Leader Burns. “As we approach a critical election on January 5, 2021, Georgia voters must have confidence in the election process going forward. To that end, my colleagues in the House and I have submitted two common-sense suggestions to help ensure secure elections on January 5. I thank Secretary Raffensperger and the State Election Board for considering these suggestions that would rebuild some of the trust that Georgians may have lost in our election process.”
The letter called for robust verification process reforms, such as allowing independent observers to witness signature reviews. They also proposed the Secretary of State’s office partner with other state agencies.
“Multiple news outlets reported significant failures in counties across our state before, during, and after Election Day,” added Leader Burns. “These counties were rural, suburban, and metro-area and represented all demographics and areas of our state. We hope these suggestions can help Georgians rest assured that each and every legal vote is counted here in Georgia.”
Last Thursday, Trump legal team presented a witness who contended Kemp could convene a special session for this purpose. However, the move would tie the state up in legal battles. Most alleged voter fraud evidence has been rebutted by the Secretary of State’s Office. Raffensperger also opened 250 voter fraud investigations last week but claimed there’s no evidence of systemic fraud. Since Georgia effectively moved to a paper ballot system, election officials can review paper records against the Dominion system.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger likened Trump’s tactics to Stacey Abrams (D).
He told the WSJ that the November election was “the most secure in history” and that election problems started long-before 2020. Calling out politicians and pundits who refuse to accept election results like Stacey Abrams, who “still refuses to acknowledge she lost,” Raffensperger pointed to a loss of confidence in the system.
Many Georgia GOP senators echoed a similar sentiment last Thursday during Oversight Committee and Special Judicial Subcommittee hearings. Constituents have expressed a loss of trust in the election process and an unwillingness to return to the polls.
“I’m going to try to build this statement based on a consensus of what I’m hearing from the people that I represent: We have totally lost confidence in our election system this year,” Senate Republican Whip Steve Gooch of Dahlonega said. “I’m here on behalf of those citizens. I have a duty to let you know that this issue isn’t going to go away unless we make some changes.”
Later this week, the Georgia House of Representatives will hold a Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on elections.