Chief Judge Brian Amero filed a temporary injunction ordering Fulton County to preserve their general election mail-in ballots. Plaintiffs in the case organized by Voters Organized for Trusted Election Results in Georgia (VoterGA) had hoped to obtain an order from this hearing allowing them to conduct a forensic inspection of the county’s mail-in ballots. The hearing took place virtually at 4 p.m. EST with Henry County Superior Court. Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron was present on the line; the other election board members didn’t attend the hearing.
Attorneys from the Cheeley Law Group represented the plaintiffs. Their contentions concerned the events from State Farm Arena on November 3 after 10:30 p.m. EST. Multiple reports noted that poll workers and media were informed that vote counting was finished for the night, and that they should leave. They requested to share the video evidence from that night with the court, but Amero declined.
The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights of due process and equal protection were violated by the events pertaining to Fulton County’s processing of mail-in ballots. They cited that many affidavits had been submitted, some from individuals with decades of election worker experience. The plaintiffs summarized affidavits that alleged many mail-in ballots had “suspicious design and characteristics,” including ballots without folds or printed on entirely different paper stock.
The defense attorney in the case, Cheryl Ringer, asserted that access to mail-in ballots would violate ballot secrecy laws. Ringer also dismissed the entirety of plaintiffs’ concerns surrounding the State Farm Arena vote processing. She stated that the clips of the poll workers scanning the same batches of ballots multiple times was protocol because the machines sometimes became “jammed” and wouldn’t scan properly – therefore, workers had to rescan the ballots.
Plaintiffs responded that access to mail-in ballots wouldn’t violate ballot secrecy because voter names aren’t listen on those types of ballots, and because no laws state that viewing cast ballots is against ballot secrecy. They stated that the information was included in their supplemental brief, filed Tuesday, which Judge Amero relied on later in the hearing to make his ruling for a temporary injunction.
Amero’s temporary injunction prohibited any removal, destruction, or tampering of all Fulton County mail-in ballots.
Nearly one week ago, the Georgia State Senate Judiciary Subcommittee submitted a letter to Fulton County requesting access to the ballots for investigation. Their motion followed a hearing addressing election integrity concerning the recent general election.
In an interview with The Georgia Star News after the hearing, VoterGA Co-Founder and lead plaintiff in the case Garland Favorito shared that they would have another hearing next Friday. He expressed optimism that the judge would grant them an order to investigate the mail-in ballots during that hearing.
“We got a protective order for the ballots [today], that was good,” stated Favorito. “We got an evidentiary hearing next week on their violations on my open records request.”
Favorito reported that he’d made the requests prior to recount certification. During the hearing, Ringer alleged that their open records custodian, Steve Rosenberg, filed an affidavit to claim that he’d learned of and responded to Favorito’s open records requests at the end of December. The plaintiffs’ attorneys responded that they had no record of Rosenberg’s response.
Favorito also claimed that Ringer wasn’t relaying valid information.
“[She] made factually inaccurate statements. The first one was, she claimed that if we received the ballots that would violate the secret ballot constitutional requirement. The truth is, that there is no voter information on a ballot anywhere in Georgia or any other place in America,” stated Favorito. “The second thing she said was that the videos [at State Farm Arena], the people were having scanning problems and that’s why they rescanned the ballots because of rejections. That is also false, because you can see there is no interaction between the scanners and the scanning machine as you would have it when a scanner rejects it and you have a problem. The [workers] were having no problem whatsoever operating the scanning equipment – they were continually rescanning the ballots.”
Favorito relayed that their team wasn’t deterred by the outcome of the hearing but wished they wouldn’t have to wait another week to address their case again.
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