Georgia Still Has Not Produced Chain of Custody Records for 333,000 Absentee Vote by Mail Ballots Deposited in Drop Boxes in 2020 Election

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Six months after the November 3, 2020 presidential election, officials at the state and county level in Georgia have failed to produce chain of custody records for more than 333,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes located around the state for that election.

Joe Biden was certified as the victor of Georgia and its 16 Electoral College votes by a margin of 11,599 votes, or less than 0.25 percent of the 5 million votes cast in the November 3, 2020 presidential election in Georgia. According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, 1.3 million of those votes were cast as absentee vote by mail ballots.

Based on polling conducted by John McLaughlin & Associates, 700,000 of those absentee vote by mail ballots were sent via regular mail and 600,000 were deposited in the estimated 300 drop boxes located around the state and were manually picked up and transported by election workers to the local county registrar for subsequent counting.

Drop Box Ballot Transfer Form
An example of a completed Absentee Ballot Transfer Form from Cook County, Georgia.

As of May 17, only 59 of Georgia’s 159 counties have provided ballot transfer form data to The Georgia Star News. The number of absentee by mail ballots delivered to registrars in those 159 counties total only 266,492, or 44.4 percent, of the estimated 600,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes and delivered to county registrars and counted in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

More than six months after the November 3, 2020 election in Georgia, there are no chain of custody documents for 333,511 or 55.6 percent, of the estimated 600,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes and delivered to county registrars and counted in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

According to Georgia Election Code Emergency Rule 183-1-14-0.8-.14, promulgated by the Georgia State Election Board in July 2020, but not codified by the state legislature at the time as the Georgia Constitution requires, each of Georgia’s 159 counties is responsible for documenting the transfer of every batch of absentee ballots picked up at drop boxes and delivered to the county election offices with ballot transfer forms. The forms are required to be signed and dated, with time of pick up by the collection team upon pick up, and then signed, dated, with time of delivery by the registrar or designee upon receipt and accepted.

The Office of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Breitbart News in December that it was not the responsibility of the Secretary of State to obtain, review, and make these ballot transfer forms available to the public. Instead, it is the responsibility of each county.

From Monday, December 7 through Friday, December 11, The Georgia Star News issued Open Records requests to all 159 counties in order to obtain copies of the ballot transfer forms. The forms were required as part of the hastily crafted Election Code Emergency Rule promulgated by the Georgia State Election Board in July 2020, but not codified by the state legislature as the Georgia Constitution requires.

The latest report on the results of The Star News Open Records requests shows little progress in documenting the chain of custody for the estimated 600,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes and counted in the November 3, 2020 election in the months since The Georgia Star News reported on March 4 that Georgia officials had failed to produce chain of custody records for more than 404,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes around the state:

As of March 3, only 56 of Georgia’s 159 counties have provided ballot transfer form data to The Georgia Star News. The number of absentee by mail ballots delivered to registrars in those 56 counties total only 195,309, or 32.5 percent, of the estimated 600,000 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes and delivered to county registrars and counted in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

Ballot transfer form data from three additional counties who have responded to The Star News Open Records requests has been added to the total number absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes in the November 3, 2020 general election for which there are chain of custody documents:

  • Banks County has provided ballot transfer forms for 324 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes.
  • Richmond (Augusta) County has provided ballot transfer forms for 11,814 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes.
  • Fulton County has provided ballot transfer forms for 59,042 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes.

Here is a county by county breakdown of the 59 counties in Georgia that, as of May 17, have provided chain of custody documentation for the 266,489 absentee vote by mail ballots deposited in drop boxes and delivered to county registrars in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election:

  • Baker totals 69
  • Banks totals 324
  • Barrow totals 2,583
  • Bartow totals 4,909
  • Berrien totals 92
  • Bleckley totals 89
  • Bulloch totals 2,256
  • Butts totals 481
  • Catoosa totals 532
  • Cherokee totals 17,033
  • Clarke totals 4,909
  • Cobb totals 89,860
  • Colquitt totals 571
  • Cook totals 530
  • Coweta totals 4,422
  • Crawford totals 1,519
  • Crisp totals 216
  • Decatur totals 963
  • Dougherty totals 3,793
  • Douglas totals 7,949
  • Elbert totals 440
  • Fannin totals 771
  • Fayette totals 6,471
  • Fulton totals 59,042
  • Gilmer total 513
  • Gordon totals 1,326
  • Hall totals 7,565
  • Harris totals 1,067
  • Lincoln totals 513
  • Lowndes totals 3,266
  • Lumpkin totals 1,382
  • McDuffie totals 738
  • McIntosh totals 913
  • Mitchell totals 262
  • Murray totals 162
  • Oconee totals 3,016
  • Oglethorpe totals 636
  • Paulding totals 9,731
  • Peach totals 461
  • Pierce totals 444
  • Pike totals 495
  • Polk totals 826
  • Quitman totals 34
  • Rabun totals 1,163
  • Richmond (Augusta) totals 11,814
  • Schley totals 64
  • Screven totals 190
  • Spalding totals 1,489
  • Stephens totals 308
  • Talbot totals 329
  • Tattnall totals 282
  • Telfair totals 401
  • Terrell totals 105
  • Towns totals 1,197
  • Walker totals 475
  • Walton totals 3,198
  • Ware totals 123
  • White totals 414
  • Whitfield totals 1,763

28 scofflaw counties simply failed to respond at all the The Star News Open Records requests:

Bibb, Brantley, Bryan, Chatham, Clay, Clayton, Dodge, Dooly, Evans, Franklin, Glynn, Houston, Jefferson, Johnson, Lamar, Lanier, Liberty, Long, Monroe,  Pulaski,  Sumter, Tift, Toombs, Troup, Turner,  Upson, Wayne, and Wilkes.

As The Star News reported on March 4, “DeKalb County told The Star News they were unsure if responsive documents existed. Then on December 17, DeKalb County provided documents that were not responsive to the Open Records Request. Instead of providing ballot transfer forms that provided chain of custody records for the movement of ballots from drop boxes to registrars, they provided documents that showed the movement of boxes of absentee ballots from registrars to centralized tabulation areas.”

The remaining 71 counties in Georgia either did not use drop boxes in the November 3, 2020 election, or have said they will make the records available upon payment of a processing fee.

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Tiffany Morgan is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected] Star News journalists Laura Baigert and Chris Butler contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

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