Chain-of-Custody Documents: View All the Ballot Transfer Forms from the November 2020 Election Provided by Fulton County to The Georgia Star News

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On May 3, 2021, six months after the November 3, 2020 presidential election, Fulton County election officials provided The Georgia Star News with a thumb drive containing 30 files those officials said complied with an Open Records Request made by The Star News. The request made to Fulton County was one in a series of Open Records Requests made to all 159 counties in Georgia to produce all chain of custody documents, known as absentee ballot drop box transfer forms, from that election.

The Emergency Election Code Rule promulgated by the Georgia State Election Board on July 1, 2020 required every Georgia County to use, maintain and store the chain of custody documents that tracked the transfer of absentee ballots placed in drop boxes to each county’s registrar or registrar’s designee.

Between September 24, 2020 and November 3, 2020, Fulton County election workers made a total of 1,565 separate and unique transfers of absentee ballots picked up at 37 drop boxes around the county, to designees of the county registrar, according to a spreadsheet document provided to The Star News by Fulton County.

Each of these 1,565 separate and unique transfers should have a corresponding absentee ballot transfer form, signed and dated by the election workers who collected these absentee ballots from their drop boxes, counted the number of ballots, then signed and dated by the county registrar’s designee who received these absentee ballots from the election worker.

An analysis of the 30 files provided to The Star News by Fulton County on May 3 shows they contain only 1,180 absentee ballot transfer forms, 385 fewer than the 1,565 absentee ballot transfer forms Fulton County’s own spreadsheet document said those 30 files should contain.

According to Fulton County’s own spreadsheet document, those missing 385 missing absentee ballot transfer forms purportedly provided chain of custody documentation for 18,901 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes. That chain of custody documentation for 18,901 absentee ballots cast in Fulton County during the November 3, 2020 election remains missing more than seven months after the election.

Readers can see all 30 files provided to The Star News by Fulton County on May 3, 2021 – files that provide chain of custody documentation for 1,180 absentee ballot transfer forms and 59,042 absentee ballots – at this link below.

Link to all 30 files provided to The Georgia Star News by Fulton County Officials documenting absentee ballot transfer forms from the November 3, 2020 Election:

LINK: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1d_V8fVcBIxzwqj-wb54xCFoaMT5oU8bA?usp=sharing

Absentee ballots were transported from 37 drop boxes around Fulton County from September 24 to November 3 to the Election Processing Center (EPC) located at 1365 English St. NW Atlanta , or to other unknown intermediate locations, by election workers based at the EPC. It is unclear if the county registrar designees who received those forms and signed for them did so while located at the EPC or at some unknown intermediate location.

Notably, on October 15, Fox 5 Atlanta reported that a COVID-19 outbreak at the EPC resulted in the quarantine of more than a dozen workers, which apparently required the hiring of additional temporary workers from an unknown source and the movement of some of the functions of the EPC to other, unknown locations.

On October 21, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported the COVID-19 outbreak at the EPC had grown to 23 election workers and that Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron announced the staff had moved to a different location:

Barron said that staff have sprayed the warehouse with a 30-day germicidal, moved over the weekend into a 110,000-square-foot area at the Georgia World Congress Center to increase social distancing and added security at the warehouse so they can open up bay doors to increase air flow.

He assured commissioners that they had the situation under control.

“We are well-positioned going forward,” Barron said.

It is unclear whether the absentee ballots collected to that point were stored at the EPC, transferred to the Georgia World Congress Center, which is located in downtown Atlanta, or transferred elsewhere, or what, if any, chain of custody documentation was in place for any of those transfers. It is also unclear if where the county registrar designees who accepted the daily arrivals of the absentee ballots placed in the 37 Fulton County drop boxes (marked on the map below in teal) were physically when they received those absentee ballots subsequent to October 21.

Absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes (numbering 75,000 according to a spreadsheet provided to The Star News by Fulton County, 78,000 according to a Star News analysis of data provided by Fulton County) were transported, either from the EPC or some unknown intermediary locations, to the centralized counting facility at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta between October 19 and November 6 for early processing, scanning, and possible adjudication according to information Fulton County provided to the Secretary of State, which was released by the Secretary of State’s office in a November 2 statement.

Fulton County has not produced any chain of custody documentation for these transfers. It does not appear that the State Board of Elections promulgated any Election Code Rule governing chain of custody documentation for this transfer of absentee ballots, nor does it appear that the Secretary of State’s office provided any guidance to Fulton County for securing the chain of custody for these transfers. It is not known whether Fulton County, prepared, used, or stored any chain of custody documents for these transfers.

An estimated 145,000 absentee ballots – between 75,000 and 78,000 of which were originally deposited in drop boxes and between 67,000 and 70,000 of which were sent via the United States Postal Service – were transferred from the centralized counting facility at the State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta to the EPC at some point after the counting of votes for the November 3 election was completed.

Fulton County has not produced any chain of custody documents for these transfers.

It does not appear that the State Board of Elections promulgated any Election Code Rule governing chain of custody documentation for this transfer of absentee ballots nor does it appear that the Secretary of State’s office provided any guidance to Fulton County for securing the chain of custody for these transfers. It is not known whether Fulton County prepared, used, or stored any chain of custody documents for these transfers.

It is also not known at present what chain of custody documents exist for the transfer of the estimated 67,000 to 70,000 absentee ballots that were sent to Fulton County via the United States Postal Service and then transferred to the centralized counting facility at the State Farm Arena.

These absentee ballots are at the center of a lawsuit filed by Garland Favorito and eight other Georgia residents, who have sued Fulton County to produce these ballots for a forensic audit. Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero ruled in May that this audit could proceed, but allowed the plaintiffs to review only the digital images of these 145,000 absentee ballots. Fulton County subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and Judge Amero put the audit on hold. Judge Amero has scheduled a hearing later this month to consider Fulton County’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and stop the audit.

Atlanta’s CBS 46 reported on June 1 that “An alarm was activated at the warehouse used to store more than 145,000 absentee ballots from Fulton County [the EPC located at 1365 English St., NW Atlanta] in the 2020 presidential election. According to a Fulton County spokesperson, the alarm was activated on Saturday.”

The Star News reported: on June 1, “An apparent break-in occurred [on Saturday, May 29] at the ballot-holding warehouse [the EPC located at 1365 English St., NW Atlanta] where the ballots for the pending Fulton County, Georgia audit were housed. According to reports, security guards hired by Fulton County left the facility. About 20 minutes later, the facility’s alarm was set off. A security detail hired by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Bob Cheeley, relayed to reporters that the facility door was wide open.”

To view each of the 30 files containing scans of absentee ballot control forms provided to The Star News by Fulton County separately by date, you can click on the links below.

September 29, 2020 GENERAL ELECTION
Copy of September 29.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qYmmtsMB2JKY0ChaMX_rB9HdVujFpbph/view?usp=sharing

October 1, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 1.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AKxJLG-CsohcGR8iVsFWuHo5OgW9z6GE/view?usp=sharing

October 2, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION  TRANSFER OF BALLOTS
Copy of October 2.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/14DTGh24dSn2nnaxK82K9NRsLyZwi-_Od/view?usp=sharing

October 3, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT TRANSFER FORMS
Copy of October 3.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/17sSOChJd6tYViDZmanikpkVQC_D3c21Z/view?usp=sharing

October 4, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT TRANSFER FORMS
Copy of October 4.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1e_wkmI0etYgQ7n8TfVnUynKqZlD7TnRJ/view?usp=sharing

October 5, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT TRANSFER FORMS
Copy of October 5.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WyE9MJbZwNhL9d3v1HEAigppdQQDQ1IS/view?usp=sharing

October 6, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT TRANSFER FORMS
Copy of October 6.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AR1oB4TLaRlj9evbPEfRWuLhU3s0r3tL/view?usp=sharing

October 8, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 8.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nSfwZH2nzvhUCRL0XqjWiHtLR1VDibFF/view?usp=sharing

October 12, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 12.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RURX8UzOJapnOMGtTJ1m5u6NewaKWHwY/view?usp=sharing

October 13, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 13.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UfWLor6yibkOCNp7yFizrsE8cC9EeUga/view?usp=sharing

October 14, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 14.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZBuKy8bjTx5Ij8BhQACrq-RGxC4n2dfS/view?usp=sharing

October 15, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 15.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_xw84xFWvKvsjADgxP3uN5P0gJi3SDnI/view?usp=sharing

October 16, 2020 DROP BOX BALLOT TRANSFER FORM
Copy of October 16.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15hE1PiXx1grxk9zXvQ_ACkekdxC-SdLI/view?usp=sharing

October 17, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 17.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15B50t1FeLDjNl91l-pxbJKSj0zYvsFY1/view?usp=sharing

October 18, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 18.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iIvsKnBulj9Zwl4lh5Zd8yzrFaPySgYf/view?usp=sharing

October 19, 2020 DROP BOX BALLOT TRANSFER FORM
Copy of October 19.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jK65tl7Nogxq93ikDzLsP_tyXH1RpBaQ/view?usp=sharing

October 21, 2020 BALLOT DROPBOX FORMS
Copy of October 21.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mbZM0NOnv-808nMbxs3ddF1wWrIizB8K/view?usp=sharing

October 22, 2020 BALLOT DROPBOX FORMS
Copy of October 22.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Hg-Npl-vvv_oKYw1By98vr6Ynifku-0S/view?usp=sharing

October 23, 2020 BALLOT DROPBOX FORMS
Copy of October 23.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1syrzPuGdc_R83y7ttteSdZBrN8RAYDU2/view?usp=sharing

October 24, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 24.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wiCwOTHKynVnBDsF-a3r_9SSIprVr7rt/view?usp=sharing

October 25, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 25.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NShH7U7Zfap_61FsJArLOl6bd6-BqjV6/view?usp=sharing

October 26, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 26.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pgvppz0Bm72D1NdmjIMaDXNnjZkUHGdr/view?usp=sharing

October 27, 2020 BALLOT DROPBOX FORMS
Copy of October 27.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15HwIxCN8lpEhq4-F1p2G2ySsthX9f08R/view?usp=sharing

October 28, 2020 BALLOT DROPBOX FORMS
Copy of October 28.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1x9V21xEdfF8talgh0JnCXOWa7ZNDZylV/view?usp=sharing

October 29, 2020 BALLOT DROPBOX FORMS
Copy of October 29.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uOTyAuNC3zcoGTmbI6Apkw3kL_3VBwwB/view?usp=sharing

October 30, 2020 BALLOT DROPBOX FORMS
Copy of October 30.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JDNsxzgqUo8_25O4YNbZmOLqk2gV6mw7/view?usp=sharing

October 31, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of October 31.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1D_8o90Mqe-Ksgwig96q8rG4vOkZQI7se/view?usp=sharing

November 1, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of November 1.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZykwvGjnGWK5oLbg3hx8jmVJ4HEGox9_/view?usp=sharing

November 2, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION DROP BOX BALLOT FORMS
Copy of November 2.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HhzxyQ6md8Os6G9FNcjd930XTKslD9CZ/view?usp=sharing

November 3, 2020 GENERAL/SPECIAL ELECTION BALLOT DROPBOX FORMS
Copy of November 3.pdf
LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kxPBYveJnx-vBPwPd9TRoKBhMa4NpV21/view?usp=sharing

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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Georgia Star News and The Star News Network.

 

 

 

 

 

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