Lingering concerns about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results have prompted calls for recounts and audits in jurisdictions across the country, and a judge in Georgia has just permitted the unsealing and examination of the signatures on roughly 145,000 absentee ballots in Fulton County amid a push to ensure election integrity and safety, as Breitbart reports.
In response to a lawsuit initiated last year by the group Voters Organized for Trusted Election Results in Georgia, Judge Brian Amero issued a one-page ruling providing that “petitioners shall be…permitted to inspect and scan said ballots in accordance with protocols and practices that will be set forth by further order of the court,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The advocacy group behind the litigation claimed in affidavits that “counterfeit ballots” in Fulton County were “counted and recounted,” casting doubts on the veracity of the eventual outcome, as NBC News noted.
Judge Amero’s ruling was lauded by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has been the subject of intense criticism from former President Donald Trump and his supporters for his alleged failure to investigate voter fraud claims with sufficient intensity.
In response to the decision, Raffensperger said, “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.”
Outspoken Raffensperger critic Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) also welcomed the ruling, saying in statement that “voter confidence in our election system is the bedrock of our republic,” adding that “inconsistencies in Fulton County’s November 2020 absentee ballots cast serious doubt on voters’ faith in our elections.”
Loeffler, together with the petitioners in the lawsuit, pointed specifically to claims of vote-counting malfeasance at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta last fall, with the senator lamenting that “poll watchers were told by election officials that counting had stopped for the night, only for surveillance video to reveal it resumed in the overnight hours,” as the Journal-Constitution noted.
Because the results in Georgia have long since been certified and subjected to a series of recounts, the absentee ballot review cannot overturn the election outcome, according to the Journal-Constitution. However, proponents of the examination argue that it is an important step in helping, as Loeffler put it, “to reassure Georgians that their voices are heard and their votes are counted.”
Though some might argue that the process of examining these ballots is a purely academic exercise with little practical effect, the fact is that the inconsistencies, eleventh-hour rule changes, and widespread claims of misconduct related to the 2020 vote in multiple states all require thorough investigation if confidence in our electoral system is ever to be revived.