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Georgia county judge may unseal absentee ballots for fraud probe

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A Georgia judge might unseal absentee ballots in Fulton County so that a government watchdog can investigate allegations of voting fraud from the 2020 presidential election. An overwhelming majority of Atlanta lies within Fulton County.

A lawsuit filed in the Fulton County Superior Court alleges that fraudulent ballots were cast and other irregularities occurred as workers counted ballots at State Farm Arena on Election Night, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday. Ultimately, those claims were investigated and rebuked by the secretary of state’s office. Although, the judge overseeing the case—Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero—said he’s willing to order the ballots to be unsealed and examined by experts who Garland Favorito, a voting-integrity advocate, hired.

The Peach State was one of the most hotly contested swing states in the 2020 presidential election, as well as the subsequent U.S. Senate runoff elections in January. The state narrowly went for Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential race and for the Democratic challengers by slightly bigger margins in the two Senate runoffs, marking the first time in decades that historically red Georgia went blue.

RELATED: 2022 Midterms: David Perdue won’t run against Raphael Warnock

Amero at a Monday hearing requested a detailed scheme for ensuring the secrecy and security of the ballots. In accordance with state law, the ballots are under seal in the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk’s Office.

“We want to do this in such a way that dispels rumors and disinformation and sheds light,” Amero said at the hearing. “The devil’s in the details.”

Favorito’s case is part of a wave of lawsuits that have claimed fraud or misconduct in the November 3 presidential election. While some aimed to overturn Biden’s victory in the state, others aimed to alter election rules for the Senate runoffs. However, none of these succeeded.

Nonetheless, the allegations of fraud have prompted a wave of controversial legislation in the Georgia legislature that could restrict voting on the grounds of election security. These bills have come under intense scrutiny from civil liberties groups, arguing that these would disenfranchise voters of color.

Last week, the watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, accusing his office of violating the Georgia Open Records Act. In November, Judicial Watch asked for documents pertaining to a 2020 settlement agreement that required additional steps before absentee ballots could be thrown out for mismatched voter signatures. They also asked for documents pertaining to the processing of absentee ballots in November.

The group’s case, filed in the Fulton County Superior Court, says Raffensperger’s office still hasn’t provided the requested documents.

Read the full original Atlanta Journal-Constitution report here.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Elections

New York City Dems Push Law to Allow 800,000 Non-Citizens to Vote in Municipal Elections

The New York City Council will vote on December 9 on a law to allow green-card holders and residents with work permits to vote in municipal elections

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Election

New York’s Democratic party is battling over the constitutionality of voter laws. On December 9, the New York City Council will vote on a law to allow green-card holders and residents with work permits to vote in municipal elections.

“Around 808,000 New York City residents who have work permits or are lawful permanent residents would be eligible to vote under the legislation, which has the support of 34 of 51 council members, a veto-proof majority” reports Fox News.

“It’s important for the Democratic Party to look at New York City and see that when voting rights are being attacked, we are expanding voter participation,” Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a sponsor of the bill and Democrat who represents the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, told the New York Times. Rodriguez immigrated from the Dominican Republic and became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

Fox News reports:

Laura Wood, Chief Democracy Officer for the mayor’s office, said at a hearing on the bill in September that the law could violate the New York State Constitution, which states that voters must be U.S. citizens age 18 or older.

Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated he could veto the bill following the September hearing.
“We’ve done everything that we could possibly get our hands on to help immigrant New Yorkers—including undocumented folks—but…I don’t believe it is legal,” de Blasio told WNYC radio at the time.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams, however, submitted testimony to the September hearing in favor of the bill. “In a democracy, nothing is more fundamental than the right to vote and to say who represents you and your community in elected office…Currently, almost one million New Yorkers are denied this foundational right.”

The legislation was first introduced two years ago, but had not yet gained traction due to the legal concerns.

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