Georgia: Election investigators haven’t found evidence of counterfeit ballots | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia election officials continue to pour cold water on claims of fraudulent ballots in the 2020 election, after investigators failed to find “pristine” counterfeit absentee ballots that were allegedly counted in Fulton County. Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office reported results of the investigation in a court document filed late Tuesday in a case that seeks to inspect Fulton’s 147,000 absentee ballots to find proof of fake votes. “Based upon interviews with the foregoing witnesses, as well as other witnesses who were interviewed during the course of the investigation, and in the inspection of approximately 1,000 absentee ballots and ballot images, the Secretary’s investigators have been unable to substantiate the allegations that fraudulent or counterfeit ballots were counted,” the filing read. Investigators looked into claims made by Suzi Voyles, who worked the county’s risk-limiting audit and claimed to see a batch of “pristine” ballots that looked suspicious. Voyles is now running for Congress as a Republican in the 6th Congressional District. After interviewing Voyles two separate times, investigators checked several batches of absentee ballots that she claimed were marked by computer instead of by hand. But they found no irregularities or any ballots that appeared to be counterfeits.

Full Article: Election investigators haven’t found evidence of counterfeit ballots in Georgia | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia election official takes the fight to Trump | Marc Caputo/Politico

Donald Trump never wastes an opportunity to attack Georgia’s top statewide Republican officeholders for failing to help him overturn the 2020 election results in the key swing state. Brad Raffensperger is the only one who refuses to shut up and take it. Raffensperger, who has borne the brunt of Trump’s wrath as the top election official in the state, is running a damn-the-torpedoes reelection campaign that directly confronts the former president — even though it could cost him the GOP nomination. In a party where Trump’s enemies tend to see their political careers abruptly ended, Raffensperger’s approach is being closely watched by Republicans within the state and outside. “The last internal poll I saw said that 87 percent of Republican primary voters felt like the election was stolen,” said former Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.). “With those kinds of numbers, I don’t see Brad getting through the primary.” If Raffensperger isn’t Trump’s top GOP nemesis, he’s close to it. The Georgia secretary of state refused Trump’s requests to alter the state’s vote count and feuded with the former president over Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. At one point, Raffensperger’s office secretly recorded Trump trying to persuade the secretary of state to “find” votes to make him the winner — a potential crime by Trump that local prosecutors are now investigating. As a result, Trump has showered him with criticism for nearly a year, going so far as to call Raffensperger an “enemy of the people.”

Full Article: Georgia election official takes the fight to Trump – POLITICO

Georgia: Criminal inquiry into Trump’s election interference gathers steam | Peter Stone/The Guardian

Donald Trump is facing increasing legal scrutiny in the crucial battleground state of Georgia over his attempt to sway the 2020 election there, and that heat is now overlapping with investigations in Congress looking at the former president’s efforts to subvert American democracy. A criminal investigation into Trump’s 2 January call prodding Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “just find” him 11,780 votes to block Joe Biden’s win in the state is making headway. The Georgia district attorney running the inquiry is now also sharing information with the House committee investigating the 6 January attack on the Capitol in Washington DC. Meanwhile, a justice department taskforce investigating threats to election officials nationwide has launched inquiries in Georgia, where election officers and workers received death threats or warnings of violence, including some after Trump singled out one official publicly for not backing his baseless fraud claims. Despite these investigations, Trump is still pushing bogus fraud claims in Georgia. Trump wrote to Raffensperger in September asking him to decertify the election results, which is impossible, and with an eye on the 2022 elections is trying to oust Raffensperger, as well as the state’s governor, Brian Kemp, and other top Republicans who defied his demands to block Biden’s win. Former justice department officials and voting rights advocates say Trump’s conspiratorial attacks on Georgia’s election results, and the threats to public officials, need to be investigated diligently, and prosecuted if warranted by law enforcement, to protect election integrity and public officials.

Full Article: Criminal inquiry into Trump’s Georgia election interference gathers steam | Georgia | The Guardian

Georgia: Department of Homeland Security Cyber Office Wants to See Secret Voting Machine Vulnerability Report | Shannon Vavra and Jose Pagliery/The Daily Beast

A cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security has shown interest in seeing a copy of a report alleging “severe” vulnerabilities in Georgia’s voting machines—a report that a federal judge has decided to keep secret. As The Daily Beast reported last month, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the report—authored by a renowned computer security academic—to remain sealed. Although the report only discusses the potential for future election interference, her restrictions appear to be driven by a desire to avoid fueling unfounded right-wing conspiracy theories that Donald Trump beat Joe Biden in 2020. But now the Streisand effect is in full swing, as the report’s secrecy is attracting even more attention from two camps: the federal agency tasked with helping protect elections and state election officials around the country who are also relying on these machines in certain jurisdictions. According to an email exchange filed in court documents, University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman reached out directly to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) one week after The Daily Beast’s reporting and quickly heard back from the department’s election security director. “Yes, CISA would be willing to receive the report regarding possible vulnerabilities in election infrastructure,” wrote Geoffrey Hale, who leads the agency’s so-called “Election Security Initiative,” according to the court filing.

Full Article: Department of Homeland Security Cyber Office Wants to See Secret Voting Machine Vulnerability Report

Georgia: High-stakes election tests Fulton County amid state takeover threat | Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Fulton County is running an election for its life in this November’s race for Atlanta mayor. If the county stumbles, Georgia’s government might take over.
Fulton will try to prove itself after 2020 elections scarred by slow results, long lines, lost absentee ballot requests and constant criticism from Republican President Donald Trump and his supporters. But the county will be challenged by the higher standards required of Georgia’s new voting law, which demands quick ballot counting, greater transparency and investigations of discrepancies. Failure comes with potential consequences, including the replacement of Fulton’s majority-Democratic elections board with an appointee by Republicans. Republican Georgia legislators have already launched a performance review of the heavily Democratic county, a step under the state’s voting law toward ousting its election board, which oversees polling place locations, staffing and certification of results. The Republican-controlled State Election Board could then install its own county elections superintendent.

 

Full Article: High-stakes election tests Fulton amid state takeover threat

Georgia: Trump Committed ‘Multiple Crimes’ With Election Interference, Analysis Suggests | Jason Lemon/CNN

Former President Donald Trump appears to have committed “multiple crimes” in his effort to overturn the 2020 Georgia elections results, a new legal analysis suggests. In early January, The Washington Post reported leaked audio of a call between Trump and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the former president urged the Republican official to “to find 11,780 votes” in his favor to overturn President Joe Biden‘s victory in the southern state. Trump made a similar effort to pressure Georgia’s GOP Governor Brian Kemp to illegally block Biden’s win. “We conclude that Trump’s post-election conduct in Georgia leaves him at substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes,” said the report released Friday by the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, D.C. “These charges potentially include criminal solicitation to commit election fraud; intentional interference with performance of election duties; conspiracy to commit election fraud; criminal solicitation; and state RICO violations,” the legal analysis explained.

Full Article: Trump Committed ‘Multiple Crimes’ With Georgia Election Interference, Analysis Suggests

Georgia  Republican lieutenant governor demonised by Trump reveals what’s behind GOP election suppression laws: ‘They got scared’ | Gino Spocchia/The Independent

A senior Georgia Republican and former target of Donald Trump has delivered a damning analysis of the party’s attempts at restricting voting access, which he says was because GOP leaders “got scared” by defeat in 2020. Geoff Duncan, the Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia, claimed in a book published on Tuesday that Republicans were restricting turnout — and particularly in big swing states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas — because they feared losing in future. The remarks, which were reported by The Washington Post on Wednesday, were published on the same day that Texas’s Republican governor Gregg Abbott signed a bill into law that restricts voting access, and according to campaigners, will disproportionately target Democratic voters. Mr Duncan wrote in his book, called GOP 2.0: “Unfortunately, many held to the theory that if more people vote, Republicans will lose, because they got scared, GOP leaders became too focused on making voting more difficult.” “We had a clear motive and selfish aims,” the Republican, who announced in May that he will not seek re-election, wrote of the voting restrictions introduced in Florida, Georgia, Texas and around the country. “Nobody thought GOP efforts were anything more than attempts to ensure more Republicans won next time.”

Full Article: Senior Republican demonised by Trump reveals what’s behind GOP election suppression laws: ‘They got scared’ | The Independent

Georgia Election Officials Prep For New Voting Law’s Impact | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

It would be easy to lose track of all the changes to Georgia’s voting rules made by the 98-page Senate Bill 202, but for local elections officials, that’s not an option. Across three days this week, hundreds of county supervisors, elections board members, probate judges and staff received hands-on training at the Georgia Association of Voter Registration and Elections Officials conference on Jekyll Island. The session dealing with SB 202 ran for more than an hour, with the Secretary of State’s office going section by section to make sure no alteration goes unnoticed. While Republicans, Democrats and federal lawsuits have zeroed in on a few higher-profile parts of the bill, dozens of pages of it that people aren’t talking about more directly affect how local officials do their jobs.

Full Article: Georgia Election Officials Prep For New Voting Law’s Impact | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia Secretary of State seeks court orders for absentee ballot study | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is going to court to unseal absentee ballot documents for a study of signature verification in last year’s presidential election. The secretary of state’s office confirmed this week that it is seeking court orders to retrieve absentee ballot envelopes in at least 17 counties. Other counties have disclosed election materials without requiring a judge’s approval. The absentee ballot envelopes will be used for a statewide study evaluating the effectiveness of the signature verification process, which compared voters’ signatures to verify their identities. The Georgia General Assembly has since eliminated signature verification, replacing it with new ID requirements. Raffensperger announced the study in December after Republican Donald Trump and state legislators called for further verification of election results that showed he lost to Democrat Joe Biden by less than 12,000 votes in Georgia. An audit of absentee ballot signatures in Cobb County completed later that month found no cases of fraud. Though election officials no longer use signature matching for absentee ballots, the study will evaluate verification methods employed in November’s election, said Trey Hood, a University of Georgia political science professor hired by the secretary of state’s office to conduct the research.

 

Full Article: Judges asked to unseal Georgia absentee ballots for signature study

Georgia: Election reform group seeks ban on Dominion voting technology | Jeremy Beaman/Washington Examiner

A self-described election integrity group sued the state of Georgia on Tuesday, seeking a ban on the use of Dominion Voting Systems touchscreen ballot-marking technology across the state. VoterGA, which led a suit against Fulton County for an inspection of 2020 election ballots, asked the Fulton County Superior Court to declare the state’s use of Dominion Democracy Suite 5.5 Ballot Marking Device voting systems a violation of state elections law and to enjoin the officials from administrating future elections with those devices. Plaintiffs allege Democracy Suite systems fail to comply with the state’s election code, which provides voting systems must “print an elector verifiable paper ballot” and “produce paper ballots which are marked with the elector’s choices in a format readable by the elector.” The machines in use generate a paper ballot that voters can visually verify, but it also produces a QR code on the paper ballot reflecting the voter’s choices, which cannot be visually verified, according to the lawsuit. Ballot scanners then read the QR code to determine a voter’s selections, and the “written portion of the paper ballot is not used for counting or re-counting the elector’s intent,” the suit said, alleging a legal violation.

Full Article: Election reform group seeks ban on Dominion voting technology in Georgia

Georgia investigation of Fulton elections criticized by voting groups | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Voting rights groups called an inquiry of Fulton County’s elections a “hostile takeover” that threatens democracy, saying Monday that they will fight attempts by Georgia’s government to replace the county’s elections board. The groups united near the Capitol after the State Election Board last week appointed a performance review panel to investigate problems in Fulton, the state’s most populous county and one that backed Democrat Joe Biden over Republican Donald Trump with 73% of the vote. Fulton’s elections were fraught with problems last year, such as long linesundelivered absentee ballots and conspiracy theories, but voting organizations say the county is being scapegoated by Georgia’s Republican majority. “We’re taking action to make sure that democracy is protected and that our right to vote is protected,” said Helen Butler, executive director for the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, a civil rights organization. “We do not intend for our local boards of elections to be taken over in this process.” The organizations criticized the appointment of three white men — two Republicans and a Democrat — to investigate problems in a county that’s 62% nonwhite.

Full Article: Georgia investigation of Fulton elections criticized by voting groups

Georgia; Cybersecurity concerns raised over ballot marking devices | Doug Richards/11alive

A new court brief is sounding an alarm from cybersecurity experts about Georgia’s voting system. It suggests that cities like Atlanta use hand-marked paper ballots in elections this fall instead of the Dominion voting machines purchased by the state in 2019. This critique is separate and distinct from the unsubstantiated complaints that claimed election fraud in November. The concerns posed by cybersecurity experts say Georgia is asking for trouble by continuing to use the state’s voting machines. “I’m one of the cybersecurity professionals that think the more computers we have in the (election) system, the more vulnerable it is,” said Dr. Rich DeMillo, the founder of Georgia Tech’s new College of Cybersecurity. DeMillo says the state’s voting system can be hacked through networks or by infecting a machine or a printer in a voting booth. Another computer hacking expert, J. Alex Halderman, wrote a court brief detailing how he experimentally hacked a few of Georgia’s voting machines with the blessing of a federal judge. The court sealed the report to avoid tipping off real hackers how to do it. “My report demonstrates that Georgia’s (ballot marking devices) can be manipulated so that both the barcodes and the printed (ballot) text indicate the same fraudulent selections. No audit or recount can catch such fraud because all records of the voter’s intent would be wrong,” Halderman explained in a brief referencing the report.

 

Full Article: Cybersecurity concerns raised over Georgia voting system | 11alive.com

Georgia: Good Luck to the Judge Who Sealed a Ballot Machine Vulnerability Report | Dell Cameron/Gizmodo

Facing a quintessential damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don’t scenario, a federal judge in Georgia has sealed a 25,000-word report said to outline vulnerabilities in the state’s ballot-marking machines. The decision was seemingly made out of fear that the contents would add fuel to rampant conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election; a topic which is not even broached by its author. The Daily Beast, reporting the judge’s decision early Friday, said the report by J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, outlines specific vulnerabilities that, to quote the professor, “allow attackers to change votes despite the state’s purported defenses.” In a signed declaration, Halderman said he’d discovered “multiple severe security flaws” that could be exploited using malware, either with temporary physical access to the machine or by injecting it remotely via election management systems. Halderman writes: “I explain in detail how such malware, once installed, could alter voters’ votes while subverting all the procedural protections practiced by the State, including accepted testing, hash validation, logic and accuracy testing, external firmware validation, and risk-limiting audits (RLAs). Finally, I describe working proof-of-concept malware that I am prepared to demonstrate in court.”

Full Article: Judge Seals Ballot Machine Vulnerability Report in Georgia, Uh Oh

Georgia: How Does Election Board Takeover Law Work? Not Quickly | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

The latest battle over Georgia’s massive new voting law is over sections that allow state officials to temporarily take over county elections boards, with Republicans eyeing Fulton County in particular. But a GPB News analysis of the measures included in SB 202 suggest a takeover of Fulton is unlikely to happen any time soon — if at all. Fulton County has been the epicenter for discussions over the 2020 election, with some Republicans advancing conspiracies and falsehoods that say fraud and wrongdoing cost former President Trump the state’s electoral votes. Although three different counts of the votes confirmed the results, a state-appointed monitor found no evidence of fraud, and numerous accusations have been debunked, Georgia’s most populous county has not done itself any favors with the actual problems and long lines that have plagued parts of the process over the years. Now, Republican lawmakers want to trigger an investigation process that could see the five-member appointed elections board temporarily suspended and replaced by a single person appointed by the State Election Board.

Full Article: How Does Georgia’s Election Board Takeover Law Work? Not Quickly | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia Republicans edge toward a takeover of elections in Fulton County, the state’s largest. | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

Republicans in Georgia’s General Assembly have requested a performance review of the top election official in Fulton County, the first step in a possible takeover of the county’s electoral process that could give the Republican-led legislature more control over an area with the largest concentration of Democratic voters in the state. The request, submitted in a letter on Tuesday by State Senator Butch Miller and signed by about two dozen other Republican state senators, calls for a panel review of Richard Barron, the county election director, over what the lawmakers described as a failure to properly perform risk-limiting audits, a process that helps ensure the correct results and security, after the 2020 election. “We do so as a measure of last resort, having failed to adequately assuage the concern that we, as elected officials, have regarding the integrity of the Fulton County elections process,” Mr. Miller wrote in the letter. Fulton County, which includes much of Atlanta, has a record of problems with its elections. Most recently, its June 2020 primary contest was marred by voting machine difficulties that were exacerbated by the small size and poor training of its staff, causing lines to stretch for hours across the county.

 

Full Article: Georgia G.O.P. Edges Toward Election Takeover in Fulton County – The New York Times

Georgia: Fulton County elections takeover would make history | Ben Brasch/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Experts say Georgia Republicans’ request to audit the elections of Democrat-heavy Fulton County is a historical first in the national story of partisanship invading elections management. A letter first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday shows two dozen state senators calling for a performance review of Fulton elections chief Richard Barron using provisions from Senate Bill 202. Republicans say they are trying to protect Fulton’s voters from the county’s decades of elections mismanagement. Democrats view this effort as a hostile takeover to alter elections results. Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts wrote a letter to Fulton’s legislative delegation leaders Thursday asking them to hold a hearing “to ascertain the legitimacy of this request.” “It is my ultimate fear that this request performance review could be occurring for political reasons and that Fulton County’s voters will be the ones who bear the cost,” Pitts wrote. Gabe Sterling, COO with the Secretary of State’s office, pushed back on that accusation at an Atlanta Press Club event Thursday. “The reality of it is not the state Legislature can come in and overturn results, and that’s what many people on the left side of the spectrum have said about the law,” Sterling said. “It’s simply not true.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Fulton has been “failing” at elections since 1993 and now Georgia has a method to ensure fair elections.

 

Full Article: Fulton elections takeover would make history

Georgia study finds 49% of voters checked printed-out paper ballots | Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia added paper ballots to in-person voting last year. Less than half of voters checked them for accuracy. That’s according to a study commissioned by the secretary of state’s office, which found that 49% of Election Day voters spent at least one second looking at their printed-out paper ballots, a feature of Georgia’s $133 million voting system. In the previous 18 years, votes in Georgia were stored on memory cards, with no paper ballots for recounts or audits. The findings show both the value and limits of voting touchscreens, called ballot-marking devices, which are connected to printers to create paper ballots. While paper ballots can help voters detect errors and the possibility of tampering, many Georgians didn’t bother looking at them. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the study by requesting it through the Georgia Open Records Act. “The more voters checking their ballots, the better. It would be good if that percentage kept going up,” said Trey Hood, a University of Georgia political science professor who co-wrote the study. “Half of any group is a large percentage, but it also shows you that there’s a whole other half who aren’t checking their ballots.”

 

Full Article: Georgia study finds 49% of voters checked printed-out paper ballots

Georgia: Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to overturn Senate elections | David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Henry County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the runoff elections that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. The lawsuit aimed to void the election of Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate. But Superior Court Judge Brian Amero rejected the effort at a hearing Monday. It’s the latest failure in a series of unsuccessful lawsuits that challenged Democratic victories in Georgia, including President Joe Biden’s narrow victory over former President Donald Trump. The latest lawsuit contested the Senate election results and sought a new election to be conducted on paper ballots. The plaintiff, Fulton County resident Michael Daugherty, said the senate election was marred by misconduct, raising doubts that Warnock and Ossoff were the true winners. He cited allegations of improper ballot counting at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on election night in November. Those allegations were investigated and debunked by the Secretary of State’s Office. Among other things, he also said the state’s Dominion Voting System machines did not accurately record the results — claims that election officials say are false and have led to defamation lawsuits against some of the attorneys who have spread them. The defendants in the lawsuit included Warnock and Ossoff, as well as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the State Election Board, and election boards in Fulton, DeKalb and Coffee counties. In court briefs and arguments, they said Daugherty’s arguments have already been rejected by judges in other lawsuits. They said the problems he cited occurred in November, not during the January runoff. They argued the election challenge was filed too late and that the lawsuit was not properly served on Warnock and Ossoff.

Full Article: Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to overturn Georgia Senate elections

Georgia: U.S. Senate field hearing seeks momentum for election bills | Mark Niesse and Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Attempting to revive stalled federal voting rights bills, U.S. Senate Democrats built their case Monday in Georgia by using the state’s voting law as an example of the kinds of restrictions they’re trying to stop. The rare field hearing of the Senate Rules Committee collected testimony from voting rights advocates and Georgia’s two Democratic Party senators who spoke against new voter ID requirements for absentee voting, limits on ballot drop boxes and the possibility of Republican-led takeovers of local elections management. “They’re trying to find new ways to mess with the fundamental rights of citizens to vote,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota and chairwoman for the Senate Rules Committee. “The way you get at that, you’re supposed to find salvation from the Constitution and the federal government. This is that moment.” But the senators didn’t provide a path forward to break an impasse over voting bills that would impose national standards for election access and restore federal oversight of voting laws. Senate Republicans blocked debate on sweeping voting legislation last month, and Democrats have been unable to overcome filibuster rules that require a 60-vote threshold for measures to advance in the evenly divided chamber. Georgia is one of 17 states with Republican legislatures that have passed voting laws after last year’s election and Donald Trump’s false claims that there was widespread fraud. Three vote counts, both by machine and by hand, showed that Democrat Joe Biden won Georgia by about 12,000 votes. Republicans declined to participate in the hearing and instead shaped their own narrative about Georgia’s voting law.

Full Article: U.S. Senate field hearing in Georgia seeks momentum for election bills

Georgia: Some ballots initially double-counted in Fulton County before recount | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A duplicate write-in vote for singer Kanye West was a big clue that some absentee ballots had been counted twice in Fulton County. Digital ballot images made public under Georgia’s new voting law show nearly 200 ballots — including one for West — that election officials initially scanned two times last fall before a recount. There’s no indication any vote for president was counted more than once in official results. The discovery of identical ballots provides evidence to back up allegations of problems in the presidential election, but on a relatively small scale that had no bearing on the final certified count. A group of voters seeking to prove the election was fraudulent say double-counting is just the beginning of what they hope to find. … “It’s something that should never happen,” said Mark Lindeman, acting co-director for Verified Voting, an election integrity organization focused on voting technology. “I’m not trying to make excuses for a blunder, but under really difficult circumstances, people do things that are inexplicable, and that seems to be the case here.” Lindeman said he couldn’t recall another example of ballots being scanned twice anywhere in the country. He suggested stronger ballot tracking practices, with ballots divided into batches with unique identifying labels and cover sheets. Some jurisdictions imprint serial numbers on absentee ballots as they’re scanned for use during audits.

Full Article: Search for election fraud in Georgia finds 200 ballots scanned twice

Georgia: Trump’s Revenge on Brad Raffensperger | Russell Berman/The Atlantic

To many Americans, Brad Raffensperger is one of the heroes of the 2020 election. Georgia’s secretary of state, who is a conservative Republican, refused then-President Donald Trump’s direct pleas to “find” the votes that would overturn his defeat in the state. “I’ve shown that I’m willing to stand in the gap,” Raffensperger told me last week, “and I’ll make sure that we have honest elections.” As he bids for a second term as Georgia’s top election administrator, however, Raffensperger is not so much standing in the gap as he is falling through it. A Trump loyalist in Congress, Representative Jody Hice, is challenging him in a primary with the former president’s enthusiastic endorsement, and the state Republican Party voted last month to censure him over his handling of the election. GOP strategists in the state give Raffensperger no chance of prevailing in next May’s primary. “I would literally bet my house on it. He’s not going to win it,” Jay Williams, a Republican consultant in Georgia unaffiliated with either candidate, told me. Another operative, speaking anonymously to avoid conflicts in the race, offered a similar assessment: “His goose was cooked the day Georgia’s presidential-election margin was 12,000 votes and Trump turned on him.” Besides the one at Foggy Bottom, secretaries of state are not supposed to be famous. The job at the state level isn’t high-stakes diplomacy but mostly mundane administration. Before Raffensperger, the last secretary of state to find the national spotlight was Katherine Harris, whose handling (or mishandling, depending on one’s perspective) of the disputed 2000 election in Florida earned her a few punch lines on Saturday Night Live and two unremarkable terms in Congress.

Full Article: Trump’s Revenge on Brad Raffensperger in Georgia – The Atlantic

Georgia voting law survives first court battle before federal judge | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge denied an effort to invalidate parts of Georgia’s voting law Wednesday, the first court ruling upholding new rules passed after last year’s elections. U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee wrote in his order that he wouldn’t “change the law in the ninth inning” amid for the state House. Boulee reserved judgment about future elections. The lawsuit by the Coalition for Good Governance, an election security organization, opposed new requirements that voters request absentee ballots at least 11 days before election day, a deadline that limited the time available to vote by mail in the runoffs. The case also asked for court intervention to prevent restrictions on election observation. “Election administrators have prepared to implement the challenged rules, have implemented them at least to some extent and now would have to grapple with a different set of rules in the middle of the election,” Boulee wrote in an 11-page order. “The risk of disrupting the administration of an ongoing election … outweigh the alleged harm to plaintiffs at this time.” The plaintiffs had sought an injunction to halt enforcement of the voting law, Senate Bill 202, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed March 25. Though Boulee ruled against the plaintiffs’ request for immediate action, the underlying lawsuit against Georgia’s voting law remains pending in federal court. The case is different from the voting rights litigation filed last month by the U.S. Department of Justice that opposes voter ID requirements, ballot drop box limits, provisional ballot rejections and a ban on volunteers handing out food and water to voters waiting in line. This lawsuit, one of eight filed against the voting law, opposed prohibitions on observing voters casting ballots on brightly lit touchscreens, reporting problems to anyone but election officials, estimating absentee ballots cast and photographing voted ballots.

Full Article: Georgia voting law survives first court battle before federal judge

Georgia: How Pro-Trump Local News Sites Keep Pushing 2020 Election Misinformation | Stephen Fowler/GPB

If you don’t follow politics in Georgia closely — or even if you do — you might be forgiven for not knowing much about The Georgia Star News. Founded just after the November election when President Biden narrowly flipped the state by about 12,000 votes, it looks like a regular news website with a lifestyle section, a widget for the weather and stories about local and national goings-on. But the site is more than just a local news outlet. It’s part of the Star News Network — an expanding network of pro-Trump sites seeking to influence local politics with conservative opinion by mimicking the look and feel of local newspaper sites. The group operates eight state-focused news sites, including in key Electoral College states such as Michigan, Arizona, Ohio and Florida. Steve Bannon, a former strategist for former President Donald Trump, described The Georgia Star News in a radio interview as content “you can’t get anywhere else.” “We’re not Conservative Inc.,” he said. “It’s very populist, it’s very nationalist, it’s very MAGA, it’s very American First.”

Full Article: How Pro-Trump Local News Sites Keep Pushing 2020 Election Misinformation – capradio.org

Georgia: Federal judge hears arguments seeking halt to parts of new voting law | Maya T. Prabhu and Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge heard arguments Thursday opposing portions of Georgia’s new voting law, with plaintiffs asking the court to rule as some state voters head to the polls for special election runoffs later this month. It’s unclear when U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee will make a decision. Eight lawsuits have been filed against the voting law Republican legislators passed earlier this year, and Thursday’s arguments were the first on the measure made before a federal judge. Thursday’s case is different from the voting rights litigation filed last week by the U.S. Department of Justice that opposes voter ID requirements, ballot drop box limits, provisional ballot rejections and a ban on volunteers handing out food and water to voters waiting in line. Brought by the Coalition for Good Governance, an election security organization, the lawsuit opposes a requirement that voters request absentee ballots at least 11 days before election day, leaving little time to apply to vote absentee in a quick runoff election.

Full Article: Federal judge hears arguments seeking halt to parts of new Georgia voting law

Georgia: Justice Department sues over new voting law | Tia Mitchell, David Wickert and Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The U.S. Justice Department sued Georgia on Friday over a new election law that includes restrictions on voting, setting up a legal showdown over Republican-led changes that President Joe Biden and other Democrats cast as disproportionately harmful to Black voters. The challenge seeks to overturn portions of Senate Bill 202, the 98-page rewrite of election rules that imposes new voter identification requirements, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, shifts early voting days and gives the Republican-controlled Legislature more oversight in elections. It’s the first major voting rights case brought by the Justice Department under the Biden administration, and it comes days after the U.S. Senate failed to advance a measure that would have blunted the impact of changes in Georgia and other states that adopted ballot restrictions after the 2020 election. The complaint is the eighth lawsuit overall that seeks to overturn the law, though the federal government can devote far more resources than the various voting rights groups that brought previous challenges. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland framed the court challenge as a way to meet promises to aggressively protect voting rights. “Where we believe the civil rights of Americans have been violated,” Garland said, “we will not hesitate to act.”

Full Article: DOJ files suit to overturn parts of new Georgia voting law

Georgia judge throws out most of case alleging counterfeit ballots in Fulton County – ruling may scuttle absentee ballot inspection | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A judge dismissed most of a lawsuit Thursday seeking a deep inspection of Fulton County absentee ballots from last year’s presidential election, a review pursued by voters trying to find fraud. Superior Court Judge Brian Amero’s ruling jeopardizes the prospects for the ballot inspection to continue, though a plaintiff in the lawsuit said he believes it will soon move forward. The case is an attempt to scrutinize 147,000 absentee ballots based on claims by Republicans who suspected there were counterfeit ballots during a manual recount of November’s election results. Election officials have said there’s no indication of fraud after multiple recounts and investigations. An attorney for the Fulton elections board said the ruling prevents the possibility for an in-person review of absentee ballots using high-powered microscopes in the Georgia World Congress Center, as sought by those who believe fraud produced Democrat Joe Biden’s 12,000-vote win in Georgia over Republican Donald Trump. “That litigation is finished,” said Don Samuel, a prominent Atlanta attorney hired by the Fulton elections board. “Is there going to be an audit? Not right now. … There’s no discovery permitted. There’s no lawsuit pending anymore.”

Full Article: Judge’s ruling may scuttle Georgia absentee ballot inspection

Georgia: Judge to decide fate of Fulton County absentee ballot inspection | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A search for fraud in Georgia’s election was about to begin in a Fulton County warehouse last month, when a judge planned to set ground rules to inspect over 145,000 absentee ballots. But the ballot review stalled because the county asked the judge to throw out the case. Both sides will have their day in court Monday, when Superior Court Judge Brian Amero considers whether and how to move forward. Election skeptics will argue they need an opportunity to search for possible counterfeit ballots. Fulton officials will ask the judge to put an end to the quest to undermine Democrat Joe Biden’s nearly 12,000-vote win over Republican Donald Trump. “We should be able to prove whether the election results were correct or not. They’re certainly under question,” said Garland Favorito, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. “If something nefarious happened, we can prevent it in the future.” Attorneys for Fulton have argued that the case is a baseless and flawed attempt to use the courts to intervene in an election that was settled seven months ago. Election officials have repeatedly said there’s no evidence of significant fraud, and two recounts validated the results. The secretary of state’s office is investigating over 100 complaints about last year’s general election, and even if all of them exposed invalid votes, Biden still would have won.

Full Article: Case seeking evidence of counterfeit ballots in Georgia goes to court

Georgia: Reports detail tense moments with election monitors | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

As a pair of election workers sat at a table counting ballots during an audit of Georgia’s presidential election in November, no fewer than eight Republican monitors swarmed around them, hurling accusations of voter fraud and taking photos in violation of the rules. This was one of several tense situations involving party monitors that independent election monitor Carter Jones documented in reports produced during the several months he spent observing election operations in Fulton County to ensure that officials in the state’s most populous county were complying with a consent agreement. “The party audit monitors seemed to feel as though they were detectives or sheriffs and that they were going to personally ‘crack the case’ and uncover a stolen election,” Jones wrote in a report submitted to the State Election Board on Nov. 20. “This is a gross misunderstanding of their role as monitors and certainly made the audit process more contentious — not to mention more difficult for the auditors attempting to count amidst the commotion of a full-scale argument.” While transparency is imperative throughout the election process and monitors are necessary, political parties must do a better job of vetting and training their monitors and explaining exactly what their role is, Jones wrote. He also suggested that repeat offenders be prohibited from serving as monitors in the future.

Full Article: Reports detail tense moments with Georgia election monitors

Georgia 2020 Election Deniers Setting Sights On Higher Office | Stephen Fowler and David Armstrong/Georgia Public Broadcasting

For the past seven months, a group of Republican lawmakers have engaged in efforts to cast doubt on Georgia’s election integrity and overturn the results of a 2020 presidential race that was counted three times — each count upholding President Joe Biden’s victory. Now, some are parlaying their election skepticism into bids for higher office, launching campaigns for Congress, the governor’s mansion and the office of the top election official in the state, according to a GPB News and Georgia News Lab analysis. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, as confirmed by the original tally, a hand-counted risk-limiting audit of all the nearly five million votes for president, and a machine recount requested by the Trump campaign. But that hasn’t stopped prominent supporters of former President Donald Trump from promoting falsehoods about absentee ballot fraud, floating claims of illegal voting and parroting allegations of conspiracies that have been thoroughly debunked by election officials. Last month, a lawsuit backed by a well-known conspiracy theorist seeking to inspect 147,000 absentee ballots in Fulton County for evidence of counterfeits received the endorsement of former Sen. Kelly Loeffler and the state Republican Party. There is no evidence of counterfeit ballots or any other wrongdoing among Fulton’s absentee votes, and most of the allegations in the suit have long since been addressed by elections officials.

Full Article: Georgia 2020 Election Deniers Setting Sights On Higher Office | Georgia Public Broadcasting

How Georgia Could Conduct A Forensic Audit Of November’s Election | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

… An ongoing lawsuit in Fulton County seeks to unseal more than 145,000 absentee ballots only and inspect them for evidence of counterfeit or fraudulent ballots, but that is currently on hold after all of the defendants in the case filed motions to dismiss. But based on a GPB News analysis of Georgia election rules and practices, extensive reporting on Georgia’s new election system and interviews with elections experts, there is no way to “forensically audit” absentee ballots or votes printed out by ballot-marking devices, and numerous safeguards are in place to verify only legal votes are counted. Additionally, any “audit” done at this point could not alter the outcome or any election results, unlike pre-certification post-election audits many states conduct. The term “forensic audit” is traditionally used in the financial world to uncover embezzlement or other financial crimes by combing through minute details of accounts. These issues are traced to individual transactions or people — but that is not possible with elections. The right to a secret ballot means after a voter’s eligibility is confirmed (either in person or with signatures and identification for mail-in ballots), officials can no longer tie a ballot back to a specific person. This is by design. Amber McReynolds is a former elections director in the all-mail state of Colorado and the CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and current member of the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service. She said Republicans and other pro-Trump groups pushing for these so-called audits are asking for things that don’t exist, and are furthering conspiracy theories that show a lack of understanding about the secure election processes used across the country.

Full Article: Here’s How Georgia Could Conduct A Forensic Audit Of November’s Election | Georgia Public Broadcasting