A former elections supervisor in rural Coffee County, Ga., has told The Washington Post that she opened her offices to a businessman active in the election-denier movement to help investigate results she did not trust in the weeks after President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat. Trump had carried the conservative county by 40 points, but elections supervisor Misty Hampton said she remained suspicious of Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. Hampton made a video that went viral soon after the election, claiming to show that Dominion Voting System machines, the ones used in her county, could be manipulated. She said in interviews that she hoped the Georgia businessman who visited later, Scott Hall, and others who accompanied him could help identify vulnerabilities and prove “that this election was not done true and correct.” Hampton said she could not remember when the visit occurred or what Hall and the others did when they were there. She said they did not enter a room that housed the county’s touch-screen voting machines, but she said she did not know whether they entered the room housing the election management system server, the central computer used to tally election results. “I’m not a babysitter,” she told The Post. Hall, who owns a bail bond business, did not respond to requests for comment.
Georgia: Many harried election officials are eyeing the exit. But new workers are stepping up | Stephen Fowler/NPR
When Dorothy Glisson, president of Georgia’s association of election officials, scanned the room at a conference last month to highlight years of service in voting, there were only a few grizzled veterans with decades of experience under their belts. In fact, the bustling convention center near the campus of the University of Georgia was teeming with relatively fresh faces from across the state. “I would say that we’ve probably got as many first-time attendees as we do all of the others put together, so that tells us something,” Glisson said to a crowd of about 500. The event brought together local board members, election supervisors and staff for three days of training — on everything from conducting post-election audits to verifying absentee ballots under newly passed rules — before frenzied preparations for the state’s May 24 primary election begin in earnest. And the new faces in the crowd underscored that while many election workers are eyeing the exits amid a contentious national environment, a new crop of public servants is stepping in to fill the void.
Georgia senators vote to strip controversial parts of elections bill | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Georgia Senate committee voted unanimously Tuesday to remove every contentious proposal from a broad elections bill, discarding plans for GBI fraud investigations, paper ballot inspections and funding limitations. The decision to advance a stripped-down bill sets up a showdown in the final days of this year’s legislative session, when lawmakers will attempt to negotiate a final version. The Senate Ethics Committee scrapped much of the bill after hearing testimony Monday from several county election officials who opposed strict ballot handling rules and restrictions on outside donations from nonprofit organizations. One elections supervisor called its requirements little more than “security theater.” Senators shrank the 39-page bill to a two-page measure Tuesday, leaving only a requirement that businesses give workers up to two hours off to vote either on election day or during three weeks of early voting. Under current law, workers are only entitled to time off to vote on election day.
Georgia Local Election Officials Oppose G.O.P. Election Bill | Maya King and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times
A year ago, when Georgia Republicans passed a mammoth law of election measures and voting restrictions, many local election officials felt frustrated and sidelined, as their concerns about resources, ballot access and implementation went largely ignored. This year, Republicans have returned with a new bill — and the election officials are pushing back. A bipartisan coalition of county-level election administrators — the people who carry out the day-to-day work of running elections — is speaking out against the latest Republican measure. At a legislative hearing on Monday, they warned that the proposal would create additional burdens on a dwindling force of election workers and that the provisions could lead to more voter intimidation. “You’re going to waste time, and you’re going to cause me to lose poll workers,” said Joel Natt, a Republican member of the Forsyth County board of elections, referring to a provision in the bill that he said would force workers to count hundreds of blank sheets of paper. “I have 400 poll workers that work for our board. That is 400 people that I could see telling me after May, ‘Have a nice life,’ and it’s hard enough to keep them right now.” Among other provisions, the bill would expand the reach of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation over election crimes; limit private funding of elections; empower partisan poll watchers; and establish new requirements for tracking absentee ballots as they are verified and counted.
Georgia’s race to oversee voting pits an election denier against an election defender | Miles Parks/NPR
Over cheeseburgers, onion rings and fried chicken salads, people shared what they’d heard. Something “crooked” was going on across the country. In California, for instance, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom hadn’t actually won his recall election last year by the 3 million votes that was reported. “They found boxes of ballots months later, all for the other guy,” someone whispered. The TV over the bar at the Flying Machine restaurant in Lawrenceville, Ga., was turned to Fox News, and Republicans gathered to talk about what they’ve been talking about for much of the past year and a half: voter fraud. “How many feel that the 2020 elections were a little sketchy?!” asked DeKalb County GOP Chair Marci McCarthy, to cheers. “Everybody should be raising their hands!” The restaurant event was the 12th and final stop in a three-day “election integrity” tour put on by one of the nation’s preeminent election deniers, Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga. Hice objected to the 2020 election results at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, just hours after it had been stormed by a violent pro-Trump mob. And now, the former pastor is running to oversee voting in Georgia as the secretary of state.
Georgia: Atlanta DA granted request for grand jury to probe Trump alleged 2020 election interference | Kevin Johnson/USA Today
Judges granted a Georgia prosecutor’s request to seat a special grand jury to help criminally investigate former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results during the waning days of his administration. Atlanta-area District Attorney Fani Willis made the request last week, citing the need for additional authority to compel witnesses to testify by subpoena. In a brief order Monday, Fulton County Chief Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher said a majority of local judges agreed to authorize the panel for a year’s term beginning May 2. “The special purpose grand jury shall be authorized to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia, as set forth in the request of the District Attorney … ” the order stated. Willis has said that her office had “received information indicating a reasonable probability” that the 2020 election was “subject to possible criminal disruptions.” “As a result, our office has opened an investigation into any coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections in this state,” Willis said in a formal request for the panel.
Georgia buys new voter registration system after long lines in 2020 | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia is replacing a laggy statewide voter registration system that caused colossal lines during early voting in the 2020 election. The new technology could prevent similar waits in this year’s races for governor and the U.S. Senate. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday that the state will partner with Salesforce, a San Francisco-based software company, to build a system that will store registration records for Georgia’s 7.7 million voters, check in early voters and process absentee ballot information. The new system, nicknamed GaRVIS for the Georgia Registered Voter Information System, will take the place of the state’s ElectioNet technology that buckled under the weight of high turnout and unprecedented absentee ballot adoption in October 2020. Wait times exceeded eight hours at the start of early voting before election officials and the state’s prior vendor, Louisiana-based Civix, added capacity to the system so it could handle the load. Election Day went more smoothly, with wait times averaging less than three minutes.
In defending itself against a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, Fox News is seeking access to an expert report filed under seal in a separate Georgia lawsuit that the author says details vulnerabilities in the company’s touchscreen voting machines. Election security expert J. Alex Halderman spent 12 weeks examining the voting machines used in Georgia and more than a dozen other states and said he identified “multiple severe security flaws” in the machines that would allow attackers to install malicious software. His report was filed in federal court in Atlanta in July in support of a long-running lawsuit filed by election security advocates and voters who want Georgia to scrap the electronic voting machines in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. Dominion in March filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News in Delaware, where both companies are incorporated, arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election. A judge last month rejected Fox’s motion to dismiss the suit. The lawsuit cites Halderman, saying he “told Fox explicitly, ‘There is absolutely no evidence, none, that Dominion Voting Machines changed any votes in this election.’”
Georgia: Lincoln County attempts to eliminate six of seven polling places | Susan McCord/Augusta Chronicle
Lincoln County is trying to close all but one polling place for next year’s elections, a move opposed by voting and civil rights groups. Relocating voters from the county’s seven precincts to a single location will make voting “easier and more accessible” and eliminate the need to transport voting equipment and staff the remaining sites, according to a news release. Community members disagreed. “Lincoln County is a very rural county. Some people live as far as 23 miles from the city of Lincolnton,” said Denise Freeman, an activist and former Lincoln County school board member. “This is not about convenience for the citizens. This is about control. This is about the good old boys wanting to do what they’ve always done, which is power and control.” The move was made possible after the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year disbanding the Lincoln County Board of Elections. The chief sponsor of Senate bills 282 and 283 was Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, whose district includes Lincoln County. The newly-appointed board agreed to move forward with the “consolidation” plan and was expected to vote on it last week, but appeared to lack a quorum, several said. Multiple public interest groups including the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Augusta’s Interfaith Coalition are taking a stand against the effort.
Critics of Georgia’s elections were back in court Wednesday in Fulton County trying to ban the use of the voting machines used at every Georgia polling place. Wednesday’s hearing was not about overturning the 2020 election. Instead, the plaintiffs were trying to block the continued use of the $100 million in voting machines Georgia uses at every polling place in the state. A seemingly skeptical judge Kimberly Esmond Adams presided over the virtual court hearing. The plaintiffs claim counting ballots by QR codes is against Georgia law. “Doesn’t your argument totally ignore the evidence?” Adams asked the plaintiffs at one point. “The heart of the lawsuit is that the vote is acclimated out of the QR code, and the voter cannot verify that,” Garland Favorito with Voterga.org said. “You’re suggesting that there would be some kind of intricate system that would reflect one set of votes but record something entirely different?” “Well, there may, be I don’t know. I can’t verify that,” an attorney for Voterga.org said.
As Donald Trump’s campaign sought to overturn his shocking loss of the state of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, it hatched a conspiracy theory. At its center were two masterminds: a clerical worker in a county election office, and her mom, who had taken a temporary job to help count ballots. The alleged plot: Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and mother Ruby Freeman cheated Trump by pulling fake ballots from suitcases hidden under tables at a ballot-counting center. In early December, the campaign began raining down allegations on the two Black women. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, falsely claimed that video footage showed the women engaging in “surreptitious illegal activity” and acting suspiciously, like drug dealers “passing out dope.” In early January, Trump himself singled out Freeman, by name, 18 times in a now-famous call in which he pressed Georgia officials to alter the state’s results. He called the 62-year-old temp worker a “professional vote scammer,” a “hustler” and a “known political operative” who “stuffed the ballot boxes.” Freeman made a series of 911 emergency calls in the days after she was publicly identified in early December by the president’s camp. In a Dec. 4 call, she told the dispatcher she’d gotten a flood of “threats and phone calls and racial slurs,” adding: “It’s scary because they’re saying stuff like, ‘We’re coming to get you. We are coming to get you.’” Two days later, a panicked Freeman called 911 again, after hearing loud banging on her door just before 10 p.m. Strangers had come the night before, too. She begged the dispatcher for assistance. “Lord Jesus, where’s the police?” she asked, according to the recording, obtained by Reuters in a records request. “I don’t know who keeps coming to my door.” “Please help me.”