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More ballot reviews pending in Georgia, sowing doubts in elections

Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA — Long after the presidential election was settled, a perpetual quest to find evidence of fraud continues in Georgia through demands for ballot inspections and audits.

Two Republican state senators who publicly backed former President Donald Trump’s unproven claims of election fraud toured an ongoing Arizona ballot review this week, raising the possibility that they could seek a similar inquiry in Georgia.

A ballot analysis is pending in Fulton County after a judge recently allowed a review of high-resolution copies of absentee ballots. The county has asked the judge to dismiss the case before the ballot inspection moves forward.

Election audits are the latest attempt by Trump’s supporters to question the outcome of the election. While unbiased audits are meant to increase public confidence or find errors, election experts say these belated ballot inspections often lack standards to ensure objective findings.

Georgia’s election has already gone through two audits. First, election workers manually recounted all 5 million ballots to confirm Joe Biden’s 12,000-vote victory over Trump in the presidential race. Then, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and state election investigators audited voter signatures on 15,000 absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County and didn’t find a single case of fraud.

But skeptics of the election say those audits didn’t go far enough. They want a deeper review to try to find whether there were counterfeit ballots, as alleged by Republican Party members who said they saw “pristine” ballots without folds and perfectly filled-in ovals during Georgia’s hand recount.

 

There’s no evidence of significant fraud in Georgia’s election, according to state and county election officials. The secretary of state’s office is investigating over 100 complaints of irregularities in last year’s general election, and even if all of them exposed invalid votes, Biden still would have won.

The Georgia senators who visited Arizona’s ballot review, run by a company called Cyber Ninjas rather than election officials, haven’t revealed their next steps. The company’s chief executive officer had tweeted support for Trump’s election conspiracy theories. It has no previous experience with election audits.

Republican state Sens. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta and Burt Jones of Jackson, both of whom are considering campaigns for higher office, didn’t return messages seeking comment. Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer and GOP gubernatorial candidate Vernon Jones also toured the Arizona arena where 2.1 million ballots are being scrutinized. Like Jones and Beach, Shafer and Jones have frequently repeated fraud allegations.

Partisan election reviews without strict rules and a strong chain of ballot custody are nothing more than attempts to find a different result, said David Levine of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization that advocates for election integrity. Arizona’s ballot inspection is missing those safeguards, he said.

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