ATLANTA — A judge last week granted an audit of Fulton County’s absentee ballots, restartingGeorgia’s 2020 presidential election saga.
A group of Donald Trump supporters who filed a lawsuit in December contesting the election results that flipped Georgia in favor of President Joe Biden will get their wish to review absentee ballots they say were compromised.
On Friday, Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Brian Amero signed an order granting the group permission “to inspect and scan the November 3, 2020, general election absentee ballots that are sealed.”
This will mark the fourth review of election ballots in the state, and is a continuation of efforts to reverse the election results in support of the debunked claim that widespread fraud stole a victory from former President Trump. Taxpayers won’t be responsible for paying for this recount, however, WSB-TV reports.
“If you want it, you pay for it,” Amero said Friday. “That’s typical.”
Daniel Sterling, the voting systems implementation manager in Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office during the election, on Sunday told CNN that the main plaintiff in the lawsuit, Garland Favorito, has filed legal election complaints for years.
“They’ve all had the same level of merit from our point of view,” Sterling said. “The claims are that there are pristine ballots, that there are unfolded ballots that were just inserted, that there are machine-marked ballots. There’s no evidence for any of that. Our law enforcement officers for the Secretary of State’s Office spent literally thousands of hours examining ballots in Fulton County and other counties trying to track these kinds of claims down. So far we’ve seen nothing to give any merit to it.”
Raffensperger told Atlanta NPR affiliate WABE in December that a Fulton County employee “made several compounding errors,” calling into question the veracity of the vote tally.
Sterling on Sunday, however, pointed out that Fulton County officials made no effort to defend absentee ballot results against this litigation.
“They happen to do bad jobs,” Sterling said. “They did nothing to try to stop this. Like, they certainly didn’t do a motion to dismiss. The judge even said, ‘if there’s not a motion to dismiss I don’t have a choice in this matter.’ This is what happens when you don’t want to defend your own system. So, now we have to deal with the fallout from this because they continually do things that aren’t good for voters.”
Vernon Jones, who seeks to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp in the 2022 Republican primaries, last week called for an audit — just days ahead of Judge Amero’s order — and referenced the ongoing Arizona election review authorized by that state’s legislature.
“This is a welcome development in Fulton County,” Jones tweeted on Friday. “Now, let’s get to the other 158 counties!”
Amero pointed out in his order that those conducting the audit “shall only 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.” He also appointed Senior Judge James Bodiford to oversee the process.
Sterling noted the difference between the audit in Arizona and what he anticipates will happen in Georgia.
“We’re going to follow what the law says,” he said. “This is unlike Arizona, where the state senate willy nilly did this and handed it off to a third party and they’re looking for cuckoo-ca-choo, crazy town stuff.”
Two of the petitioners in Favorito’s group have retained Richard Brown, a particle detective with Duluth-based MVA Scientific Consultants, to analyze the digital images of the ballots as part of the audit.