A Georgia judge will allow Fulton County ballots to be unsealed and examined for evidence of fraud

·3 min read
voting booth
Voting booths are set up in Waterloo, Iowa. Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • A Georgia judge will allow absentee ballots from the 2020 election to be unsealed for an audit.

  • Judge Brian Amero on Friday agreed to open 145,000 absentee ballots from Fulton County.

  • Proponents of the audit are claiming, without evidence, that there were irregularities in the election.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A Georgia judge will allow absentee ballots from the 2020 election to be unsealed to have them examined for possible fraud.

In granting the motion on Friday, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero agreed to open 145,000 absentee ballots from Fulton County as part of a review into the 2020 election, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

One of the plaintiffs requesting to do an audit of Fulton County's results is Garland Favorito, the co-founder of a group called Voters Organized for Trusted Election Results in Georgia. Favorito is currently soliciting donations to fund the effort on social media, and on Thursday tweeted, "Dear #VoterGa supporters, Please send money. Thanks! Garland."

The review of ballots will not overturn the results of the 2020 election, but plaintiffs who requested the review say it could help them understand what they claim is unusual and possibly malicious activity at State Farm Arena, an Atlanta ballot-counting site.

Georgia election officials have extensively refuted claims that any malicious activity occurred at the arena, which was monitored via surveillance cameras.

Former President Donald Trump and his allies baselessly claimed that widespread fraud led to his 2020 election loss in the state. They said that footage from State Farm Arena showed workers pulling ballots out of suitcases and counting ballots multiple times. There is no evidence to support their allegations.

"I wanted to scream - well, I did scream at the computer, and I screamed in my car at the radio talking about this because this has been thoroughly debunked," Gabe Sterling, Georgia's voting systems implementation manager, told reporters in a January press conference.

The results of the 2020 election in Georgia were already verified as accurate by a statewide risk-limiting audit that involved a hand recount of the 5 million ballots cast in the presidential election and a separate machine recount requested by Trump's campaign. Both confirmed President Joe Biden's victory in the state.

A separate investigation by the Georgia secretary of state's office last year found no evidence of fraud in the state's ballot counting, and numerous lawsuits challenging Georgia's election results have been dismissed. On top of that, officials conducted an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County and found that 99% of signatures matched the voter.

The push to reexamine the results in Georgia comes amid a highly controversial exercise currently ongoing in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Trump and his supporters similarly lodged false claims of fraud in the 2020 election.

Even after two official audits confirmed Maricopa County's results as accurate and voting equipment as sound, the GOP-controlled state Senate turned over millions of ballots and hundreds of voting machines to a private firm, Cyber Ninjas, to conduct another recount.

The recount effort has been accused of mismanagement, sloppy counting procedures, and violating the chain of custody of the ballots by Arizona's Democrats and Republicans alike. Unlike in Arizona, however, the judge in Georgia ruled that Fulton County official must have full custody of the ballots during the review, according to the Journal-Constitution.

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