Georgia Secretary of State’s Office: ‘We Don’t Know How Many Absentee Ballots Arrived by Mail Versus Drop Box’

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, file photo, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta. Raffensperger is under attack from President Donald Trump and other fellow Republicans in the aftermath of the heated election season. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
Brynn Anderson/AP Photo

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has no idea how many of the 1.3 million absentee ballots counted in the state in the November 3 general election were delivered by mail and how many were collected and delivered from the 300 absentee ballot drop boxes he and the Georgia State Election Board approved for use in the election.

“We don’t know how many absentee ballots arrived by mail versus drop box. The counties can tell you,” a spokesperson for Raffensperger told Breitbart News on Wednesday.

Breitbart News has contacted election officials in several of Georgia’s 159 counties and asked if they have retained the ballot transfer forms required for use in the transport of absentee ballots deposited in absentee ballot drop boxes by voters and then transported to local election offices by county employed election workers, as specified in Election Code rule 183-1-14-0.8-.14, promulgated by the State Board of Election on July 1, 2020.

The rule requires that every absentee ballot drop box collection team “shall complete and sign a ballot transfer form upon removing the ballots from the drop box, which shall include the date, time, location and number of ballots.”

It further provided that “the ballots from the drop box shall be immediately transported to the county registrar and processed and stored in the same manner as absentee ballots returned by mail are processed and stored. The county registrar or a designee thereof shall sign the ballot transfer form upon receipt of the ballots from the collection team.”

To date, election officials from two counties have responded to the Breitbart News request for ballot transfer forms.

An election official from Chatham County, which used ten absentee ballot drop boxes during the November 3 general election, confirmed that the county used ballot transfer forms for absentee ballots dropped off by voters at ballot drop boxes and delivered to election officials by collection teams. Those forms have been packed up and are now stored with the county’s Administrative Services and will be made available to Breitbart News upon the submission of an Open Records request. It is unclear how long that process will take.

An election official from Bartow County, which used five absentee ballot drop boxes during the November 3 general election, has confirmed that the county has maintained these ballot transfer forms and will make them available to Breitbart News, pending approval from county legal officials.

As Breitbart News reported on Tuesday:

Phill Kline, director of the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, said that a number of election security concerns were not addressed in Georgia’s election code rule regarding the use of absentee ballot drop boxes in Georgia and elsewhere.

“Who were the vendors that collected the ballots from the drop boxes? Where are the logs of their receipt by the vendor at the drop box and subsequent delivery to the election board? How do we know that these ballots were not tampered with, or that a number of them were not discarded along the way from the drop box to the election board?” Kline said to Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.

The secretary of state’s office provided Breitbart News with details of the Georgia Election Official Certification Program’s most current course on Absentee Balloting.

“The Secretary of State and the Kennesaw State University Center for Election Systems have teamed up to present the Georgia Election Official Certification Program (GEOC) ,” the program’s website states:

While our goal is to offer this in person Certification for election officials who have yet to achieve Certification, you are welcome to attend any portion of this training, even if you are currently certified.

The Georgia Election Code (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-101) requires that all county election superintendents, or in the case of a county board of elections or a county board of elections and registration, the designee of such board, satisfactorily complete a certification program approved by the Secretary of State no later than December 31 of the year in which he or she is appointed. The certification program may include instruction on, and may require the superintendent to demonstrate proficiency in, the operation of voting equipment and in state and federal law and procedures related to elections. This training is not to exceed 64 hours.

Pages 25 and 26 of the GEOC Absentee Balloting (Course 8) outline provided to Breitbart News by the secretary of state’s office address the procedures for returning an absentee ballot from from absentee ballot drop box, the key elements of which include the following details:

Secure Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes – SEB Rule 183-1-14-0.6-.14

• A drop box shall only be located on county or municipal government property generally accessible to the public.
• Drop box locations must have adequate lighting and use a video recording device to monitor each drop box location. The video recording device must either continuously record the drop box location or use motion detection that records one frame, or more, per minute until detection of motion triggers continuous recording.

• Collection of ballots from a drop box must be made by a team of at least two people. Any person collecting ballots from a drop box must have sworn an oath in the same form as the oath for poll officers set forth in O.C.G.A. § 21-2-95.
• The collection team shall complete and sign a ballot transfer form upon removing the ballots from the drop box, which shall include the date, time, location and number of ballots.
• After emptying the drop box on 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, the collection team shall close the drop box and indicate on the ballot transfer form that the drop box was emptied and closed. The ballots from the drop box shall be immediately transported to the county registrar and processed and stored in the same manner as absentee ballots returned by mail are processed and stored. The county registrar or a designee thereof shall sign the ballot transfer form upon receipt of the ballots from the collection team.

It is unclear from this instruction if every ballot transfer form must be signed by the county registrar or designee upon receipt, or if only the Election Day ballot transfer form must be signed by the county registrar or designee upon receipt of absentee ballots collected from each drop box by the collection team, nor does it make clear that all ballot transfer forms completed during the election period be stored and maintained for any period of time subsequent to the election.

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