Should the panel determine that Fulton County did not handle the administration of the 2020 election properly, the Secretary of State’s office is empowered to take over election administration duties in that county. Such a decision could come before the end of 2021 and in time for the 2022 midterm elections.
Georgia’s “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” signed into law in March of this year by Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA), provides the legal authority to the Secretary of State’s office to take over the election administration responsibilities for any county that is found to have consistently implemented poor election procedures.
Just The News reported:
The vote authorizes a bipartisan, three-person panel to investigate Fulton County, home to Atlanta and a deeply blue base of voters.
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Republicans, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had urged the board to take the action. If the investigative panels confirms irregularities, the elections board could replace the county’s board of registration and elections with it own administrator.
The action came after Just the News used open records requests to document widespread irregularities in Fulton County, including a 29-page memo documenting double scanning of ballots, insecure transportation of ballots and possible violations of voter privacy.
“I have been saying for a long time that the state needs the authority to step in when counties have consistently failed their voters,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-GA) said in a statement released by the State Election Board after the vote on Wednesday.
“I’m pleased that the state finally has that authority and that the State Election Board has taken the first step today. I’m confident that the performance review team will do a good job, and I hope Fulton will cooperate with this process,” Raffensperger added.
“Wednesday’s appointment was triggered by letters from Fulton Republican legislators who requested the review,” the statement from the State Election Board noted:
The law requires the panel make a written report to the State Election Board. After that report is submitted, the Board will determine if further action is required.
The performance review panel is made up of Stephen Day, a Gwinnett County Elections Board member; Rickey Kittle, Catoosa County Elections Board chairman; and Ryan Germany, general counsel to the Secretary of State’s office.
Raffensperger, who on November 20 certified Joe Biden as the winner of Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes by a margin of 12,000 votes over Donald Trump out of five million votes cast in the state, has come under intense criticism for his handling of the November 2020 election. In June, “The Georgia Republican Party censured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday for ‘dereliction of his constitutional duty’,” as Breitbart News reported.
The censure resolution stated that Raffensperger had failed to do his duty, including:
Entering into the Compromise Settlement Agreement and Release, which changed Georgia’s absentee voting procedures outside the Constitutionally prescribed format set forth in Georgia law.
Undermining the security of our elections by allowing mass mailings of absentee applications by his office and third parties which created opportunities for fraud and overwhelmed election offices; rendering accurate signature matching nearly impossible; allowing ballot drop boxes without proper chain of custody; and ignoring sworn affidavits and evidence of voter fraud; and
In December, Breitbart News reported that “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.”
In June, Breitbart News reported:
Two Mark Zuckerberg-funded nonprofits combined to spend $51 million in the state of Georgia on the November 3, 2020 general election and the January 5, 2021 U.S. Senate runoff elections in that state, according to two separate reports: one published by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), and the second published by one of the Zuckerberg-funded nonprofits. . .
The Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) spent $31 million in 40 counties in the November 3, 2020 general election, and an additional $14.5 million in 15 counties for the January 5, 2021 runoff election, according to a May 2021 report from the FGA.
Another Zuckerberg-funded group, the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), provided more than $5.5 million in funding for the November 3, 2020 general election directly to the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to a March 2021 CEIR report:
Georgia used CEIR grant funds in both the November general election and January runoff election to encourage voters to apply for a ballot online. This approach sped up the process for both voters and election officials while also making it easier to track application status. Georgia also used the funds to counteract disinformation, issuing public service announcements warning voters of disinformation and encouraging them to report fraud to the Secretary of State hotline. (emphasis added)
The two Zuckerberg-funded nonprofits spent four times more per Georgia resident than they did per resident of the other 49 states combined -$4.76 per resident of Georgia ($51 million/10.7 million residents), compared to $1.15 per resident of all 49 other states combined ($368 million/323.4 million residents).
The conduct of Fulton County officials in the November 2020 election has also been controversial, as Breitbart News reported in December:
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted to accept a $6.3 million grant from the Mark-Zuckerberg funded Center for Technology and Civic Life “Safe Elections” project at a September 2, 2020 board meeting. It proceeded without asking a single question about the name of the group providing the funding, the origin of the funding, or the details of what the funding would be used for. . .
Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron told the Fulton County Board of Commissioners how he was able to secure the grant for the county, but failed to mention the name of the funding group-CTCL-or the fact they had only one day earlier, on September 1, received a $250 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, to fund the Fulton County grant.
“I went this summer and sought some grant funding, which the BOC approved today for over $6.3 million, and we’ve also received $5 million in COVID funding. And then with the $3.5 million soundings request today, that totals $14.5 million more in additional investments for we’re going to be — we were able to secure a lot of new polling places for, if we clean them afterwards, we got tech-support at all voting locations, postage and absentee ballots that we have to mail out,” Barron told the Fulton County Board of Commissioners at their September 2, 2020 board meeting.
Here are the summary budget details of the proposal Baron sent to the CTCL on August 18, which they accepted and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved on September 2:
Absentee Ballot Assembly and Processing Equipment $1,448,026
Early Voting Sites and Ballot Drop-off Options $937,710
In-person Voting at Polling Places on Election Day $3,923,700
In February, the Fulton County Board of Elections voted to fire Barron, but later that month the Fulton County Commission gave him a temporary reprieve.
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