A Georgia judge’s ruling is about to unseal tens of thousands of suspected fraudulent absentee ballots in Fulton County so that a government watchdog can investigate allegations of voting fraud from the 2020 presidential election. An overwhelming majority of Atlanta lies within Fulton County.
A lawsuit filed in the Fulton County Superior Court alleges that fraudulent ballots were cast and other irregularities occurred as workers counted ballots at State Farm Arena on Election Night, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday. Ultimately, those claims were investigated and rebuked by the secretary of state’s office. Although, the judge overseeing the case—Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero—said he’s willing to order the ballots to be unsealed and examined by experts who Garland Favorito, a voting-integrity advocate, hired.
The Peach State was one of the most hotly contested swing states in the 2020 presidential election, as well as the subsequent U.S. Senate runoff elections in January. The state narrowly went for Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential race and for the Democratic challengers by slightly bigger margins in the two Senate runoffs, marking the first time in decades that historically red Georgia went blue.
Amero at a Monday hearing requested a detailed scheme for ensuring the secrecy and security of the ballots. In accordance with state law, the ballots are under seal in the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk’s Office.
“We want to do this in such a way that dispels rumors and disinformation and sheds light,” Amero said at the hearing. “The devil’s in the details.”
Favorito’s case is part of a wave of lawsuits that have claimed fraud or misconduct in the November 3 presidential election. While some aimed to overturn Biden’s victory in the state, others aimed to alter election rules for the Senate runoffs. However, none of these succeeded.
Nonetheless, the allegations of fraud have prompted a wave of controversial legislation in the Georgia legislature that could restrict voting on the grounds of election security. These bills have come under intense scrutiny from civil liberties groups, arguing that these would disenfranchise voters of color.
Last week, the watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, accusing his office of violating the Georgia Open Records Act. In November, Judicial Watch asked for documents pertaining to a 2020 settlement agreement that required additional steps before absentee ballots could be thrown out for mismatched voter signatures. They also asked for documents pertaining to the processing of absentee ballots in November.
The group’s case, filed in the Fulton County Superior Court, says Raffensperger’s office still hasn’t provided the requested documents.