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GA SoS Raffensperger’s War On Coffee County

GA GOP Loses Its Religion Over Raffensperger Secretary Of State Office
GA SoS Brad Raffensperger
Image by Nydia Tisdale

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On April 7th, Georgia Secretary of State (SOS) Brad Raffenserger announced his office would investigate three counties for failing to complete mail-in ballot drop box transfer forms in recent Georgia elections. The forms are required to be filled out to document transfers of mail-in ballots picked up from locations where drop boxes may have been installed throughout a county. 

One of those counties that Raffensperger announced he would investigate is Coffee County. The problem with the announcement is that if there is anyone in the SOS office who wanted the truth they only needed to make one phone call to know there is nothing to investigate. Coffee County did not place any drop boxes in remote locations. The only drop box was located at the county elections office. County Elections offices have never been required to fill out forms if they receive mail-in ballots at the office. So, what was the real motive behind this obvious publicity stunt and latest example of disinformation emanating from the SOS office?

Secretary Raffensperger has been at war with Coffee County ever since the county exposed Dominion Democracy Suite 5.5 voting system security shortcomings and recount failures in the November 2020 election.  In a November 11th memo to the SOS, the Coffee County Elections Board noted that any group of ballots can be rescanned multiple times. They further found that a lack of proper adjudication audit trail allows election workers to change votes in all ballots of a batch without detection.

Coffee County experienced Dominion tabulation failures when Elections Director Misty Hampton made three attempts to recount Georgia’s Presidential election and each time the system produced clearly erroneous results. The Elections Board created a December 10th spreadsheet that documented the recount problems. It showed the Dominion system produced 39 new votes for President during a November 30th recount without any change in ballots cast.  After the board scanned 185 missing recount ballots into the results, the Dominion tabulator found no change in votes for any candidate. A third recount on December 2nd produced the same original results ignoring all 185 added ballots.

Dominion technicians were unable to resolve the problem and the Coffee County Elections Board certified original hand count audit results in conflict with a November 16th memo from Raffensperger’s State Elections Director Chris Harvey. Harvey insisted that Coffee, like all other counties, should certify Dominion recount results regardless of vote counting inaccuracies that may have been found. 

Tensions in the SOS office escalated further after the Coffee County Elections Board presented their Dominion system concerns to the Georgia General Assembly.  One board member testified to the GA House Government Affairs Committee on December 10th 2020. At the December 30rd Senate Judiciary sub-committee Committee hearing, the board provided two videos that were released from an Open Records Request. They showed Director Hampton demonstrating security weaknesses in the Dominion adjudication system that allows an election official to change votes cast on a ballot. 

In their December 4th letter to the House Committee, the Election Board stated the Dominion recount “lacks credibility” because of its “inability to repeatedly duplicate creditable election results”. They added: “No local election board has the ability to reconcile the anomalies…” The scathing letter continued: “Any system…that is not repeatable or dependable should not be used”

For the recount, the board noted: “To demand certification of patently inaccurate results neither serves the objective of the electoral system nor satisfies the legal obligation to certify the electronic recount”.

Instead of attempting to resolve these serious Dominion security flaws and recount failures, the SOS office opened an investigation into Coffee County. On December 11th, three SOS Inspector General investigators with guns and handcuffs showed up at the Elections office. Dominion’s top Georgia managers, Tom Feehan and Scott Tucker, met them in Coffee County but neither of them could resolve the Dominion recount problems. They were reportedly more upset about the adjudication videos that had just been released than the recount that had failed.

The investigation proved fruitless for the SOS office and the Coffee County Election Board continued to back Hampton. In early 2021, Raffensperger’s Inspector General Frances Watson attempted to have Hampton referred to the Attorney General’s office on an unrelated matter but the State Election Board declined to do so. Eventually, the County Manager succumbed to pressure from the SOS office and Dominion. He forced Hampton and her assistant to resign. The excuse was time reporting, but Hampton, like many other Georgia county Election Directors, is a salaried employee who worked well over a hundred of hours of overtime for no additional pay from November through January to handle the recounts and audits that occurred.

The attack on Hampton and Coffee County is not unique. Raffensperger and his office have consistently attacked county Elections Directors who experienced problems with the new voting system Raffensperger purchased.  On November 3rd, 2020 KnowInk poll books in Spalding County malfunctioned and caused a two-hour delay in voting. Elections Director Marcia Ridley told the media that the delay was caused by a system update on the evening before the elections. That upset Raffensperger, who personally called for her resignation. His  office claimed that Ridley spread false information because no update was found in the audit trails. The Spalding County Elections Board backed Ridley though and kept her on board.  

In the November 3rd 2020 Floyd Co. election, 2,700 votes got stuck in the adjudication process and could not be verified or published. Dominion technicians were unable to correct the problem and were forced instead to rescan all ballots from an early voting location to process the votes. Rather than determine what caused the malfunction, the SOS office called for the resignation of Elections Director Robert Brady. Brady had contracted COVID19 during the elections certification period and was unable to be present to help resolve the problem. Nevertheless, the Floyd County Election Board eventually capitulated to the pressure to terminate Brady. However, they never explained precisely what he or any other Elections Director could have done differently to prevent the Dominion malfunction.

It is one thing for the SOS to cover up security and tabulation flaws in the unverifiable, hundred-million-dollar Dominion voting system he purchased over objections from Georgia voters, election integrity advocates and security experts. It is still another, to attack county elections directors who expose the problems or are victimized by them through no fault of their own. The SOS office has sunk to a new low level of corruption and, as we mentioned in the 7th installment of our Election Integrity Series, it goes beyond just Secretary Raffensperger.

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