It is now finally official! The adamant opposition by Georgia Secretary of State (SOS) Brad Raffensperger to election transparency is now a matter of public legal record and undisputed fact. Late last week Raffensperger filed an amicus brief on behalf of Fulton County claiming that petitioners in the case of Favorito v. Cooney have no right to look at Fulton Co. mail-in ballots that are likely counterfeit according to sworn affidavits from auditors at the November 14th -15th hand count audit.
To do this, Raffensperger had to solicit assistance from Attorney General (AG) Chris Carr. AG Carr is a Nathan Deal political appointee and former chief of staff to Johnny Isakson. He is light on legal experience but well-steeped in politics. Carr’s filing of the amicus brief is the latest event in a 15-year trend by Georgia Attorneys General to operate on the wrong side of the law. Since 2006, the Attorneys General have defended in court Georgia’s original unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system that was eventually banned as unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court in 2019.
The new Dominion QR coded voting system that Raffensperger purchased and Carr has chosen to defend is just as unverifiable to the voter. That new system may also be banned as unconstitutional in the ongoing Curling V. Raffensperger federal lawsuit. Ironically though, Carr claims he is “Defending all Georgians”, “Upholding the Constitution” and “Fighting injustice” on his web site.
Carr filed Raffensperger’s brief on Good Friday but there is nothing good about it. There are at least 7 areas of false or deceptive claims:
- The brief falsely claims that Petitioners did not articulate legal justification to unseal the ballots while it totally ignores the most important point of relevant law that any court can unseal ballots for any reason under O.C.G.A. 21-2-500. If the controversies surrounding the Nov 3rd 2020 election do not justify reasons to unseal the ballots then what would?
- The brief falsely portrays the lawsuit as only Open Records Request Act claims when in reality, most are Equal Protection and Due Process claims that justify unsealing of the ballots as part of discovery for evidence to adjudicate the claims;
- The brief restates the off repeated false claims that there are overwhelming security and privacy issues involving the ballots. The ballots contain no voter identifiable information and will remain in the custody of Fulton Co. during the inspection according to the most recently filed inspection plan;
- The brief falsely implies that recently signed Act 9 of the Georgia General Assembly, passed as SB202, prevents ballots from being unsealed. No such language exists as any reader can see by reviewing the bill language or our analysis of it in the sixth installment of our Georgia Election Integrity series. A recent Raffensperger press release claimed he “worked with the Georgia legislature to make sure ballot images could be made available to the public for review” when in reality, his Elections Director Chris Harvey and legal counsel Ryan Germany misled county elections directors in Emails by falsely claiming the AG office had issued an opinion that ballot images could not be made public;
- The brief falsely attempts to use a 2007 Smith V. Dekalb case as precedent for ballot images when that case referenced the old DRE voting system that never produced paper ballot images.
- The brief falsely states that lawsuit contains “baseless” claims when the claims are actually based on four sworn affidavits from seasoned poll managers stating they handled counterfeit ballots during the November 14th and 15th hand count audit
- The brief falsely states that there was no unlawful activity at the State Farm Area when mail-in ballots were processed during the night of November 3rd and 4th 2020. The video shows a curved room that impaired monitor visibility, ballots being hidden under skirted tables, the same ballots being scanned more than once and scanning re-initiated after an announcement was made that scanning would stop for the night according to two sworn affidavits. All of these activities and conditions are violations of Georgia laws contrary to voting system implementation manager Gabriel Sterling who claimed it was “normal ballot processing” (O.C.G.A. 21-2-406, 21-2-483(b) 2-2-492, 21-2-493)
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But the most bizarre claim in the brief is the claim that anyone participating in a court ordered ballot inspection may be guilty of a felony under O.C.G.A. 21-2-574. This code section reads:
“Any person other than an officer charged by law with the care of ballots or a person entrusted by any such officer with the care of the same for a purpose required by law, who has in his or her possession outside the polling place any official ballot shall be guilty of a felony”
This law applies to the course of an election and certainly has no bearing on a court-ordered inspection. Furthermore, inspectors never take possession of the ballots since the inspection would be conducted under the custody of Fulton County as the plan states.
If court ordered ballot inspectors could be felons then…
If court ordered ballot inspectors could be felons then Raffensperger would be guilty of a thousand counts of criminal solicitation for allowing Georgians to handle ballots as auditors in the November 2020 hand count audit that he authorized.
Although the new amicus brief contains wildly false assertions, it not the first time that the Secretary of State or members of his office have published false information. A deeper analysis of historical VoterGA press releases and presentations reveals that Elections Director Chris Harvey, Legal Counsel Ryan Germany, Voting Systems Manager Gabriel Sterling, Assistant Secretary Jordan Fuchs, Inspector General Frances Watson and Chief Information Officer Merritt Beaver have also provided false information to legislators, elections officials, the media, or the general public. That is in part why U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg found the office as “not credible” in the recent Curling v. Raffensperger lawsuit. More to come in future Georgia Election Integrity series articles.
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