In the 5th and 6th installments of the Georgia Election Integrity Series we explained the Good, Bad and Ugly of Georgia's election omnibus bills and how the content was stuffed into SB202 from its predecessors, HB531 and SB241.
If you think SB202, election laws passed by the Georgia General Assembly last year would force Secretary of State and Fulton County to solve their 2020 election problems, think again! New evidence from the 2021 Municipal elections assembled from poll watchers indicates Fulton County and Georgia are still riddled with election problems.
Ironically, the problems were not identified by Republican and Democrat poll watchers but by poll watchers led by Julie Adams from the Constitution Party of Georgia (CPGA). Ms. Adams explained to State Chairman, Ricardo Davis that she wanted to recruit a group of poll watchers for Fulton County's small, non-partisan Municipal 2021 elections. Davis was immediately and enthusiastically on board after the CPGA supplied hundreds of monitors in dozens of counties for the November 14-15, 2020 hand count audit. They decided to focus on assigning poll watchers to the eight voting locations with Ballot Drop Boxes. Adams recruited many poll watchers who volunteered their time to observe the Fulton County municipal election.
Adams and other poll watchers observed numerous and significant problems with Fulton County's conduct and operation of the November 2, 2021, elections as well as serious concerns regarding voting equipment accuracy and Ballot Drop Box irregularities. In regards to the Ballot Drop Boxes they discovered:
* None of the Ballot Drop Boxes were labeled with the required SB 202 laws, clearly defining who may deposit an absentee ballot.
* Poll workers assigned to observe drop boxes were unaware of applicable laws, including the ones that should have been posted on the drop boxes.
* Poll Managers and drop box monitors are not trained to stop or challenge a ballot harvester person from inserting 200 ballots into a polling location Drop Box.
* Drop box ballots were collected from polling locations after poll closing (6pm) and delivered to the elections department management the next day instead of immediately as required by law.
* One location placed the Ballot Drop Box in a separate room from where voting took place, which violates Code Section 21-2-382 that states drop boxes shall be "inside locations at which advanced voting is conducted" and that the drop box shall be "under constant observation by an election official". The room was found unattended at times and located near a door that remained open and accessible to strangers.
In regards to Polling Locations they discovered:
* Fulton Elections failed to provide timely correct locations of precincts, resulting in the exclusion of some poll watchers from participating.
* In many instances more voters were turned away from their polling locations than those allowed to vote there.
* Poll workers in a Sandy Springs precinct asked voters if they were Democrat or Republican, an inappropriate question in a nonpartisan contest.
* One voter reported that he voted, without being asked for the required photo ID.
* One precinct was opened without posting legally required notices.
The Dominion voting equipment also produced inexplicable results. On four separate occasions, count totals showed that the Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) printed FEWER ballots than tabulators scanned. That should be impossible if the machines are counting correctly. Poll Managers or Compliance Officers could not explain the reason for machine count differences.
The results from the team's monitoring in 2021 in Fulton County confirmed SB202 laws were not followed, nor were they adequate to prevent confusion and possibly fraud. Ballot harvesters can still drop off hundreds of ballots in an indoor Ballot Drop Box. Election management problems are inhibiting voters from voting. The voting system counts are still not reliable.
There is no reason the voting equipment and machines should be able to reliably and consistently balance the number of ballots created with the votes counted. Whether the last-minute changes in precinct locations are a result of serious mismanagement or intentional, the problem should be investigated and corrected.
It was discouraging for the poll watchers to hear Fulton County officials proclaim the 2021 municipal election was run well, with no reported significant problems. Officials should have understood the problems observed, since the County Manager, an SOS investigator, and a State Panel Review member visited, and occasionally corrected issues observed and reported.
"There is good news. There are many Georgians' stepping up to help improve our elections in 2022", said Adams. "Each of us can make a difference. To start there is a great need for participation in poll watching. I also encourage every legal registered elector, to get out and vote in 2022." Georgians can volunteer to be poll watchers in any Georgia county by signing up on the CPGA volunteer page.
Training will also be offered on February 18th and 19th at the Statewide Election Integrity Summit sponsored by the Conservative Partnership Institute. Ricardo Davis added: "The Constitution Party is working hard every day with our members and partners, on advancing election integrity this year. If we want to preserve the republic, then restoring and preserving fair and transparent elections is crucial. Every Georgian and every American has the right to know that every vote was legally cast, correctly counted, and that processes exist to audit at the precinct level".
But SB202 needs more changes to close the loopholes poll watchers found and others that exist. Fulton County is only an example. The Georgia General Assembly must act now to ensure real oversight of both the state and the counties for the 2022 elections. The Dominion voting system, state rules and county procedures are still vulnerable to fraud, errors and irregularities.
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