GA Judge Rules To Unseal Fulton Co. Absentee Ballots For Additional Analysis

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  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

On Friday, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero ruled to unseal more than 145,000 absentee ballots in Fulton County from the 2020 presidential election. The ruling granted the petitioners of an ongoing lawsuit access to the ballots with certain restrictions.

As previously reported by UncoverDC, Garland Favorito, a voter-integrity advocate with VoterGA, served as a Fulton County tabulation observer in the Nov. 3 election. After repeatedly being ignored following the discovery of an abnormal vote increase for Joe Biden's vote tabulation and an apparent abnormal reduction in Donald J. Trump's vote tabulation, Favorito filed the petition.

Upon observing the discrepancies, Favorito—who has partnered with Jovan Pulitzer for forensic inspection—immediately notified the Fulton County Director of the Elections, the Fulton County Elections Board, and the Fulton County attorney. He also made an Open Records Request for the interim upload requests. He ultimately filed the suit in Fulton County to determine the extent of any possible wrongdoing.

In March, Judge Amero allowed the petitioners access to scanned images of the absentee ballots. Still, their attorneys argued in court that the resolution (200 dots per inch, or DPI) was insufficient to properly perform an analysis. In Friday's hearing, the petitioners asked for images at 600 DPI or higher as well as access to the ballots themselves.

Forensics expert David Sawyer testified for the petitioners at Friday's hearing. He stated he identified a discrepancy in the number of batches received from the Dominion Voting Systems software and the number Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office registered as having been examined in a risk-limiting audit.

Stating he was against a third party handling the ballots, Judge Amero agreed the plaintiffs should have access to 600 DPI images, indicating they will be able to scan and inspect the unsealed ballots according to the practices and protocols issued by the court, which he will outline in a future order. Judge Amero was clear that the ballots must remain in possession of county officials. Amero rejected the opinion that petitioners could not get better scans of the ballots or visually inspect them, stating:

"That seems to be something that they have the authority and the right to do. I have never seen in this case a motion to dismiss from anyone for any reason, and in the absence of considering things in that way, then this does take the form of a civil case where there is some discovery."

The attorney general counsel representing the Secretary of State Raffensperger's office revealed the envelopes are signed, which is considered identifying information. The signature and time, and date stamp are on the back of the envelope. Plaintiffs have asked for the time and date information. Speaking to the Secretary of State's attorney, Amero said:

“I have no inclination at all to release these ballots to anyone other than the clerk and the council. Whether they have the right to conduct these independent viewings, maybe not a physical inspection, but an inspection nonetheless, a visual inspection, combined with an opportunity to have ballot images at a resolution that allows them to peruse their claims that seems to be something that they have the authority and the right to do.”

Judge Amero instructed all parties involved to meet next Friday, May 28, at the Fulton County ballot storage location, explicitly stating he only wanted council in attendance with a possible exception for forensic experts. Once there, the parties will establish protocols and procedures for ballot inspection. Favorito and the eight other plaintiffs will pay for the expenses incurred. Elaborating on the expertise of Jovan Pulitzer, Favorito commented:

“Jovan is the only expert we have found who clearly understands all details of what is needed in a forensic ballot inspection. His unique, patented technology is unmatched in the country. He has assembled a remarkable team of forensic experts who can be on-site to assist VoterGA inspection team members. His technology team and our Georgia election expertise represent the perfect combination of teammates who can find the truth about Georgia ballot integrity no matter what that truth may be.”

On Apr. 2, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sent a request to the courts in the case, requesting that ballot images taken from the voting machines be the only source of evidence used in an upcoming audit in the county. Speaking of Friday's proceedings, Raffensperger said in a statement to Just the News:

"From day one, I have encouraged Georgians with concerns about the election in their counties to pursue those claims through legal avenues. Fulton County has a long standing history of election mismanagement that has understandably weakened voters' faith in its system. Allowing this audit provides another layer of transparency and citizen engagement."

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