Report: Chain of custody documentation missing on 460,000 Georgia absentee ballots

by WorldTribune Staff, December 30, 2020

Chain of custody documentation has not been provided on some 460,000 absentee ballots that were deposited in drop boxes and were counted in Georgia’s Nov. 3 general election, a report said.

A large majority of the state’s counties have failed to produce the documentation as required by law, according to The Georgia Star News, which has filed open records requests for the documentation.

Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in Georgia by less than 12,000 votes.

In order to account for the secure whereabouts for absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes across the state, the Georgia Election Code Emergency Rule approved by State Election Board on July 1 required that every county was responsible for documenting the transfer of every batch of absentee ballots picked up at drop boxes and delivered to the county election offices with ballot transfer forms.

The forms were required to be signed and dated, with time of pick up by the collection team upon pick up, and then signed, and dated with time of delivery by the registrar or designee upon receipt and accepted.

The Star News sent open records requests for ballot transfer forms to all of Georgia’s 159 counties.

As of last week, just 26 out of the 159 counties in Georgia responded to the requests and produced the chain of custody records.

The documents produced by the 26 counties account for 140,083 of the roughly 600,000 absentee ballots placed in drop boxes during the Nov. 3 election.

That means that three out of four of all absentee ballots left in drop boxes in counties across Georgia have no documentation verifying their chain of custody.

Three counties – Fulton, Gwinnett, and DeKalb – responded to The Star News by saying they don’t know if they have documents responsive to the open records request but will provide an answer to that question at some time in the near future. In the case of Fulton County, that time in the near future could be as late as Jan. 19, 2021.

Worth County said, “nothing in this chapter shall require agencies to produce records in response to a request if such records did not exist at the time of the request.”

Coffee County said they will process the request once its election supervisor recovers from illness.

A total of 102 counties have not responded to the request whatsoever.

A poll of likely voters in Georgia conducted by John McLaughlin and Associates found that 26 percent of respondents said they voted absentee. When the pollster asked the absentee voters if they mailed or deposited their ballot in a drop box, 53 percent said they mailed their ballot, representing about 700,000 votes; and 46 percent – representing 600,000 votes – said they used drop boxes.

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