by WorldTribune Staff, August 11, 2021
During the adjudication process in Atlanta for 2020 election ballots, election workers counted rejected ballots where marks for candidates like President Donald Trump were sometimes removed so ballots could count for Joe Biden, a report said.
About three percent of ballots in Fulton County, Georgia’s largest county, required some form of human intervention, according to logs obtained by Just the News under an open records act request.
Just the News identified hundreds of Fulton County ballots that met the state election regulation’s definition of a “spoiled” ballot, but nonetheless were counted as lawful votes after election judges intervened. Some counted ballots even had the word “spoiled” written across them and still were counted.
The records “reveal an imperfect system vulnerable to chaos, subjectivity, or political dirty tricks, especially in a county like Fulton where state officials documented widespread irregularities and misconduct and now want to take over election counting,” Just the News reported.
In the adjudication process, human judgment is substituted for machine scanning in cases where voters incorrectly filled out a paper ballot.
In 2020, adjudication played a much larger role in states like Georgia, which allowed hundreds of thousands of additional citizens to vote absentee for the first time amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Georgia voting regulation which is quoted on each absentee ballot emphatically declares that a paper ballot should be deemed “spoiled” and uncountable if a voter makes any mistakes or unauthorized marks.
“If you make a mistake or change your mind or change your mind on a selection do not attempt to mark through the selection or attempt to erase. Write ‘Spoiled’ across the ballot and across the return envelope” and get a new ballot, language on each ballot reads.
Just the News reported that it reviewed hundreds of ballots that met the “spoiled” definition — ballots that voters had in some way altered, defaced, or corrected — that were still allowed to count after adjudication. The reason? Another Georgia regulation gives election officials broad discretion to try to determine the intent of a confused voter, and actually encourages them to find a way to make flawed ballots count.
Just the News cited two instances where ballots were clearly marked spoiled. On one ballot, both Trump and Biden were marked. Adjudicators removed the vote for Trump and counted the ballot for Biden. In the second instance, a ballot marked “spoiled” had only a vote marked for Trump. Adjudicators rejected the ballot.
Just the News noted that its review “shows adjudication judges have the power to ‘remove marks’ and or ‘add marks’ to reflect a voter’s assumed intention and did so hundreds of times in Fulton County alone. They also can reject them. And at least in Georgia last November, they made such decisions one to four days after Election Day had ended, when preliminary vote counts showed who was leading or losing in close races. The entire scenario makes some extremely squeamish.”