Well, the plot thickens in Georgia with the revelation that video surveillance footage of ballot drop boxes in some key Democratic stronghold counties is no longer available.
Last week, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed that his office is investigating allegations that large-scale illegal ballot harvesting took place during the 2020 general election.
Raffensperger’s office received a detailed complaint in November from the conservative voter integrity group True the Vote stating that it had “assembled evidence that scores of activists worked with nonprofit groups to collect and deliver thousands of absentee ballots, often during wee-hour operations, to temporary voting drop boxes distributed around the state during the pandemic,” Just The News reported.
That would be known as ballot harvesting, which happens when someone other than the voter delivers a ballot to be counted. This practice is illegal under Georgia law, which requires absentee ballots to be either mailed in or personally delivered unless the voter is disabled, in which case a family or household member can deliver the ballot.
Raffensperger told investigative journalist John Solomon, editor in chief of Just The News, that an active investigation into potential ballot harvesting is taking place in the Peach State.
“We do have some information and we’re going to investigate that,” Raffensperger said during an episode of Solomon’s podcast released last week.
In a segment of the interview that starts about the 22:30 mark, he told Solomon the ballot boxes were under “24/7” video surveillance, as required by law.
Just The News reported on Jan. 7 that some of Georgia’s largest counties — including Fulton and Cobb counties — no longer possess the video camera footage.
“Election officials in several counties say the reason they discarded the footage is that the emergency rules issued by the State Elections Board said they only needed to keep the footage for 30 days after the election,” according to the outlet.
Do you think this video footage should have been retained?
“I was informed that the videos were only required to be kept for 30 days post-election,” spokeswoman Regina Waller said, according to Just The News. “Please see bullet point number 5 of the attached SEB Rule regarding Elections in Georgia.”
Cobb County said something similar.
“We took direction from the Secretary of State and State Election Board, assuming they were not implementing a Rule contrary to law,” the Cobb County elections office said, according to Just The News, acknowledging it deleted its video footage from 2020. “Drop boxes were established under an emergency order from the Governor.”
The rules, issued in July 2020, required video recordings of the drop boxes must be retained for 30 days. They do not, however, say video must be erased, discarded or destroyed after 30 days.
Dekalb County, another Democratic stronghold in the Atlanta metropolitan area, told Just The News it believes it still has the footage, which could be obtained through an open records request.
True the Vote and other groups did obtain video footage a year ago at the start of their investigations into ballot harvesting.
“Officials estimate that footage covers about 15% of all of the drop boxes in the major urban areas around Atlanta,” according to Just The News.
“State officials say, however, there is plenty of video footage and other evidence to work with and the most important mission at the start of the probe is to ascertain the identities of people who participated in the alleged harvesting.”
Federal law requires officials to keep records for 22 months after an election, which would certainly seem to include the video footage of drop boxes.
A main reason election records are retained is in the event the results are challenged.
True the Vote said its investigation involved using “commercially available geospatial mobile device data showing the locations of suspected ballot harvesters’ cell phones in the vicinity of the ballot drop boxes at the times people appeared on the surveillance footage stuffing multiple ballots into a drop box,” Just The News reported.
The group alleged in its complaint that surveillance video evidence suggests that “242 people engaged in a total of 5,662 ballot drops, an average of 23 runs per alleged harvester.”
The footage shows numerous instances of large numbers of ballots being stuffed into ballot boxes, True the Vote stated, according to Just The News. Additionally, more than 40 percent of the alleged drop-offs occurred between midnight and 5 a.m., the group alleged, according to Just The News.
According to Just The News, one man admitted to True the Vote that he and others engaged in ballot harvesting.
“John Doe” stated that he was paid $10 for each ballot he collected and delivered during the November 2020 election and the Jan. 5, 2021, Senate runoffs, True the Vote alleged, according to Just The News.
President Joe Biden won Georgia over former President Donald Trump by 12,670 votes.
It is definitely worth finding out if allegations of illegal conduct are true.
Georgians deserve to have confidence in their election results.
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