Georgia Secretary of State Referred Three Counties for Investigation Over Missing Records

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A press release issued by Secretary of State Bradley Raffensperger on Thursday said he had referred three counties, Coffee, Grady, and Taylor, for investigation because officials had failed to complete the absentee ballot transfer forms that were required by Georgia Rules and Regulations.

These three counties accounted for 0.37% of all the absentee ballots cast in the state in the November election. (0.37% of 4,935,487 total votes equal 18,261, so it’s not nothing.)

The statement says that all of the other 120 counties that used drop boxes completed and retained ballot transfer documents.

Due to the unprecedented number of absentee ballots cast in the state due to the pandemic, an emergency rule was added by the State Election Board to allow for drop boxes.

This rule required counties with drop boxes “to fill out ballot transfer forms that included the date, time, location, and number of ballots in the drop boxes whenever election officials collected ballots from the drop box.”

“Since day one, I have made securing Georgia’s election a top priority and I have not stopped working since then,” Secretary Raffensperger said in his statement. “Though the overwhelming majority of counties did what they were supposed to, this demonstrates that new steps need to be taken to fully secure our elections. Securing elections is work that is never truly finished.”

State officials, including Raffensperger, have come under fire since the recent passage of their voter reform package. This legislation is called the Election Integrity Act of 2021 and its purpose is to restore confidence and accountability in state elections.

At the center of the controversy is the requirement of a state identification number for applicants requesting absentee ballots. In order to verify their ballots, voters will be required to provide either their state identification number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

The state offers a free ID Card to any resident who cannot afford one.

Democrats believe that requiring a voter to provide identification to procure an absentee ballots is onerous and amounts to voter suppression. Republicans argue that it’s necessary to make sure that only those who are eligible to vote receive a ballot and that they are who they say they are.

The attacks on this legislation began with President Joe Biden. Asked at his press conference last month about Georgia’s new voting reform measures, he replied, “What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick … deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work.”

The next day, Biden attacked Georgia’s new legislation again in a statement which said, “Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”

A fact check of these obviously false remarks performed by The Washington Post earned the President “Four Pinocchios.”

That didn’t stop Democratic opposition to the new law. In fact, the CEOs of Coca-Cola, Delta, United and American Airlines and others joined the fray. And, as was widely reported last week, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia, which will deprive the city of an estimated $100 million of revenue.

The battle over voter ID laws won’t be ending anytime soon. I imagine that red states will keep tightening requirements while blue states loosen them.

New Emails Raise Big Questions About Overnight Ballot Counting in GA

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Although anti-Trumpers inside the Georgia Secretary of State’s office have repeatedly tried to end speculation surrounding events that occurred at the Fulton County State Farm Arena ballot-counting center on Election Night, they’ve never succeeded.

Over the weekend, Just the News’ Daniel Payne obtained several internal emails from Fulton County election workers via an open records request which appear to raise even more questions about what actually took place that night.

Two poll workers, both of whom have signed sworn affidavits, claim that at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, a county official “told workers to stop working for the night” and to return the following morning at 8:30 a.m. to resume counting ballots, according to Payne.

He informs readers that “nearly half a dozen local and national media outlets, meanwhile, reported being told that absentee ballot-counting had ceased at around 10:30 p.m. and would resume the next day. Several reports cited county spokeswoman Regina Waller for that information.”

JTN contacted Waller in December, who confirmed that counting had continued after most workers had left. Waller told JTN that she had “stated to all media … that although several workers were released to go home, a small team remained behind to assist with scanning ballots.”

Payne said it’s “unclear why no media outlets” have reported this.

One of the emails Payne received last weekend was sent by Waller to Jessica Corbitt, the Director of Fulton County External Affairs, State Farm Arena spokesman Garin Narain, and two other officials at 10:22 p.m. on Nov. 3. It can be viewed here.

Contrary to Waller’s admission to JTN in December that a small team had continued working after 10:30 p.m., Payne’s take on this email is that Waller “appears to indicate that the ballot-counting team had dispersed by around 10:30 p.m.”

Waller wrote: “The workers in the Absentee Ballot Processing area will get started again at 8 am tomorrow.” Waller addresses logistics for the press in the remainder of the email.

Upon viewing this email, Payne emailed Waller to ask for clarification. Waller wrote that the email “was in response to a question received asking when all workers would return.” He asked her if she would provide the email she was responding to, but she did not reply.

The second email obtained by Payne was written at 11:15 p.m. by Fulton County Interagency Affairs Manager Fran Phillips-Calhoun to Corbitt, Waller and two others. This email also throws the “timetable of ballot-counting on Election Night” into question.

Phillips-Calhoun writes, “FYI –  SOS [the Secretary of State’s office] just sort of threw the team under the bus stating that ‘we had a great day, but we decided to throw in the towel for the night even though the public is waiting…’ on results.”

Payne notes that “Phillips-Calhoun did not specify what message from the Secretary of State’s office she was referring to. The county worker did not respond to requests for comment.”

The sworn affidavits of the two poll watchers mentioned above confirm “some controversial aspects of the news reports from that night.”

The first statement is from Michelle Branton, a Georgia Republican Party Field Organizer. She claims that at approximately 10:30 p.m., “a woman [in the ballot-processing room] yelled to everyone to stop working and to return the next day at 8:30 a.m. … “Nearly all of the staff workers” left the State Arena. The statement says that Regina Waller and a “small number of workers” remained.

The other sworn statement belonged to Mitchell Harrison, who was from the Georgia Republican Party as well. He had worked with Branton that night and he also reported hearing the official, believed to be Waller, instruct workers to stop working “sometime after 10 o’clock,” and said that “all but 4 election employees” left the facility.

According to Payne, “both Branton and Harrison said they had been directed by a GOP supervisor to obtain the number of ballots scanned and the number remaining to be scanned. Both claimed to have asked Regina Waller for that information three separate times; Waller eventually told them to find the information on the state’s website.”

Payne reports, “the two left State Farm Arena ‘shortly after 10:30 p.m.’ and said that some time after returning to the Fulton County Board of Elections Warehouse, they became aware that ballot counting was still continuing at the arena.” He adds that “Harrison said he and another worker eventually returned to to the Arena ‘just before 1:00 a.m.,’ upon which ‘we were told counting had been going on, but had just ended in the last few minutes.'”

The conflicting statements of Regina Waller are far from the only “irregularities” that have come to light since Election Day.

We all remember the rather remarkable videos of election workers pulling several cases of ballots out from under a table with a tablecloth after Waller had dismissed workers on Election Night.

If ever there was a smoking gun, that video was one. The media came to the rescue and collectively reported that the video had been debunked.

It had not been debunked. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway found what the media, including The Washington Post, was calling a “Big Tech-backed “fact” “checking” outfit.”

Hemingway wrote, “…a  group called Lead Stories published a ‘hoax alert’ falsely claiming to have debunked the security video. The Washington Post, Newsweek, and other outlets followed along, criticizing non-leftist journalists for giving the video traction. In fact, none of the claims made by the Republicans were debunked.”

“Lead Stories’ “fact” “check” says government officials told them everything was fine with the counting, that the ballots were in “containers — not suitcases,” and that “party observers were never told to leave because counting was over for the night,” she added.

No problem. Fox News joined other establishment media outlets that afternoon to report that the incident had been “immediately dismissed, however, after Fran Watson, the chief investigator from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office “filed a sworn statement in federal court claiming that video presented last week at a state Senate meeting does not show voter fraud, as was alleged by President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.”

No rational explanation was ever given for that episode. The news cycle simply moved on and it was forgotten.

Fran Watson. Where have we heard that name before?

Watson spoke to then-President Donald Trump on December 23 and briefed the deputy secretary of state, Jordan Fuchs, afterward.

Fuchs later misrepresented the phone call in a conversation with a Washington Post reporter who printed a story about the lies. It went viral.

When the Wall Street Journal published an audio recording of the call which revealed the actual words that had been said, The Post was forced to issue a rare and embarrassing correction.

For nearly three months, knowing that the original Washington Post story misquoted the President, Fran Watson and Jordan Fuchs remained silent. House Democrats even used the words Trump had not uttered in that phone call as evidence in his second impeachment trial.

Early on Election Night, it was reported that a pipe had burst at the State Farm Arena and that it would be necessary to stop counting the votes temporarily. It turned out that a urinal had overflowed early in the morning on Election Day.

The Trump legal team challenged thousands of votes they believed were fraudulent. Below is a list published by The Federalist.

  • 2,560 felons
  • 66,247 underage registrants
  • 2,423 people who were not on the state’s voter rolls
  • 4,926 voters who had registered in another state after they registered in Georgia, making them ineligible
  • 395 people who cast votes in another state for the same election
  • 15,700 voters who had filed national change of address forms without re-registering
  • 40,279 people who had moved counties without re-registering
  • 1,043 people who claimed the physical impossibility of a P.O. Box as their address
  • 98 people who registered after the deadline, and, among others
  • 10,315 people who were deceased on election day (8,718 of whom had been registered as dead before their votes were accepted)

Nearly five months have passed since the November election. Memories may have faded. Records may have been shredded. People have had time to cover their tracks and get their stories straight.

But it’s possible that if investigators keep digging they just might come across something that’s been overlooked, something that someone forgot to “take care of.”

Trump: WaPo Was Courageous to Admit Their ‘Mistake’ in Story about Call to Georgia Election Investigator

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Former President Donald Trump was incredibly generous, uncharacteristically so, to The Washington Post in a Tuesday night interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo. When asked about their correction of a very pivotal story about his December 23 telephone call with Frances Watson, the chief investigator for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, he replied:

It probably affected the Senate race. But it was a terrible thing.

I will say this. I was very happy that the Washington Post had the courage or whatever you want to call it to at least admit their mistake. I hope it was a mistake. But I think probably it came from the people in Georgia that run an election process that frankly is just absolutely terrible. … They were told something that didn’t exist and it made me sound bad and when I heard it, I said, ‘That’s ridiculous. I never said that.’

The Washington Post did a correction. A lot of pressure was put on them but they did a correction because they realized what they did was wrong.

Actually, they printed a correction because The Wall Street Journal had published an audio recording of the call which revealed the actual words that had been said. A recording, I might add, that had been deleted by someone who knew what would happen if it were found and later discovered in a “junk folder” .

The Post published the following correction to the story:

Correction: Two months after publication of this story, the Georgia secretary of state released an audio recording of President Donald Trump’s December phone call with the state’s top elections investigator. The recording revealed that The Post misquoted Trump’s comments on the call, based on information provided by a source. Trump did not tell the investigator to ‘find the fraud’ or say she would be ‘a national hero’ if she did so. Instead, Trump urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County, Ga., asserting she would find ‘dishonesty’ there. He also told her that she had ‘the most important job in the country right now.’ A story about the recording can be found here. The headline and text of this story have been corrected to remove quotes misattributed to Trump.

On Tuesday, the Post published an article to explain how this ‘error’ may have occurred. It was written by their media critic, Erik Wemple, He wrote that the “individual familiar with the call … spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the conversation.”

The original story had been “based on an account from Jordan Fuchs, the deputy secretary of state, whom Watson had briefed on [Trump’s] comments.”

Wemple spoke to Fuchs before writing his piece. She told him, “I believe the story accurately reflected the investigator’s interpretation of the call. The only mistake here was in the direct quotes, and they should have been more of a summary.”

“I think it’s pretty absurd for anybody to suggest that the president wasn’t urging the investigator to ‘find the fraud. These are quotes that [Watson] told me at the time.”

Is it the job of Jordan Fuchs, the deputy secretary of state, to interpret the President’s intent? Especially when she had not directly spoken to him. Certainly not. As a public official, people expect the facts from her office, rather than her interpretation of the facts.

“Misreporting the words of the highest elected official in the land is a serious lapse — and one that, in this case, seems so unnecessary,” Wemple wrote.

“The existence of the call itself is a towering exclusive. When it comes to phone calls, the only good sources are the ones who are dialed in,” Wemple explained. “The former president’s partisans will attempt to memorialize The Post’s story as a fabrication or ‘fake news.’ But a central fact remains: As the Journal’s recording attests, Trump behaved with all the crooked intent and suggestion that he brought to every other crisis of his presidency.”

And with that comment, journalist extraordinaire Erik Wemple interprets the President’s intent as well. Suddenly, we understand why Fox News’ Tucker Carlson used to distribute “Erik Wemple” coffee mugs as a joke during a now-discontinued feature of his program called “Final Exam.”

After Wemple’s article had run, the Post stated, “We corrected the story and published a separate news story last week — at the top of our site and on the front page — after we learned that our source had not been precise in relaying then President Trump’s words. We are not retracting our January story because it conveyed the substance of Trump’s attempt to influence the work of Georgia’s elections investigators.”

And with that, we’ve hit the trifecta. The media outlet whose slogan is “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” became the third party to interpret the President’s intent.

First, Watson injects her bias against Trump into her recap of the call to Fuchs. Fuchs embellishes the call further in her conversation with Washington Post writer Amy Gardner, who adds her own highly partisan views to what she’s been told.

Next, the other major networks jump on the bandwagon. They all run the story claiming that they had independently confirmed it. Oh really? With whom? Did they speak to Fuchs as well? And she felt it was okay to do so because, after all, that’s what the President had intended?

And what about Watson herself? She knew the quotes attributed to the President were false. Yet she didn’t feel the need to correct the record?

This little story perfectly illustrates the anatomy of a smear. Really it’s no more complicated than a game of “Telephone” among like-minded adults.

And it happens every day.