Georgia Republicans set process in motion for state takeover of Fulton County elections

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Georgia Republicans requested a performance review of the top elections official in Fulton County, the first step toward a possible state takeover of Atlanta-area voting contests.

A group of two dozen lawmakers signed a letter, obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, seeking the inquiry into Fulton elections chief Richard Barron, who is facing backlash for his handling of the 2020 election in the Democratic stronghold.

“We’re asking them to simply correct a record they say is easily corrected. Is it or isn’t it? The people of Georgia deserve answers,” Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller wrote in the letter.

Under a Georgia law approved this year, the State Election Board can remove county elections management after a performance review or a similar investigation if they find “nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence in the administration of the elections” in at least two elections within two years, after which a temporary superintendent would be installed.

But first, two state representatives and two state senators from the county must back the request for the performance review.

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With the state Senate meeting that threshold, Miller noted: “We have every reason to believe that the requisite number of Fulton’s House delegation will respond likewise, thereby triggering the performance review.”

At least two Georgia House Republicans in Fulton County — House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones and state Rep. Chuck Martin — told AJC they would be calling for a performance review as well, which indicates there is sufficient support across the Legislature.

Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts acknowledged the state senators’ letter, calling it the “first official step in the process.” He also said the county would “fight to the end, no matter what the outcome will be.”

President Joe Biden received nearly 73% of the vote in Fulton County, while former President Donald Trump was favored by 26% of residents. Biden garnered 243,904 more votes in the county. Trump lost the state of Georgia by around 12,000 votes, and Republican allies of the former president have sought to contest the ballot counts throughout the state, particularly in Fulton County, after election officials were slower to report tallies in the aftermath of the election.

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Fulton County’s two separate recounts attested to the validity of the tallies, but more reasons to question the process have emerged in recent weeks.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger demanded the firing of Barron and Ralph Jones, Fulton County’s registration chief, after it was revealed that nearly 200 absentee ballots were scanned twice after digital images of the paperwork were made public under the Peach State’s new voting law. There is no indication the double-counted ballots influenced the final total votes for either Trump or Biden, though the duplicates would have given Biden 27 more votes if they were tabulated.

“Fulton County’s continued failures have gone on long enough with no accountability,” Raffensperger wrote in a tweet. “Rick Barron and Ralph Jones, Fulton’s registration chief, must be fired and removed from Fulton’s elections leadership immediately. Fulton’s voters and the people of Georgia deserve better.”

Separately this month, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston called for an “independent investigation” into Fulton County on the same day state Sen. Burt Jones, a Republican on the Senate Government Oversight Committee, sent a letter to committee Chairman Sen. Marty Harbin calling on Raffensperger to testify about the election results.

VoterGa, a group that organized a lawsuit seeking high-resolution re-scans of ballots and an in-person review of 147,000 unsealed absentee ballots, said duplicates are just one form of evidence in the 2020 election process that suggest fraud in the contest.

“If we’re finding this in Fulton County, we’re probably going to find it throughout the state. The question is, why did it happen?” said David Cross, a member of the group contesting the election results. “The simple fact that it happened and we found it here means that it probably occurred elsewhere.”

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Trump made headlines after November for asking Raffensperger to “find” the necessary votes to solidify his election victory in the once solid-red state, prompting the opening of a criminal investigation in February.

A report written by an independent election observer monitoring the November election in Fulton, which includes much of Atlanta, found the county’s election was sloppily handled but did not uncover any fraud. Raffensperger opened an investigation last month into the handling of paperwork in Fulton County related to the use of drop boxes for the 2020 election.

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Tags: News, Georgia, 2020 Elections, Election Fraud, Atlanta

Original Author: Jake Dima

Original Location: Georgia Republicans set process in motion for state takeover of Fulton County elections