Georgia’s House speaker says Fulton County should be the subject of an independent probe after multiple reports have emerged detailing alleged issues with the Nov. 3, 2020, election and an audit that occurred after the contest.
Rep. David Ralston, a Republican who is speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, noted in a recent letter that there are serious questions about how the election unfolded in Georgia’s largest county, which includes Atlanta.
“Recently, media reports have surfaced which call into question the way in which Fulton County conducted, counted, and audited the November 2020 Presidential Election. These reports have been accompanied by video and other evidence which is part of ongoing litigation and requires thorough examination and explanation,” Ralston told Fulton County’s Elections Director Richard Barron.
“Given the seriousness of this situation and the possible repercussions for our state and nation, it is time we have an independent investigation—once and for all—of the way in which Fulton County conducted, counted, and audited the November 2020 Presidential Election.”
Ralston urged Barron to request a probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, asserting the law enforcement agency would “follow the evidence wherever it may lead to determine if any irregularities or willful fraud occurred.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, whose director was copied on the letter, didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
Barron, whom some county officials moved to fire earlier this year—though he kept his job after others defended him—hasn’t responded to Ralston. But Robb Pitts, chairman of the county’s Board of Commissioners, did issue a response.
Noting he was in receipt of a copy of Ralston’s letter, Pitts said that he has been brought no “proof of any allegations of intentional wrongdoing” related to the election.
The election process was monitored by Carter Jones, a contractor hired by the State Elections Board, as well as observers from both political parties. Jones said in his report, which was only released recently, that there were major issues with the election process, but also claimed that there was no evidence of fraud.
Pitts said Fulton County shouldn’t be investigated unless other counties are probed as well.
“While Fulton County is the largest county and therefore under the most scrutiny, it is also my understanding that other counties had issues in their elections and finding ballots not included in the initial tabulation,” he wrote. “If you are requesting that Fulton County be the subject of such an investigation, then I believe it would only be fair that all counties with issues be subject to investigation.”
Ralston’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the reply letter by press time.
Republicans control both chambers in Georgia, as well as the governor’s office, but officials have resisted calls for an in-depth examination of the election. Proponents say the examination should closely follow the audit being done in Maricopa County, Arizona, while critics point to multiple recounts that were done in Georgia in the wake of the election.
“I am glad to see that Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston and others are finally calling for a GBI investigation into the fraud being uncovered in Fulton County. But, as I have been screaming from the rooftops for months, we need a forensic audit in all 159 counties in Georgia,” Vernon Jones, a former state representative who is challenging Gov. Brian Kemp from the right, said in a statement.
Jones is a supporter of former President Donald Trump, who lost Georgia by about 12,000 votes to Democrat Joe Biden after winning the state in 2016.
Fulton County came under intense criticism for irregular ballot-counting practices, including indicating counting was done on election night, but resuming after observers and the monitor left State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The county faces several lawsuits over how the election was run, including one in which plaintiffs were granted absentee ballot images that they say shows fraud occurred in the subsequent audit.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has alleged that no widespread fraud took place in the state during the election, but called last week for Fulton County to fire both Barron and Ralph Jones, the county’s voter registration chief, in light of the series of reports detailing alleged irregularities, including nearly 200 ballots being scanned twice.