Georgia Secretary of State Asks Court Not to Give Petitioners Access to Ballots

Georgia Secretary of State Asks Court Not to Give Petitioners Access to Ballots
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta on Nov. 11, 2020. (Brynn Anderson/AP Photo)
Zachary Stieber

A Georgia voting integrity group that seeks to examine ballots cast in the 2020 election shouldn’t be granted access to the original ballots, the state’s secretary of state said in a new filing.

Giving plaintiffs in the court case access to the original ballots would violate recent updates to the Georgia Open Records Act, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in an April 2 motion in Fulton County Superior Court.

The office of Raffensperger, a Republican, said he takes no position on the merits of the case, but “respectfully requests that the Court permit Petitioners to inspect ballot images only, and deny Petitioners’ request to inspect and scan ballots.”

“This result is consistent with Georgia law, and appropriately balances Petitioners’ interests in inspecting ballot images with the State’s and the public’s interest in maintaining the security and integrity of confidential ballots,” the filing states.

The amicus brief was filed in Favorito et al. v Cooney et al.

Petitioners were given scanned ballot images per a ruling last month.

Garland Favorito, head of a voting integrity group called VOTER GA, along with other voters, filed the case, alleging there were abnormalities in how ballots were counted in Georgia in the 2020 presidential race.

Election workers count Fulton County ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Nov. 4, 2020. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Election workers count Fulton County ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Nov. 4, 2020. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
The petition cited multiple poll workers who said they observed unusual occurrences during ballot counting and noted that Election Day observers at State Farm Arena in Atlanta were led to believe that counting was over for the night, only to resume after all observers had left.

Election officials failed to comply with state law that requires the government to treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner, the petitioners said, asking the court to give them access to ballots to ensure the election results were correct.

The judge hearing the case, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero, said last month that he’s inclined to order the ballots unsealed and reviewed by experts hired by Favorito. Fulton County officials didn’t immediately return a request for comment. A county official on April 5 told the court in a document that she objects to the proposed order to unseal election materials.

Raffensperger in the new filing asked Amero not to let the group examine the ballots without considering his brief.

Favorito told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement: “Secretary of State Raffensperger never ceases to amaze me. He is now officially on record in adamant opposition to transparent elections.”

“If the November 3, 2020, election controversy does not justify unsealing the ballots, then what ever would? Ballots have no voter information, so there is nothing secret about them as the brief tried to imply,“ he added. ”The ballots belong to the people of Georgia, not Brad Raffensperger. Citizens like us should not have to spend thousands of dollars and hours of our time to sue officials so we can see what should be public records in the first place.”

Raffensperger said in a statement on April 5 that some media outlets were mischaracterizing the motion.

“The paper ballots have been sealed, and recent updates to the Georgia Open Records Act allow for the public disclosure for ballot images only (not ballots). In fact, we worked with the Georgia legislature to make sure ballot images could be made available for review. Nonetheless, it is our responsibility to protect the security and confidentiality of the ballots according to the requirements of the Georgia Elections Code,” he wrote.

“We welcome the public disclosure of these ballot images, and simply request that the judge set up a process to prevent any party from creating and spreading false information.”