A judge has ordered Georgia’s Fulton County to unseal just shy of 150,000 mail-in ballots it took in during the 2020 presidential election, after plaintiffs behind an ongoing lawsuit claimed they may be marred by fraud.
In a Friday ruling, Superior Court Judge Brian Amero said election officials in Fulton County – Georgia’s most populous county, which includes Atlanta – must make plans to unseal 147,000 ballots, saying the exact process would be determined at a later hearing, according to the Washington Post.
“We will continue to participate in the judicial process that will ultimately validate the integrity of the elections process,” county spokesperson Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez said in a statement following Amero’s order.
The ruling comes amid a lawsuit brought by nine different plaintiffs in December, which posits that counterfeit or otherwise fraudulent ballots were counted as legitimate following the 2020 race. While three other ballot audits were conducted last year, none finding evidence of fraud, the plaintiffs have requested to inspect the ballots more closely, asking for higher resolution scans so they can be “forensically analyzed.”
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The decision was condemned as “outrageous” by Rob Pitts, who chairs the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. He added that it would only keep alive the fraud claims, which he dubbed the “Big Lie,” and represents a waste of tax dollars.
It’s a shame to see that the ‘Big Lie’ lives on and could cost the hardworking taxpayers of this county.
Former US President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed widespread voter fraud in the 2020 race, though despite a flurry of lawsuits brought after the November election, little compelling evidence ever emerged. He has nonetheless continued to argue that his victory was stolen from him and that President Joe Biden only won due to the alleged fraud.
Though he has been a vocal critic of the fraud charges, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he welcomed the Friday ruling, explaining that he had always encouraged residents to pursue concerns about the 2020 election “through the legal avenue.”
“Fulton County has a long-standing history of election mismanagement that has understandably weakened voters’ faith in its system,” he said in a statement, adding, “Allowing this audit provides another layer of transparency and citizen engagement.”
From day one, I have encouraged Georgians with concerns about the election in their counties to pursue those claims through legal avenues. https://t.co/ekR2A9t68T
— GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (@GaSecofState) May 21, 2021
According to the results of the December recount, Trump lost Georgia to Biden by a margin of 11,779 votes, which is 766 fewer than the number initially certified after the November election.
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