Fulton County election issues: Ballot counting, voter rolls, challenges, board seats, lawsuits

The most recent issue in Fulton County was a missing box of early in-person ballots from the November election. Although more issues have cropped up, there is no indication so far that any outcomes should be changed.

Published: November 14, 2023 11:00pm

While Fulton County, Ga., initially missed a box of early voting ballots during tabulation of last Tuesday’s election results, the county has a history of election issues since at least 2020. Fulton County, which includes Atlanta and is the most populous Georgia county, has experienced issues with ballot counting, voter rolls, and lawsuits over elections.

On Tuesday, the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections (BRE) has acknowledged “some batches” of absentee in-person ballots were missed from the Nov. 7 elections, but later found during the recount.

During the board's public meeting Tuesday morning, Elections Director Nadine Williams said that “some batches” of Advance Voting Ballots, or early in-person ballots, were initially missed from last Tuesday's election but were found during the recount Monday. 

During the meeting Tuesday, Williams also said the process of counting the early voting ballots will be completed by the afternoon and that notes of what happened will be taken to ensure the issue doesn’t occur in next year’s elections. 

BRE Chair Patrise Perkins-Hooker told Just the News on Tuesday that a “second recount was undertaken to verify the accuracy of the Advanced Voting ballots which did not agree in the first recount with the election day totals. It was only 300 ballots off. This error was the result of a group of ballots in one box not being scanned in last night. The oversight was caught last night and today's recount was called."

The county BRE is also short one member since the county Board of Commissioners has not accepted the nomination of the Fulton County GOP’s candidate, Jason Frazier. The board appointed the county Democratic Party’s two nominees and the other Republican nominee. The start of the terms for the BRE members was July 1.

The BRE has been able to conduct election business without the fifth member.

The county Republican Party believes the board rejected Frazier for challenging voter rolls, and has sued the commissioners for allegedly violating county law by not appointing the party’s nominee.

Frazier previously told Just the News that he found about 20,000 duplicate registrations in Fulton County’s voter rolls and believes that “a bulk” of them have been resolved. He also submitted about 10,000 voter registration challenges and said that there are around 1,600 voter registrations in “challenge” status.

Challenges to voter registrations can be made for reasons such as voters registering at non-residential addresses, missing names, and deceased voters who are still on the rolls. Many of Frazier's challenges involve registrations with invalid or non-residential addresses.

Amid the lawsuit regarding Frazier, 2020 presidential election audit errors were found, according to a consent order.

Back in July of this year, according to a consent order approved by the Georgia State Election Board, multiple errors occurred during the audit of Fulton County's 2020 presidential election.

"Human error" was the cause for mistakes in the audit, according to state investigators, as the process required paper ballots being sorted by candidate, hand-counted totals being written on paper and then transcribed into computers, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The outcome of the audit wasn't changed by the finding, which showed Joe Biden still received more votes than then-President Donald Trump.

The State Election Board approved the consent order on June 21, when it also decided not to replace the county elections board, after considering taking it over.

However, Fulton County had multiple irregularities during the presidential election.

The state’s handpicked election monitor for the county documented two dozen pages of mismanagement and irregularities during vote counting in Atlanta in November 2020, including double-scanning of ballots, insecure transport of ballots, and violations of voter privacy. 

Fulton County is also facing a lawsuit regarding alleged counterfeit ballots that were included in the 2020 absentee election results in Fulton County. Specifically, the lawsuit claims that people who were part of a hand recount of the election said that there were absentee ballots that weren’t creased or appear to be marked by hand.

The case, Garland Favorito, et al. v. Alex Wan, et al., was reinstated by the Georgia Court of Appeals earlier this year, after the Georgia Supreme Court last year redefined what constitutes "standing" for a party to bring a lawsuit, including voters.

The lawsuit is still ongoing before the Superior Court of Fulton County.

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