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Georgia asks DOJ to investigate largest county over alleged destruction of election documents

Fulton County's elections chief fired two workers who were seen shredding the voter applications on Friday and then disclosed the problem to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office earlier Monday, state officials said.

Updated: October 11, 2021 - 2:49pm

Georgia's top election official on Monday demanded that the U.S. Justice Department open an investigation into election management in the state's largest county after officials in Fulton County disclosed they had shredded at least 300 voter applications for its upcoming municipal elections in apparent violation of the law.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office told Just the News that his office had also opened an inquiry into the disclosure by Fulton County officials but believed it was time for federal prosecutors to review chronic election irregularities inside the state's largest county, which includes the city of Atlanta.

"After 20 years of documented failure in Fulton County elections, Georgians are tired of waiting to see what the next embarrassing revelation will be," Raffensperger said in a statement. "The Department of Justice needs to take a long look at what Fulton County is doing and how their leadership disenfranchises Fulton voters through incompetence and malfeasance."

He added, "The voters of Georgia are sick of Fulton County's failures."

State officials told Just the News that Fulton County's elections chief fired two workers who were seen shredding the voter applications on Friday and then disclosed the problem to Raffensperger's office earlier Monday. 

Georgia law requires election officials to preserve all documents related to primary or general elections for 24 months after the election. The shredded documents are believed to be voter applications to vote in this fall's local elections in Fulton County, officials said.

In addition, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently warned all voting jurisdictions nationwide, including those conducting audits into the November 2020 vote, that destruction of election evidence related to federal officeholder elections could also violate federal laws.

"The Civil Rights Act of 1960, now codified at 52 U.S.C. §§ 20701-20706, governs certain '[f]ederal election records,'" Garland wrote this summer. "Section 301 of the Act requires state and local election officials to 'retain and preserve' all records relating to any 'act requisite to voting' for twenty-two months after the conduct of 'any general, special, or primary election' at which citizens vote for 'President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the Senate, [or] Member of the House of Representatives,' 52 U.S.C. §20701. The materials covered by Section 301 extend beyond 'papers' to include other 'records.'"

State officials told Just the News the review will include whether similar destruction of records occurred in earlier elections, including those for federal office.

The announcement Monday comes after several major revelations earlier this year about the extent of election vote-count problems in Fulton County.

A state-appointed monitor chronicled to Raffensperger in a memo 29 pages of irregularities, mismanagement and other problems in the Atlanta vote counting center during last November's election ranging from double scanning of ballots to insecure transportation of ballots and violations of voter privacy.

The monitor, Carter Jones, reported that while he found no systemic fraud, he did find widespread mismanagement. His report spurred Raffensperger to take advantage of a new state election integrity law passed this spring. He recently requested that the State Elections Board take the first step of placing Fulton County in receivership, meaning state officials could manage the county's 2022 and 2024 elections.