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Georgia elections chief vows to 'follow the money' in harvesting probe, prosecute if warranted

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says next step is to get State Elections Board to issue subpoena targeting whistleblower who claims he was paid to illegally collect ballots.

Published: March 1, 2022 8:01pm

Updated: March 1, 2022 10:42pm

Georgia's election chief is vowing a full-scale investigation into allegations Democrats may have illegally harvested ballots in the 2020 election, saying his team is preparing subpoenas to "follow the money" and bring prosecutions if warranted.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sought to dispel whispers in conservative circles that he is slow-walking the probe he announced in January, explaining to Just the News that the only delays are related to administrative changes on the State Elections Board. That panel possesses the power to issue subpoenas Raffensperger says his investigators need to solve the case.

"Right now we're waiting for the State Election Board to pick their new chair, so that we can ask for a subpoena," he told the "Just the News" television show Tuesday night on Real America's Voice.

Raffensperger says his investigative team wants to use the subpoena to secure the identity of a John Doe witness/whistleblower who told the election watchdog group True the Vote last year that he was paid thousands of dollars to collect third-party ballots during Georgia's November 2020 general election and Jan. 5, 2021 runoff election that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.

Georgia law expressly prohibits third parties from collecting absentee ballots, a practice known as harvesting that Raffensperger helped to explicitly outlaw in 2019.

"We outlawed ballot harvesting as soon as I took office," Raffensperger said. "We think that's a serious violation of state law. The only person that should touch your ballot ever is you, the voter, or the election official when they receive your absentee ballot.

"So we're going to do a thorough investigation, but we need to get a subpoena for the fella who this John Doe is. Was he paid? How much was he paid? And then who paid him. And we're going to follow the money, and we're gonna get to the bottom of it. And we're gonna prosecute this, if we find that there's substance to it."

Raffensperger's comments were his most detailed to date about the probe, which was prompted by a criminal complaint filed by True the Vote and its founder Catherine Engelbrecht on Nov. 30.

The group said in the complaint, obtained by Just the News, that it had assembled evidence that scores of activists worked with nonprofit groups to collect and deliver thousands of absentee ballots, often during wee-hour operations, to temporary voting drop boxes distributed around the state during the pandemic.

The group informed the secretary its evidence included video footage from surveillance cameras placed by counties outside the drop boxes as well as geolocation data for the cell phones of more than 200 activists seen on the tapes purportedly showing the dates and times of ballot drop-offs, according to the complaint.

Georgia law strictly prohibits third-party activists from picking up and delivering ballots on behalf of voters, a tactic called "harvesting" that liberal organizers have tried to get legalized in many battleground states without success. The U.S. Supreme Court this summer rejected Democrat efforts to overturn an Arizona law that outlawed harvesting in the battleground state.

Raffensperger's comments came the same day a former Supreme Court Justice in Wisconsin reported to the state legislature his investigation of the 2020 election found widespread evidence of irregularities, including third parties casting absentee ballots on behalf of disabled nursing home residents unable to make voting decisions on their own.,

Mike Gableman said the problems he uncovered are serious enough to warrant lawmakers to consider taking the symbolic action of decertifying the final results that declared Joe Biden the winner in Wisconsin.

Arizona this week also announced that a study funded by the state Senate estimates 200,000 or more absentee ballots cast in that state in November 2020 had signatures that did not match the voter's registration.

Raffensperger also confirmed another election integrity issue in his state first reported Monday by Just the News: More than 2,200 non-citizen foreigners tried to register in Georgia and got to provisional status on the voter rolls. While none voted, the secretary said the efforts show why Georgia needs to amend its Constitution to outlaw noncitizen voting rather than leave it simply banned by a state law that could be changed one day.

"I believe only American citizens should vote in our elections," he said. "And that's why I want a constitutional amendment. State law precludes it, but the Constitution is unclear. And we need a constitutional amendment."

As for the foreigners who tried to register, Raffensperger said: "We're gonna investigate. They didn't vote, but they got on the voter roll. We want to find out why. And then we're going to prosecute."

For the second time in 2022, Raffensperger also addressed the conversation he had in late 2020 with Donald Trump in which the president asked him to investigate what turned out to be unproven allegations of voter fraud in the state. He explicitly refused to say Trump broke any laws while making the request.

"I'm an engineer. I'm not a lawyer. So I'll let the lawyers answer that one," he said. "I just wanted to make sure that President Trump understood that we checked, and continue to, checked and looked at them, every single allegation that was made. And there just weren't the votes to find. They said there was 10,315 dead people. At that time, we had found two, and then we found two more. They said there are 6,600 underage voters. There weren't any of that. So every allegation that was made, we checked it out." 

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