- JUST THE NEWS - John Solomon - SEP 28, 2021 -
Probe comes after newspaper report of improper chain of custody documentation, DeKalb County election chief taking leave.
The Georgia Secretary of State's office has opened an investigation into the handling of drop box ballots last November in one of the state's Democratic strongholds following a media report that there were problems with chain of custody documentation in DeKalb County.
The probe, confirmed in a statement to Just the News, comes at a tumultuous time for DeKalb County, whose elections director was placed on an extended leave of absence two weeks ago. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office said the probe is ongoing and the county is cooperating.
"The Secretary of State's office has opened an investigation into the drop box chain of custody documentation for Dekalb County," Raffensperger's office told Just the News. "The investigation includes not only whether Dekalb County properly complied with the documentation required by the State Election Board but also whether the actual procedures used by Dekalb adequately protected chain of custody for ballots returned to drop boxes."
A spokesman for DeKalb County did not immediately return calls or respond to emails from Just the News last week or Monday seeking comment.
The announcement of the probe comes less than a month after the Georgia Star news site reported that 43,907 of the 61,731 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes in the November 2020 presidential election in DeKalb County — 72% —were counted in official tallies certified by the county and the state though they had not met the chain of custody requirements set by the Georgia State Election Board on July 1, 2020.
Raffensperger's office said it did not receive most counties' chain of custody forms for drop box ballots until January and February of this year, well after the election. Since that time, the office has found problems with a handful of counties, mostly small, rural and Republican strongholds.
"As we announced earlier this year, Coffee, Grady, and Taylor counties all failed to complete any ballot transfer documents," the office told Just the News. "They were referred for investigation. In Stephens County, the elections director emptied an absentee ballot drop box on her own instead of with the two people that the State Election Board rule required. Stephen County was referred to the Attorney General's office by the State Election Board."
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