On Tuesday, December 22, former chair of the Jackson County elections board and former United States Marine Ron Johnson participated in a public meeting of the current board of elections, during which the challenges that he and True the Vote presented were discussed – and dismissed as having no probable cause for the board’s pursuit.
The video of that meeting is included below.
Jackson is just one of the 159 Georgia counties where True the Vote has partnered with county residents to validate the vote. In the county, over 1,140 of the 2,320 records challenged have filed a change of address.
Of the records, 104 voters show absentee ballots for the January 5 general and special election runoff. Of those, six requested electronic ballots, two of which show records of having moved from the state. And one, a ballot that was returned to the county by the voter, shows that voter as having moved to Oklahoma prior to the election.
Additionally, 70 of the records show requested mail-in ballots, forty of which had voter records showing “moved, State of Georgia.” Forty-four of those ballots were returned and accepted, 25 of which were “moved, State of Georgia.”
When Johnson told the board that it was their responsibility to verify that the voters listed as having moved, who have cast ballots for this election, are still residents in the county and therefore eligible to vote, the current chair of board dismissed the notion and arguing that because a challenge must convince the board that there is probably cause to verify a vote, the burden remained on Johnson and True the Vote to investigate.
In fact, the chair, Eric Crawford, got heated enough at one point that he threatened to have Mr. Johnson removed from the meeting.
In the video of the meeting below, you can hear objections being lodged by Pete Fuller, Democrat Chair of Jackson County. Those objections are heard and eventually agreed upon by the board in a partisan vote. The challenges based on well-established precedent for probable cause were rejected.
Under Georgia law, a resident who lives in a county can dispute the eligibility of any ballot submitted for a vote within that county, on a variety of grounds including residency. Johnson’s legal challenge to verify ballots produced an extensive list of names of voters on the rolls who are listed as having changed their residences, and one who we can now confirm moved to another state and yet cast a ballot that is being counted in the election.
We have outlined in detail both what the law says, and how we have followed that law in bringing these challenges to the attention of the counties. The fallout for those who have been the face of these challenges has been extensive.
It is imperative in the interest of free and fair elections and to the protection of the franchise for every citizen, that the process be fair, open, and accountable. Both the major political parties agree that counting every legal, eligible vote is the hallmark of free and fair elections. But that assurance requires vigilance against counting illegal or ineligible votes, so as not to disenfranchise any eligible votes in any given precinct or municipality.
Yet, in the Georgia Special Election, True the Vote can now confirm as a matter of record that ballots were submitted from voters who show a change of residence, whose residency in the county is not verified, and that the board of elections, by a partisan vote, determined not to act.
These numbers are just from the first few days of challenges. This is just one county, the first we’re reporting findings from out of 159 counties total, and already there are hundreds of voter records showing changes of address, and a board of elections that is unwilling to verify in any of those cases that the voter is still a resident in the county.
True the Vote has submitted 364,541 Elector Challenges from Georgia voters, from the counties in which they reside. An Elector Challenge is a unique feature in Georgia law (GA. CODE ANN. § 21-2-230). It allows a voter to challenge the eligibility of any other voters in his or her county if probable cause exists to show that the challenged voter does not meet the qualifications legally required to cast a ballot. It’s one of few remaining ways that a state can update their rolls and represent the local electorate accurately to the state and the federal government.
It is that process which resulted in uncovering these residency changes among submitted ballots, and that process continues on a county by county basis.