ATLANTA — Georgia Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger sent a letter yesterday refuting election fraud claims to the state's congressional representatives who were planning to object to its electoral votes being counted.
Issued to Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Rep. Jody Hice and Rep. Barry Loudermilk, Raffensperger asked for them to submit the letter into the Congressional Record, so that "your colleagues in the House and Senate have accurate information on which to base their votes to your objection."
The 10-page letter goes through in some detail the myriad claims of fraud or irregularities that have been brought by allies of President Donald Trump in their quest to have Georgia's election results overturned.
"Law enforcement officers with my office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have been diligently investigating all claims of fraud or irregularities and continue to investigate," Raffensperger writes. "Their work has shown me that there is nowhere close to sufficient evidence to put in doubt the result of the presidential contest in Georgia."
Ultimately, Rep. Hice did lodge the objection, but it failed without Sen. Loeffler's support following the siege of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
The letter examines what Raffensperger described as four main types of claim: about Dominion voting machines, about absentee ballots, about poll watchers and their access, and about generally illegal votes.
Much of his response is a collation of the kinds of refutations he and the officials in his office, such as voting system implementation manager Gabriel Sterling, have now been giving regularly for months.
Regarding Dominion, the letter examines the central conspiracy claim that the company was founded for deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to flip votes in an election, and that the machines were used to that end in Georgia's election.
Raffensperger notes Georgia's machines were examined for interference and cleared by a third-party testing company, Pro V&V, and states, "I can definitively say that the results reported by the Dominion Voting System used in Georgia were accurate."
On the matter of absentee ballots, he refutes that a settlement agreement he entered into with Democratic groups last year over signature matching was unlawful or watered the process down. Two federal judges have explicitly upheld the agreement as lawful.
The letter also notes - as Raffensperger and Sterling have noted on numerous occasions - that despite claims to the contrary, the rate of ballot rejection for signature issues did not drop significantly in 2020 relative to past elections.
Two things that haven't been addressed as frequently also were, including the claim about "pristine ballots" that some election workers associated with Rudy Giuliani's efforts have made in Georgia General Assembly hearings.
The idea with that claim is that the ballots must have been artificially produced, because they did not have folds.
"Emergency ballots... are scanned straight into the scanner. Certain military/overseas ballots or ballots that are damaged and cannot be scanned are duplicated and would also not be folded prior to scanning," Raffensperger wrote. "The unstated implication of this allegation is that county elections officials are creating fake or invalid ballots and running them through scanners. There is absolutely no evidence that this happened a single time in Georgia."
Addressing so-called "ballot harvesting" - the practice by political parties or groups of collecting absentee ballots from individuals and submitting them en masse, which is illegal in Georgia - Raffensperger said an analysis done by the MITRE Corporation's National Election Security Lab found "no anomalous points; no suspicious indicators of ballot harvesting."
Poll watchers and State Farm Arena
Raffensperger's letter acknowledges the claims from some poll watchers that they were obstructed by election officials from full view of what was going on, or otherwise harassed, and said "it is not unusual in any election for partisan poll watchers and election officials to disagree on the exact level of access that they should receive."
Georgia law is somewhat contradictory on the matter, allowing for broad access to poll watchers but also giving broad discretion to election managers in how to deal with them.
"Throughout this election cycle, my office has told Georgia counties to ensure transparency and openness and, when any questions arise, to err on the side of transparency," the secretary wrote.
He also noted the now-infamous episode at State Farm Arena, where the state says Republican poll watchers, as well as the media, left around 10:30 p.m. on Election Night because workers had said counting was done for the night, believe it to be so. The president's advocates have said those poll watchers were told to leave.
Counting resumed sometime after that, on the call of Fulton Elections Director Rick Barron, after he learned they had stopped.
The resulting time period of counting from around 11 p.m.-1 a.m. has been of particular focus for the president's supporters. Selected surveillance video highlights of it have been presented as a smoking gun of fraud by Giuliani.
Raffensperger noted his office has made all of the footage, which spans the better bulk of a 24-hour period, available online.
"While the president and his allies have used snippets of that video to imply untoward activity, review of the entire surveillance tape by both law enforcement officers with my office and fact checkers has shown that no untoward activity took place - election officials simply scanned valid ballots as they had been doing all night," Raffensperger wrote.
On this matter, Raffensperger goes over the laundry list of different types of supposedly illegal votes that Trump's legal advocates presented in a lawsuit.
They included claims such as 2,056 illegal felon votes, 66,241 invalid underage votes and 1,043 votes from people inappropriately registered at P.O. boxes.
You can read that portion of the letter for the full breakdown.
"There will end up being a small amount of illegal votes (there always is in any election because federal and state law err on the side of letting people vote and punishing them after the fact)," Raffensperger writes, "but nowhere near the amount that would put the result of the presidential election in question."