56 Counties Admit Images Not Available Despite Federal, State Retention Laws
ATLANTA, Nov. 10, 2021 /Christian Newswire/ -- VoterGA announced at its press conference on Nov. 9 that 74 Georgia counties have been unable to produce all the original ballot images from the November 2020 election, according to the ballot image analysis team. The team obtained admissions from 56 counties that most or all of the images created automatically by the Dominion voting system for results tabulation have been destroyed. VoterGA volunteers made the determinations by submitting Open Records Requests (ORR) for the images to each county.
Ballot images are a critical aspect of election records that have long been required to be retained by federal and state law. Federal law requires a 22-month retention period for election records while state law requires a 24-month retention period for election documents which are generally considered to include those that are electronic. [USC 52 20701, O.C.G.A. 21-2-73]
The Dominion voting system automatically creates images for in-person voted ballots on compact flash memory cards. It automatically creates images for mail-in ballots on memory flash drives. The cards or drives are then manually uploaded to the county's Election Management Server (EMS). Some densely populated counties also use high speed scanners that automatically transfer images directly to the EMS.
Counties admit non-conformance or evade ORRs
At least 28 counties admitted having no original images at all and 22 of those counties only had recount images that some claimed are the same as originals. Recount images don't have original time stamps that can be used for audit purposes nor do they have original meta data that shows how votes were initially interpreted. The images can also be changed by tampering between scans and are therefore, invalid to audit an election.
VoterGA received emails from another 28 counties admitting they do not have a complete set of original images. Various counties were missing all in-person voting images, all absentee images, all Election Day images or a substantial portion of one or more of those groups.
Another 18 counties did not comply with repeated ORRs over a period of two months. Most simply did not respond but some frustrated the requestors by requiring exorbitant fees for images that most counties provided for around $25-$50. Fees requested by counties ranged from $0 to $1,700, which is too unnecessarily expensive to comply with ORR law. Six of those counties claim to have mailed images that VoterGA team members have not yet received. These images may also be incomplete or recount images only.
VoterGA showed written confirmation from former State Election Director Chris Harvey granting permission to erase in-person ballot images from the memory cards. "These violations are yet another glaring reason why Georgians cannot trust the Secretary of State's office," said Garland Favorito, co-founder of VoterGA. "We desperately need a multi-county audit of the 2020 election to resolve these serious problems before 2022."
Here's a link to the press conference video, which includes the list of counties and their responses to the Open Records Requests:
VoterGA is a non-partisan, 501(c)3 registered non-profit organization created by a coalition of citizens working to restore election integrity in Georgia. We advocate for independently verifiable, auditable, recount capable and transparent elections.