Georgia’s secretary of state on Thursday called for Fulton County to fire top elections officials or face takeover by the state.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said the county must fire Richard Barron, its elections director, and Ralph Jones, the county’s voter registration chief.
“Every time we think we’ve reached the peak of Fulton’s elections mismanagement issues, more comes to light,” Raffensperger told The Epoch Times via email.
“I’ve been calling for change in Fulton since day one. Maintaining public confidence in our elections begins in Fulton County. Now, with SB202, the State Election Board has the authority to make that happen. If Fulton County doesn’t take action to clean their own house, then I re-iterate my call that the State Election Board should use their new authority to clean it for them,” he added.
Georgia’s Senate Bill 2020, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in March, allows the board to suspend a county official if the official is found to have committed at least three violations of state law or election rules in the last two election cycles.
Raffensperger is no longer head of the board and state lawmakers have not replaced him. Rebecca Sullivan, vice chair of the board, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Fulton County.
The Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections voted in February to fire Barron, finding the county’s conduct during the 2020 election cycle was “sloppy and inefficient.” But the termination was blocked by the county’s Board of Commissioners.
Raffensperger’s statement comes after an election integrity group said an analysis of ballot images proved that fraud occurred in an audit that took place in the county, which is the largest in the state and encompasses Atlanta.
“They’ve been saying that there’s no evidence of fraud. That’s not true. And they’re misleading people in Georgia; there has been evidence of fraud for six months,” Garland Favorito, head of Voters Organized for Trusted Election Results in Georgia, told a press conference in Georgia this week.
Additionally, ballot images made public under Georgia’s new law showed that Fulton officials scanned nearly 200 ballots twice, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Before that, the county failed to produce chain-of-custody forms for some ballots dropped off at drop boxes.
An official with Raffensperger’s office told The Epoch Times that the revelations do not show fraud. Carter Jones, who the State Election Board tapped to monitor the 2020 election, and who observed “massive” issues, told the paper that the double-counting is not evidence of fraud.
“Fulton is so poor at managing the actual process that if they had actually tried to rig the election, they would have bungled it and we would have found out,” he said.
Robb Pitts, the chairman of the Fulton County Commission, acknowledged the possibility of “small-scale human error” but claimed that “allegations of intentional wrongdoing or fraud remain untrue and baseless.”
Favorito and Republican challengers to Raffensperger and Kemp said officials knew about the irregularities but shielded them from the public while proclaiming the evidence secure.
Vernon Jones, who is running for governor, used the same phrase Raffensperger offered about Fulton County.
“Based on recent reports out of Fulton County: 1. Brian Kemp should resign. 2. Brad Raffensberger should follow him. It’s time to CLEAN HOUSE here in the state of Georgia,” Jones said on Twitter.
A Kemp spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. An official with Raffensperger’s office said that counties run elections and the state merely oversees that.