Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robb Pitts also reported the matter to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) for an investigation.
“Elections are the most important function of our government,” Pitts said in a statement. “We have committed to transparency and integrity.”
Raffensperger, who has repeatedly criticized election operations in the heavily Democratic county that includes most of Atlanta, said in a news release that the Fulton County workers shredded 300 voter registration records. The county has roughly 800,000 voters on its rolls. The applications in question had no party affiliation because Georgia voters do not register by party.
But the Republican secretary of state called on the U.S. Justice Department “to take a long look at what Fulton County is doing and how their leadership disenfranchises Fulton voters through incompetence and malfeasance.”
“After 20 years of documented failure in Fulton County elections, Georgians are tired of waiting to see what the next embarrassing revelation will be,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “The voters of Georgia are sick of Fulton County’s failures.”
Jessica Corbitt, a county spokeswoman, told the Associated Press that it remains unclear whether the 300 voter registration records were processed before they were shredded.
“Normally, processing a voter registration application involves entering them in the state system, updating them, verifying their information,” she said. “That is the matter that’s under investigation — was that process completed.”
The announcement comes as the Fulton County elections office remains the subject of investigation by the state’s Republican-led legislature and fury from supporters of former president Donald Trump who claim, without evidence, that President Biden did not win the election in Georgia. The overwhelming Democratic majority in Fulton County helped swing Georgia in favor of Biden, making the November 2020 election the first time in nearly 30 years that the state backed a Democrat in a presidential election. Biden won nearly 73 percent of the vote in the county, more than 380,000 votes.
Even though the statewide vote has been counted three times without evidence of fraud, some Trump supporters are suing to conduct another review of the presidential vote in Fulton County.
The GOP-heavy state legislature in the spring approved legislation that gives it effective control of Georgia’s State Election Board, which has the power to investigate lawmakers’ complaints about local election bodies. Fulton County was one of the first targets of the legislature-controlled State Election Board and was selected in August for an investigation that could replace the elections board with a temporary superintendent who would oversee the county’s vote.
The move has been slammed by Democrats and voting rights advocates as an attempt by Republicans to take control of an elections board in a county seen as crucial to the outcome of future statewide elections.
“I don’t think there’s another state in the union that has a State Election Board with the power to turn a nonpartisan elections office into a partisan arm of the secretary of state’s office,” Barron told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution over the summer.
Fulton County’s history of election problems such as long lines and inefficiency in reporting election results is well documented. After the county’s June 2020 primary election, the State Election Board entered into a consent order with the county that included appointing an independent monitor for the general election.
Carter Jones, the state-appointed monitor at the time, said that sloppy practices and poor management were observed in the county but that he saw no evidence of “any dishonesty, fraud or intentional malfeasance.” One of Trump’s baseless claims about Fulton County — that Republican poll watchers were ejected and that video showed suitcases of ballots had been hidden under tables — has been repeatedly debunked.
Raffensperger, who won national praise for rejecting Trump’s request to help the president “find 11,780 votes” in Georgia, is facing what’s expected to be a difficult primary in the spring against Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) who has been endorsed by Trump. In an endorsement statement, Trump said Hice “will stop the Fraud and get honesty into our Elections!”
Fulton County emphasized Monday that “any resident who tries to vote in an upcoming election and is found not to be registered will be able to vote using a provisional ballot, and an investigation will follow.”
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