The Worm Has Turned in Fulton County, Georgia
Garland Favorito is winning
Garland Favorito is a mild-mannered senior citizen living in Georgia, but don’t be deceived. He has been an election integrity warrior for years and has a forty-year background in information technology. With regard to the 2020 election in Fulton County, Georgia, his relentless efforts to gain transparency may soon be rewarded.
In November 2020, Favorito served as a Fulton County tabulation observer. One morning he noticed that Joe Biden’s votes suddenly increased by about 20,000, while Donald Trump’s decreased by about 1,000. He could not understand why any candidate’s vote total would decrease, so he made an Open Records request with the Fulton County Election Board, asking for relevant documents.
When Favorito received no response, he and several others filed a Petition for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, asserting that Fulton County had, among other things, violated equal protection laws through the uneven administration of election law. The petitioners sought a court order granting them the right to inspect and scan paper mail-in ballots from the 2020 Fulton County election.
Favorito’s civil action included allegations of other ballot-related improprieties, and these were supported with numerous witness affidavits (Petition, Exhibits C through H):
- Susan Voyles, an employee of Fulton County and an election poll manager, swore she observed many irregularities including pristine ballots in an unsealed and unmarked box.
- Robin Hall, a hand count monitor, saw 3 boxes containing 100 percent Biden ballots.
- Hand count monitor, Judy Aube, saw 3 boxes with 98 percent of the ballots cast for Biden.
- Election auditor Barbara Hartman and poll watchers Gordon Rolle and Sonia Francis-Rolle each noticed ballots that had no creases, as if they were never in the required mailing envelopes.
- Gordon Rolle and Sonia Francis-Rolle also noticed paper that was different than that used for normal ballots, and ballots that appeared to be printed with toner.
By March 15, 2021, Favorito seemed to be making legal headway. Henry County Judge Brian Amero conditionally granted Favorito et al. the right to unseal and inspect ballots from the 2020 election. It was rumored (but not confirmed to my knowledge) that the Fulton County Election Board hired a top criminal defense attorney. Then the audit train got derailed by Secretary of State Raffensperger.
Raffensperger’s first brief
In April 2021, Raffensperger filed an Amicus Brief, arguing to Judge Amero that it is illegal to give the public access to paper ballots. He added that “[t]he Elections Code is furthermore clear that it is only authorized elections officials who are legally permitted to verify and tabulate ballots in an election.” The Secretary had Fulton County produce standard scanned ballot images for the Petitioners in lieu of the paper ballots.
A hearing was held on May 21, 2021, to determine if the scanned images produced by Fulton County were adequate as substitutes for access to the actual ballots. At that meeting, testimony was heard from David Sawyer (cv357748 as Exh. 7), a forensic accountant and former partner with the huge audit firm Ernst & Young. He analyzed the Fulton County images and noticed “sequence breaks” in those images of ballots, suggesting that several ballots were missing. And there was evidence that some ballots had been scanned twice. This forensic accountant testified that a physical examination of the paper ballots and envelopes was essential.
Despite Sawyer’s testimony, Judge Amero did not agree to give the Favorito plaintiffs access to the paper absentee ballots; however, he agreed to unseal them so they could be scanned at higher resolution by County officials for use by the plaintiffs. The details of this compromise would be worked out in a future order— probably in the month of October. However, that order was never issued because Secretary Raffensperger scuttled the arrangement with a second communication to the Court.
Raffensperger’s second brief
In his second brief, the Secretary asserted that Susan Voyles and the other witnesses were mistaken because Raffensperger’s employees (without any witnesses) checked the box with the particular number identified by Susan Voyles (Box 5/Batches 28–36), and inside they found no suspicious ballots. (See Brief dated 10-12-21.) These very diligent government workers even checked TWO other boxes (out of several hundred boxes) but still found no ballots that they considered “pristine” or otherwise suspicious. No doubt, they would have examined one or two more boxes if they had an additional ten or eleven months to conduct their investigation.
Of course, nothing was proven by this very small and very private investigation, performed by Raffensperger’s own people in the sole presence of they, them, and themselves. It was a “self-investigation” performed by acolytes of a man who would likely lose his job if significant fraud were found. And the same goes for the Fulton County workers who participated in the investigation: It was strongly in their interest to find nothing.
Nevertheless, the Secretary’s “Hail Mary” seemed to influence the judge. The next day, Judge Amero decided that Favorito did not have the legal standing that the judge thought he had just a few months earlier. Case dismissed! (See Appeal, Exhibit A.)
At that point, Secretary Raffensperger was back in charge, and Garland Favorito faced even more difficulties. He took the case to the Court of Appeals of Georgia, but that court also declared that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they failed “to allege a particularized injury” (i.e., one that applied to them as opposed to other Georgians). However, six months later, there was a major reversal in this case.
In a precedent-setting ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court stated that Favorito did, indeed, have standing to pursue the case against Fulton County because the “…injury need not always be individualized; sometimes it can be a generalized grievance shared by community members, especially other residents, taxpayers, voters, or citizens.” On December 20, 2022, the high court vacated the judgment of the Appeals Court and remanded the case for reconsideration.
The next stop in this lawsuit will likely be the trial court of Judge Brian Amero, where a favorable decision is expected. Garland Favorito will probably gain the right to inspect some high-resolution ballot images. And, given the recent findings of the cyber guys who work at Favorito’s nonprofit organization (VoterGA.org), the results may be very interesting.
After intensely studying the low-resolution imagery already available to them, VoterGA.org found 15 categories of irregularities that make over 500,000 Georgia ballots questionable or even impossible (VoterGA.org video @27:00). Here are just three of those categories:
- It takes about a full second to scan a ballot, yet 4 thousand scanned images have precisely the same timestamp (an impossibility).
- The .sha file for an image is the identifying file, and it lets us know that the image was not made in someone’s basement. The .sha file is produced simultaneously with the image file, yet 16,000 .sha files in Fulton County were time-stamped days after the date of the ballot image files (another impossibility).
- Another 132,000 image files have no .sha files. (In other words, the origin of the images is unknown.)
Unfortunately, it has taken such a herculean effort on the part of Garland Favorito and others to get this far. Still, there is finally light around the corner— unless Brad Raffensperger has one more amicus brief to file!
Joe Fried is an Ohio-based CPA who has performed and reviewed hundreds of certified financial audits. He is the author of the new book, Debunked? An auditor reviews the 2020 election— and the lessons learned (Republic Book Publishers, 2022). It provides a comprehensive overview of irregularities that affected the 2020 election.