Backlash follows after firing of Fulton poll workers who spoke out

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Elected state officials at all levels have chastised the Fulton County elections department for not . rehiring two poll workers who publicly criticized how the majority-Democrat county ran the presidential election. State Sen. Greg Dolezal, a Republican from Cumming, said Fulton not rehiring Suzi Voyles and Bridget Thorne for the Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoff was unacceptable. When asked for comment, a Fulton spokeswoman said that the county “employs thousands of workers to perform elections work. Election workers are temporary. at-will workers and may be dismissed for violations of policies and procedures”. The spokeswoman added that the women were under review for infractions, including: a violation for using cell phones to photograph elections activities, . inappropriately showing ballots to a poll monitor and “making misrepresentations to the public on YouTube about problems with the elections that were false and misleading”. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Friday condemned the “political firing” of the two “whistleblowers” and called on the county to rehire Thorne and Voyles

Elected state officials at all levels have chastised the Fulton County elections department for not rehiring two poll workers who publicly criticized how the majority-Democrat county ran the presidential election.

The three Republican members of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, which has budgeted more than $35 million to elections this year, released a joint statement Monday asking that the county’s elections board “investigate the actions of Director Richard Barron and his staff that were involved in these decisions and to take action as appropriate.”

Despite the mounting pressure, Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections didn’t even discuss the issue during the public portion of its special-called meeting Tuesday. The board also met in closed-door executive session for 80 minutes.

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Fulton Commissioner Bob Ellis last week warned the county elections head Richard Barron that he and his staff should not retaliate against the women. “I was simply making a point about behavior I did not expect to occur, well, obviously it has occurred,” Ellis said Thursday.

State Sen. Greg Dolezal, a Republican from Cumming, said Fulton not rehiring Suzi Voyles and Bridget Thorne for the Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoff was unacceptable. He tweeted a copy of Voyles’ letter from the county.

When asked for comment, a Fulton spokeswoman said that the county “employs thousands of workers to perform elections work. Election workers are temporary, at-will workers and may be dismissed for violations of policies and procedures.”

The spokeswoman added that the women were under review for infractions, including: a violation for using cell phones to photograph elections activities, inappropriately showing ballots to a poll monitor and “making misrepresentations to the public on YouTube about problems with the elections that were false and misleading.”

The spokeswoman did not respond when the AJC asked for the number of poll workers who were not re-hired for the January election.

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Both Thorne and Voyles spoke during a hearing of the state Senate Judiciary subcommittee that was attended by an attorney of President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani. Trump has contested the results of the election in Georgia and elsewhere.

Each woman signed separate affidavits in the lawsuit filed by Atlanta attorney L. Lin Wood, who is claiming in federal court that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the State Election Board created an improper absentee ballot signature system. The case has been rejected multiple times, but Wood last week tried to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Raffensperger, a Republican Trump supporter, has been firm against what he has called baseless claims against the integrity of the election. Raffensperger on Friday condemned the “political firing” of the two “whistleblowers” and called on the county to rehire Thorne and Voyles.

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“Though we have found no credible evidence of widespread fraud, it is important that individuals can raise their voice when they believe they have seen wrongdoing,” Raffensperger wrote. “Retribution against whistleblowers poses a threat to the continued strength and vibrancy of our democracy.”

Thorne, who was certified as a technician to help Dominion Voting Systems, tested and calibrated voting machines. Part of that job was printing realistic ballots. She claimed Dominion employees handled those ballots in a “haphazard and careless way.”

“I am personally aware that some batches of test ballots were lost during the process and I was required to reprint entire polling districts test ballots a second time,” she wrote in her affidavit.

Voyles was one of Georgia’s delegates to the 2020 Republican National Convention, she serves as state chairwoman for Maggie’s List (a group that encourages Conservative women to run for Congress) and is a member of Women for Trump. She also appeared on the Fox News “Hannity” program earlier this month to discuss her alleged elections irregularities.

A poll worker for more than two decades, Voyles wrote in her affidavit that she was asked if she would participate in the recount for $200 a day starting Nov. 14. She wrote that “everything was in total disarray at the counting location.”

She said that one batch of “absentee-style” ballots was “pristine” and didn’t appeared to have been folded or handled like she would have expected from her 20 years of working elections. In that batch of about 110 ballots, basically all appeared to have been copies and were votes for former Vice President Joe Biden, she claimed. Two were for Trump.

Some 70 Fulton County Registration & Election Board workers handled some 20,000 absentee ballots on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
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Some 70 Fulton County Registration & Election Board workers handled some 20,000 absentee ballots on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

“They were identical, and that’s what drew my attention to it,” she said during the Hannity program. She added: “We were amazed at the count. Every one that was in the entire batch was for Biden, overwhelmingly.”

When she said the same during a state House Governmental Affairs committee meeting on Dec. 10, State Rep. Bee Nguyen, a Democrat from Atlanta, questioned Voyles.

The votes were from Quality Living Service, which is non-profit that offers housing for those over age 50 in southern Fulton.

Nguyen said that demographics show that an overwhelming Biden vote isn’t suspicious in that part of the county. Voyles, who lives in Sandy Springs, said she hasn’t visited the facility but intended to do so.

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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows made a surprise visit Tuesday to observe Georgia’s . audit of absentee ballot envelope signatures and ask questions about the process. Meadows, accompanied by Secret Service agents, showed up at the Cobb County Civic Center, . where investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and secretary of state’s office were reviewing absentee ballot envelopes to check whether voter signatures match those on file. He met with Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs in a hallway to inquire about the signature audit and what it would find. He wasn’t permitted inside the room where investigators were examining ballot envelopes. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said the signature audit will restore confidence in Georgia’s elections and further dispel unsubstantiated fraud claims. The audit, scheduled to be completed by next week, won’t change the outcome of Georgia’s election, . which Democrat Joe Biden won by about 12,000 votes over Republican President Donald Trump