Fulton fires 2 elections workers accused of shredding 300 voter applications

A year ago this week: Voters finally got to the machines after a glitch forestalled voting on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. Eager Georgia voters swarmed to polling places Monday morning, waiting in lines created by high turnout and technical problems at the start of three weeks of early voting before Election Day. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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A year ago this week: Voters finally got to the machines after a glitch forestalled voting on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. Eager Georgia voters swarmed to polling places Monday morning, waiting in lines created by high turnout and technical problems at the start of three weeks of early voting before Election Day. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has called on the Justice Department to investigate.

The state is investigating accusations that Fulton County elections workers recently shredded about 300 voter registration applications.

The news came Monday, less than 24 hours before early voting is set to begin for municipal races in Fulton.

Elections head Richard Barron told reporters Monday that he fired two employees on Friday for allegedly shredding applications sometime within the last two weeks. Fellow employees reported the actions to their supervisor, and the two employees were fired that same day, Barron said.

The incident may have lower stakes than the 2020 races for the White House or the U.S. Senate, but it is still sure to raise the temperature on the partisan fight over the management of Fulton’s elections.

News of the firings was released by Fulton officials just minutes after Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger publicly called for the Justice Department to investigate the alleged shredding. In his announcement, Raffensperger said his agency was also looking into the allegations.

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Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts “immediately reported it to” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for investigation, according to the county press release.

“Elections are the most important function of our government,” Pitts said in the news release. “We have committed to transparency and integrity.”

Since a disastrous primary in June 2020, Fulton and Barron as its leader have been under heavy scrutiny. Republicans have been vocal and steadfast against Barron.

At the county level, Republicans unsuccessfully voted to fire Barron. At the state level, the GOP has begun an audit of Fulton that could lead to a takeover of the county’s elections. That is a new power given by Senate Bill 202, a bill passed by Georgia’s Republican-controlled General Assembly soon after the 2020 election cycle ended.

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Fulton spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said Raffensperger, a Republican, learned about the alleged shredding “when we notified [his office] and requested that they investigate the actions of these two employees.”

When asked by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution if the applications were recovered and if those affected were successfully registered to vote, Corbitt said: “Some of those details are still under review but any voter who questions should contact the Registration & Elections office.”

Barron said anyone who tries to vote and is found not to be registered may vote using a provisional ballot that will be subject to further review.

Raffensperger has for months demanded change in Fulton elections, including that the county get rid of Barron.

An initial review of this situation, Barron said, shows that the employees may have checked out batches of applications for processing. Instead of fully processing them, in some instances the employees allegedly shredded some of the forms.

Politicos quickly started commenting about the news online and, as will happen, some social media users jumped to unfounded conclusions.

Fulton has been the target of many baseless accusations of election and voter fraud fueled by a partisanship-at-all-costs drive.

However, it’s important to note that voter registration applications in Georgia do not ask someone to declare a political party affiliation.

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