Fulton pauses counting final ballots due to security concerns

January 6, 2021 Atlanta: Election count observers are toured through the work area as Fulton County resumed counting ballots at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 an hour later than election officials had planned. Fulton elections director Richard Barron told county commissioners Wednesday morning there are 7,500 absentee ballots left to be uploaded. Fulton spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said there are 2,700 left to be processed at Georgia World Congress Center. Mail-in ballots take more time to count because they are more complicated to tabulate. There are a variety of reasons, including an adjudication process that allows ballots with stray markings or other irregularities to be reviewed by poll watchers from each party. The adjudication process for those remaining ballots will begin today at 3 p.m. That means Fulton’s ballots won’t be uploaded until after 3 p.m., Barron said. The process will occur at the county’s English Street warehouse, which is where votes are actually uploaded once they’ve been adjudicated. “We have been unfairly, and I’ll state that unequivocally, unfairly criticized by any number of people,” Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said during a virtual press conference, “no justification whatsoever.” State election officials said voting generally went smoothly Tuesday, with short lines and average wait times of about 1 minute. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)
January 6, 2021 Atlanta: Election count observers are toured through the work area as Fulton County resumed counting ballots at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 an hour later than election officials had planned. Fulton elections director Richard Barron told county commissioners Wednesday morning there are 7,500 absentee ballots left to be uploaded. Fulton spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said there are 2,700 left to be processed at Georgia World Congress Center. Mail-in ballots take more time to count because they are more complicated to tabulate. There are a variety of reasons, including an adjudication process that allows ballots with stray markings or other irregularities to be reviewed by poll watchers from each party. The adjudication process for those remaining ballots will begin today at 3 p.m. That means Fulton’s ballots won’t be uploaded until after 3 p.m., Barron said. The process will occur at the county’s English Street warehouse, which is where votes are actually uploaded once they’ve been adjudicated. “We have been unfairly, and I’ll state that unequivocally, unfairly criticized by any number of people,” Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said during a virtual press conference, “no justification whatsoever.” State election officials said voting generally went smoothly Tuesday, with short lines and average wait times of about 1 minute. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Fulton County’s adjudication process – and also a final tally of votes – has been postponed due to safety concerns, Fulton spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said Wednesday afternoon.

“We have a strong basis for concern based on security threats over recent weeks as well as awareness that there are people, including the President himself, who have singled out Fulton County as a cause for the outcome of the Presidential election,” Corbitt said.

Among the concerns is a call in which Trump tried to convince Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn the statewide election results. Fulton — home to a tenth of all Georgians — was mentioned by name 16 times during the Saturday call. County officials have rebuked the insinuations.

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Corbitt said Fulton has received bomb threats and “endless comments” on social media alleging they committed fraud – which has been disproven.

The Fulton office is two blocks away from the state Capitol, where Raffensperger was escorted from today amid security concerns. Trump supporters tried to enter the to Gold Dome to deliver written grievances over the Nov. 3 election.

All Fulton County employees downtown were told to leave their offices because of unrest, and same went for the elections warehouse even though it is near Blandtown.

Monisha Brown, spokeswoman for the newly elected Sheriff Patrick Labat, said the agency has a building next to the elections warehouse. She said deputies are using the general location as a staging area should they need to respond to agitators.

Corbitt said she did not have a date or time of when the adjudication process would resume. This process is required for Fulton to submit its final ballots, which total less than 10,000.

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Fulton County finished counting nearly all of its ballots on Tuesday but resumed at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday with 7,500 absentee ballots to process.

The county had planned to adjudicate ballots at 3 p.m. Mail-in ballots take more time to count because they are more complicated to tabulate. There are a variety of reasons, including an adjudication process that allows ballots with stray markings or other irregularities to be reviewed by poll watchers from each party.

Fulton elections head Richard Barron said Wednesday morning that the number of provisional ballots was unknown. Provisional ballots have until 5 p.m. Friday to be cured, which is also the deadline to accept overseas/military ballots.

ExploreGeorgia counties push on in second day of vote counting

Images from violence in D.C as protestors and supporters of President Donald Trump and his false election fraud claims storm the Capitol in protest of the Electoral College certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

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