“Additionally, there is no evidence that the Chatham County Board of Elections or the Chatham County Board of Registrars has failed to comply with the law,” his order said.
The hearing offered a window into the suspicions by some poll watchers amid tensions over the closest presidential election the state has seen in decades. Both of the GOP watchers acknowledged under oath that they had no evidence that the 53 ballots in question had come in after the deadline.
Trump attorney Jonathan Crumly, Sr. said the campaign monitors had observed the handling of the ballots in a way that concerned them, and that they didn’t receive enough assurances that the law was being applied.
“All the Trump campaign wants is every legal vote cast is counted or that no illegal votes or late received ballots are counted,” said Crumley, with Taylor English firm in Atlanta.
The Chatham Board of Registrars oversees voter registration, mails out ballots and receives them back from voters but does not have a role in counting. That part is overseen by the county’s elections board.
Sean Pumphrey, one of the GOP observers, testified seeing workers Wednesday in the registrars office working with mail crates of mail-in ballots to transfer to the election office’s warehouse for counting and processing. When he observed a woman enter from another room and bring a handful of mail-in absentee ballots that were not with the original mail crates and place them on a table, he notified his colleague what he had witnessed. When they re-entered the room, the ballots were no longer on the table, he said.
“My co-worker...confronted (the woman) and asked, ‘where are those ballots?’ ” Pumphrey testified. “ ‘Why are they late?’ ”
Colin McRae, chair of registrars board, testified that the office time-stamps ballots when they are returned. McRae, an attorney, testified that he reviewed each of the 53 ballots in question on Thursday morning before the hearing.
“The time stamps all showed that they were timely received,” McRae testified.
The 53 ballots had been initially separated from the others because they’d been flagged for some reason and required additional review by her staff, said Sabrina German, director of the registrars' office. She said sometimes ballots are flagged so her office can make sure a person hasn’t double voted. Ballots also may be flagged if they are spoiled or have had to be canceled for some reason.
“It’s for the protection of the voter as well as the office,” she said.
Once the 53 ballots were verified as valid they were sent with the others to be counted, she testified.
As of Thursday morning, Chatham had received 41 mail-in ballots that arrived after the deadline, McRae said. Each of those are sequestered and letters are sent to the voters notifying them ballots arrived too late. None were sent along for counting, he said.