By Paul Sperry, Real Clear Investigations
When Fulton County, Georgia, poll manager Suzi Voyles sorted through a large stack of mail-in ballots last November, she noticed an alarmingly odd pattern of uniformity in the markings for Joseph R. Biden. One after another, the absentee votes contained perfectly filled-in ovals for Biden—except that each of the darkened bubbles featured an identical white void inside them in the shape of a tiny crescent, indicating they’d been marked with toner ink instead of a pen or pencil.
Adding to suspicions, she noticed that all of the ballots were printed on different stock paper than the others she handled as part of a statewide hand recount of the razor-thin Nov. 3 presidential election. And none was folded or creased, as she typically observed in mail-in ballots that had been removed from envelopes.
In short, the Biden votes looked like they’d been duplicated by a copying machine.
“All of them were strangely pristine,” said Voyles, who said she’d never seen anything like it in her 20 years monitoring elections in Fulton County, which includes much of Atlanta.
She wasn’t alone. At least three other poll workers observed the same thing in stacks of absentee ballots for Biden processed by the county, and they have joined Voyles in swearing under penalty of perjury that they looked fake.
Now election watchdogs have used their affidavits to help convince a state judge to unseal all of the 147,000 mail-in ballots counted in Fulton and allow a closer inspection of the suspicious Biden ballots for evidence of counterfeiting. They argue that potentially tens of thousands may have been manufactured in a race that Biden won by just 12,000 votes thanks to a late surge of mail-in ballots counted after election monitors were shooed from State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
“We have what is almost surely major absentee-ballot fraud in Fulton County involving 10,000 to 20,000 probably false ballots,” said Garland Favorito, the lead petitioner in the case and a certified poll watcher who runs VoterGa.org, one of the leading advocates for election integrity in the state.
He said the suspect ballots remain in the custody of the election officials and inaccessible from public view.
“We have confirmed that there are five pallets of shrink-wrapped ballots in a county warehouse,” Favorito said in an interview with RealClearInvestigations.
He and other petitioners were ordered to meet at the warehouse May 28 to settle the terms of the inspection of the absentee ballots. But the day before the scheduled meeting, the county filed a flurry of motions to dismiss the case, delaying the inspection indefinitely.
“We will be in court on June 21 to resolve these motions,” said Favorito, calling them another “roadblock” the county has tried to throw in their way. He expects talks over the logistics of the inspection to resume after the Fourth of July holiday.
As part of his May 21 order, Superior Court Judge Brian Amero requested officials guard the warehouse around the clock until an inspection date can be set. But just eight days later, a breach in security was reported after sheriff’s deputies left their post for a couple of hours.
“The front door was [found] unlocked and wide open in violation of the court order,” Favorito said.
County officials confirmed that a motion-detection alarm was triggered Saturday, May 29, shortly after the deputies drove away from the building in their patrol cars around 4 p.m. But they said a locked room where the ballots are kept “was never breached or compromised.”
Favorito is not convinced, and his lawyer is seeking to obtain the video footage from building security cameras. “How do we know for certain there was no tampering with the ballots?” asked Favorito, who said he did not vote for Trump.
News of the security lapse caught the attention of former President Donald Trump, who has claimed his loss to Biden was marred by fraud. In a statement, he implied election officials in the Democratic-controlled county are trying to hide evidence of fraud. “They are afraid of what might be found,” he asserted.
Trump is also closely monitoring the ongoing election audit in Arizona, another red state that turned blue in 2020. If evidence of fraud is found in these key swing states, it might help confirm suspicions the election was “stolen” from Trump and the 74 million who voted for him—as a recent poll found 61 percent of Republicans believe—as well as provide the proof of voter fraud that Democrats and major media have long claimed doesn’t exist.
The cases could potentially give other battleground states incentive to take steps to tighten election security and root out fraud, including passing legislation to limit the use of controversial mail-in drop boxes and require the verification of signatures on such ballots. In Georgia, relatively few mail-in ballots were rejected for invalid signatures in the November general election, even though several thousand had been disqualified for signature issues in the primary election.
In a move that inspired national boycotts alleging voter “suppression,” Georgia recently passed a law limiting, but not removing, the drop boxes. The state had installed them for the first time in 2020 under pressure from Democratic groups, who argued officials needed to make voting easier for minorities who didn’t trust the mail and feared going to the polls during the COVID scare.
The 38 drop boxes Fulton distributed throughout the county in the November election will be cut to eight in the future. The boxes had been largely unregulated and unattended—located outdoors, open 24 hours a day and available for drop-offs until the evening of Election Day, prompting complaints of ballot stuffing and double voting. But now they have to be located inside election offices or early voting locations, and can only be available during the hours when early voting is permitted. The new law also requires ballots be printed on special security paper.
Voting by mail traditionally was limited to voters who had clearly defined and well-documented reasons to be absent from the polls. But Democrats in key swing states lobbied to relax the rules in the middle of the election and amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mail-in or drop-off ballots create opportunities for voter error and fraud. In a typical election, one in 20 mailed ballots are rejected, according to recent studies. More than 534,000 mail-in ballots were rejected during the 2020 Democratic primaries alone.
Still, both Republican and Democratic officials in Georgia say they have found no credible evidence of widespread fraud in the general election. Democrats, as well as many major media outlets, have written off Favorito’s group’s allegations of fraud as “conspiracy theories.”
“This is nothing more than a circus that’s being put on by those who promote the ‘big lie’” that Trump won the election, said Robb Pitts, the Democratic chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. “Where does it end? The votes have been counted. The elections have been certified. It’s over.”
Pitts effectively controls the county elections board through his Democratic appointee Mary Carole Cooney, who runs the board. They are in charge of securing the pallets of disputed Biden mail-in ballots awaiting inspection in the county warehouse.
But Judge Amero, who federal elections records show is a Democratic donor, felt compelled to unseal the ballots for a forensics review after reading the sworn affidavits submitted by election monitors. Here are key witnesses in the case:
- Suzi Voyles, a veteran Fulton poll manager who audited the Nov. 14 recount at Georgia World Congress Center, testified she examined several stacks of ballots of about 100 ballots each from a cardboard box marked “Box No. 5—Absentee—Batch Numbers 28-36.” She said these ballots “came from the ballot [drop] boxes that had been placed throughout Fulton County.”
“Most of the ballots had already been handled; they had been written on by people, and the edges were worn. They showed obvious use,” she wrote in her Nov. 17 affidavit. “However, one batch stood out. It was pristine. There was a difference in the texture of the paper,” and these mail-in ballots hadn’t been folded even though they ostensibly had been removed from envelopes.
All but three of the 110 ballots in the bundle—which had been labeled “State Farm Arena”—were marked for Biden and appeared to be “identical ballots.”
The most “alarming peculiarity” was the identically marked ovals next to Biden’s name. In every ballot, “The bubble next to ‘Joseph R. Biden’ had a slight white eclipse in the bubble,” she said, leading her to believe that the batch of 107 Biden ballots had been “copied” from a single ballot.
Voyles speculated that “additional absentee ballots had been added [for Biden] in a fraudulent manner” at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta on election night.
The void she and other auditors witnessed in the exact same spot of the oval filled in on 107 ballots for Biden “was alarming to us,” Voyles said in an RCI interview. “Every single bubble was precisely alike. I had never seen that before in 20 years” of election monitoring.
But when she and other recount workers raised concerns with county election officials, “we were told not to worry about it,” she said. “They seemed uninterested in the [integrity of the] ballots.”
After Voyles later blew the whistle in affidavits and state election hearings, she was fired as a poll manager by the Fulton County Department of Elections. “I got the boot for speaking the truth,” she told RCI.
- Robin Hall, a certified Fulton County recount observer, also testified she witnessed a number of boxes of absentee ballots marked “100 percent for Biden” that appeared to be “perfectly filled out as if they were pre-printed with the presidential candidate selected.” She stated: “They did not look like a person had filled this out at home. All of them looked alike.”
- Judy Aube also worked at the World Congress Center on Nov. 14 where she observed the same thing: “suspicious batches” of mail-in ballots for Biden whose markings appeared identical, as if they had been duplicated by a machine and not filled out by a voter at home.
- Barbara Hartman, another election official auditor, also doubted the authenticity of absentee ballots she handled that she said were never folded, as would normally be the case for ballots returned in an envelope by mail or dropped in a box. “The absentee ballots looked as though they had just come from a fresh stack,” she swore in her affidavit. “I could not observe any creases in the ballots and [it] did not seem like they were folded and put into envelopes or mailed out.” Also, “The majority of the mail-in ballots that I reviewed contained suspicious black perfectly bubbled markings for Biden,” Hartman stated, adding that “they looked as if they were stamped.”
The veteran poll watchers found no plausible explanation for the anomalies other than possible fraud.
However, election officials have offered an explanation for why the mail-in ballots examined in the stacks did not have folds or creases. They say ballots are sometimes copied onto other paper when they are too damaged to be fed through one of the scanning machines during tabulation. The mailed ballots can be torn or crumpled by postal workers during delivery or by poll workers while opening them and removing them from envelopes, which could prevent the machines from reading them.
But Favorito suspects the hundreds, if not thousands, of allegedly duplicate absentee ballots for Biden might be connected to spikes in votes for Biden he observed late on election night in Fulton County after election officials cleared monitors from State Farm Arena and pulled cases full of ballots out from under tables and began scanning them.
“There’s always the chance it was an inside job,” said Favorito, a career IT professional who’s been a leading advocate for Georgia election integrity over the past two decades.
On Nov. 3, Fulton County elections officials informed monitors that they were shutting down the State Farm tabulation center before midnight, only to continue counting throughout the night while no one was watching.
“Election workers don’t bring ballots in after the supervisor has delayed processing until the morning, hide them under a table, and then bring them out for scanning and tabulation after the supervisor tells [monitors] they are done scanning for the evening and they go home,” Favorito said.
“Once scanning [was] completed, an election line feed showed an unprecedented vote spike that turned the election in favor of Biden,” he added. In fact, “just over a half hour after workers scanned the potentially fraudulent ballots, an election line feed showed a 100,000-plus vote spike for Biden.”
“Where did those ballots come from and why did they handle them so suspiciously?” Favorito asked.
Voyles noted that the county elections supervisor who oversaw the secret scanning of the cases full of ballots also helps run the warehouse where the suspect ballots are being stored.
Phone calls and emails to Fulton County went unanswered.
Similar Anomalies, Other Counties
Favorito pointed out that the potential for counterfeit ballots exists in other Georgia counties, not just Fulton.
In fact, two Democrat poll workers blew the whistle on similar anomalies they witnessed in neighboring DeKalb and Cobb counties, where the election process also is controlled by Democrats.
Carlos E. Silva, for one, declared in a Nov. 17 affidavit that he observed a similar “perfect black bubble” in absentee ballots for Biden during the recount he worked in DeKalb County. And while overseeing the Cobb County recount, he swore he “observed absentee ballots being reviewed with the same perfect bubble that I had seen the night before in DeKalb. All of these ballots had the same characteristics: they were all for Biden and had the same perfect bubble.”
Added Silva, a registered Democrat, “There were thousands of [mail-in] ballots that just had the perfect bubble marked for Biden and no other markings in the rest of the ballot.”
Another registered Democrat, Mayra Romera, testified that while monitoring the Cobb County recount, she noticed that “hundreds of these ballots seemed impeccable, with no folds or creases. The bubble selections were perfectly made … and all happened to be selections for Biden.”
In a recent article pooh-poohing complaints of fraud in Georgia, as well as Arizona, The New York Times portrayed Favorito as “a known conspiracy theorist” and suggested he was a 9/11 truther. As evidence, it cited a 2002 book he published “questioning the origin of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”
Asked about it, Favorito responded: “My book did not propose any theories on what happened on 9/11. I don’t mention anything about explosives” planted in the World Trade Center, as truthers have speculated. Rather, he said, he questioned Bush family business connections with the bin Laden family and other wealthy Saudis, and argued that the war on terror benefited the Bushes. He also faulted the Bush administration for “obstructing” FBI investigations into the attacks.
Favorito says he is a “constitutionalist” and neither a Republican nor a Trump supporter.
This article was written by Paul Sperry for RealClearInvestigations