A Georgia judge signaled Monday that he may unseal absentee ballots from Fulton County and allow a government watchdog group to investigate the ballots for signs of potential voter fraud.
The development comes more than four months after the 2020 election, which Georgia state officials have repeatedly said was not impacted by substantial voter fraud.
What is the background?
Garland Favorito, co-founder of election integrity firm VoterGA, filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court alleging that "fraudulent ballots were cast and other irregularities occurred as workers counted ballots at State Farm Arena on election night," the Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported.
The lawsuit seeks to inspect Fulton County absentee ballots for evidence of the alleged fraud.
More from the Constitution-Journal:
[Favorito] says county workers likely fabricated ballots and counted some ballots multiple times on election night. As evidence, his lawsuit cites video of the counting, as well as sworn statements from people who were present.
The observers were suspicious of ballots that were printed on a different stock of paper than regular ballots, appeared to have been printed instead of marked by ink in a voter's hand or were not creased, indicating they had not been placed in an absentee ballot envelope and mailed.
What did the judge say?
On Monday, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero, the judge overseeing the case, signaled he may grant a request by VoterGA to inspect the ballots.
"We want to do this in such a way that dispels rumors and disinformation and sheds light," Amero said, the Constitution-Journal reported. "The devil's in the details."
In fact, Amero appeared inclined to grant Favorito's request, provided his group concretely shows what steps they will take to ensure the security of the ballots, which currently remain under seal at the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk's Office.
"[Amero] requested a detailed plan, including who would review the ballots, how they would analyze them and how they would secure them," the Constitution-Journal reported. "The judge also discussed a protective order that would prohibit Favorito's experts from disclosing their work without permission from the court. And he plans to appoint a special master — perhaps a retired superior court judge — to oversee the analysis."
If approved, Favorito's group could begin analyzing ballots as soon as April.
What do state officials say?
Georgia state officials have said repeatedly they reviewed alleged evidence of voting irregularities or claims of voter fraud, finding such allegations to be unsubstantiated and unfounded.
"We've never found systemic fraud, not enough to overturn the election," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said in December. "We have over 250 cases right now ... but right now we don't see anything that would overturn, you know, the will of the people here in Georgia."