Georgia Subpoenas Conservative Group Over Ballot Harvesting Allegations

Why would a group that claims it has evidence of ballot harvesting refuse to turn it over?

SANDY SPRINGS, GA – MARCH 06: “I’m a Georgia Voter” stickers are seen at a polling station in St Andrew Presbyterian Church March 6, 2012 in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Ten states, including Georgia, hold caucuses and primaries today for voters to pick their choices for the Republican presidential nominee. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In early January of this year, I posted about how Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger opened a new investigation into accusations of “ballot harvesting” in the 2020 Presidential election. Ballot harvesting is a term that’s used to refer to a wide range of behavior ranging from ballot box stuffing to having a third party collect and return completed absentee ballots. The allegation was brought forward by a Texas-based conservative activist group True the Vote. True the Vote has raised similar allegations in Wisconsin. There’s only one issue, to date they have yet to share detailed evidence of their claims in either state.

Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Georgia State Elections Board has taken action to rectify that situation.

The State Election Board has issued subpoenas to find out whether there’s substance behind accusations of a ballot collection scheme in the 2020 election in Georgia.

The subpoenas, sent Thursday, seek evidence of allegations that unnamed organizations paid unnamed individuals $10 per absentee ballot delivered to drop boxes across metro Atlanta. …

The subpoenas followed a Nov. 30 complaint by True the Vote, a conservative election organization, which didn’t provide details supporting its allegations. The State Election Board voted last month to issue the subpoenas.

“They need to provide us the names of those people that they say harvested the ballots. We’re going to find out who they are and where they live, were they paid, and how much were they paid,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Saturday during a debate in Ellijay.

The subpoenas compel True the Vote to turn over documents, recordings and names allegedly connected to ballot harvesting. The subpoenas also require depositions of True the Vote founder Catherine Englebrecht and her colleague Gregg Phillips.

https://www.ajc.com/politics/subpoenas-seek-evidence-of-georgia-ballot-collection/CODHKLIXPFGGRMVWCVKHHZTKQA/

Other reporting on the topic, done by WSB-TV 2 in Atlanta, provides a bit more information about True The Vote’s evidence and their plans to comply with the subpoenas.

[Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne] also obtained a copy of a letter from GBI Director Vic Reynolds dated September 2021 in which he indicated that they had identified “279 cellphones which had made multiple trips to within 100 feet of a voter drop box. Other spreadsheets and documents provided tie these cell phones through geolocation to various organizations.”

The letter goes on to say that there is a “source” that can validate ballot harvesting. “Despite repeated requests that source has not been provided to either the GBI or to the FBI,” the letter continued. …

Catherine Englebrecht said she does not anticipate revealing their source, but that everything the state needs is in data and video her group is prepared to provide.

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/ga-elections-officials-subpoenaing-texas-group-claiming-they-have-evidence-ballot-harvesting/QNFBWOYS7VB6JCHLTYH3JNYYKI/

The fact that True The Vote’s founder doesn’t want to reveal the source of their information is, as the kids today say, “sus” to say the least. Especially given the severity of the charge and the fact that it appears that most of their evidence, based on cell phone triangulation, is circumstantial at best and needs to be corroborated by actual witnesses to the ballot harvesting who can prove the $10 a ballot claim.

More importantly, security experts have called into question the reliability of cellphone evidence that True the Vote is basing their Georgia and Michigan accusations on. Georgia Public Broadcasting details why:

Cellphone location can be used to approximate behavior, such as in an investigation that GPB News and the Center for Public Integrity conducted earlier this year that estimated wait times at early voting sites. But that data was anonymized, controls were put in place to remove incomplete or outlying data, and findings were corroborated by multiple sources and other details.

There are also multiple reasons cellphones could be found near multiple drop boxes during a several-month period. Many drop boxes were in public places like libraries and government buildings. Other people such as monitors from advocacy groups, reporters covering early voting, delivery drivers and more could have valid reasons for stopping near multiple drop boxes. Plus, election workers collecting the ballots daily out of the drop boxes also visit multiple locations.

The vague allegations from True the Vote do not explain the group’s methodology further.

https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/10/22/gbi-says-gops-cellphone-data-lacks-enough-evidence-prove-ballot-harvesting

Similar objections to the data have been raised in Wisconsin as well.

Time will reveal if True the Vote complies with the subpoenas. Despite the ongoing drumbeat of allegations by Republicans, the facts still remain that there has yet to be any proven widespread voter fraud in the 2020 elections. And, even if ballot harvesting is proven in Georgia, it doesn’t invalidate the votes as Secretary of State Raffensperger has repeatedly stated that while harvesting is illegal all of the absentee ballots were, themselves, valid votes and were checked for tampering (the issue was in the transportation).

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Matt Bernius
About Matt Bernius
Matt Bernius is a design researcher working to create more equitable government systems and experiences. He's currently a Principal User Researcher on Code for America's "GetCalFresh" program, helping people apply for SNAP food benefits in California. Prior to joining CfA, he worked at Measures for Justice and at Effective, a UX agency. Matt has an MA from the University of Chicago.

Comments

  1. Kurtz says:

    The voter ‘integrity’ organizations and individuals exist less to find fraud than to create the perception of fraud.

    Why? Because establishing and maintaining a cause for belief is easier than actually finding something. And decades of lighting fires then pointing at the smoke billowing into the sky is enough to fire up the common sense crowd.

    The GOP is little more than a collection of arsonists at this point.

    11
  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Why would a group that claims it has evidence of ballot harvesting refuse to turn it over?

    Why have Republicans refused to provide evidence that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen?

    8
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    they had identified “279 cellphones which had made multiple trips to within 100 feet of a voter drop box. Other spreadsheets and documents provided tie these cell phones through geolocation to various organizations.”

    and

    There are also multiple reasons cellphones could be found near multiple drop boxes during a several-month period.

    Say what??? Why I never would have guessed!

    In the town of Potosi, MO, there must have been thousands upon thousands of cell phone pings from people repeatedly passing with in 100 feet of the county court house. Some not insignificant number of those cell phones would have belonged to political actors who, get this, would have been there for legitimate election business. Who’da thunk it?

    4
  4. Scott says:

    What bugs me the most is in this fraudulent campaign about fraud is the constant merging of conspiratorial or institutional election fraud (non-existent) and individual voter fraud (a few cases). The merger of those two in the same breath is fully dishonest. I expect the fraudsters to continue to do that but the reporters and media need to separate the two.

    3
  5. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    They keep screaming they have overwhelming evidence of fraud, but the courts refuse to hear it.

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    Many drop boxes were in public places like libraries and government buildings.

    There was a ballot drop box on the west side of the Jackson County (IL) Courthouse for the November 2020 election. It was situated on the sidewalk so citizens could either walk up to it from one side or drive up to it from the street side. If I was lucky I would get a parking place just one space south of the ballot drop box when I would deliver the weekly Murphysboro Times to the Courthouse. Since at that time cellphones were not allowed in the courthouse* I always left my phone in the car just a few feet away from the ballot drop box. It should be noted that this was right across the street from The Apple City Administration Building where people would pay their water bills at the drive up window and then drive right past the ballot drop box.

    *For years there was a HUGE sign at the Courthouse entrance warning that cellphones were not allowed in the building unless you were an attorney or an employee. Cell phone lockers were provided to store your phone till you exited the building. About a month ago the sign was noticeably gone. When I asked one of the deputies about this he said that the Supreme Court ruled that people had a right to their cellphones. Now phones must be turned off and it is a punishable offense if they are left on and ring inside the courthouse.
    I did not think to ask if it was the Illinois Supreme Court or the US Supreme Court and I have not taken the time to check it out.

    2
  7. gVOR08 says:

    The drop box I use is in front of the Board of Elections office in a strip mall. I suspect both they and some of the other businesses have repeat customers, and employees.

    This “evidence” is pathetic almost beyond belief. But they can only keep claiming there’s ballot harvesting as long as they don’t show the evidence. Oh, who am I kidding? Even if the state proves this is all bogus, they’ll still keep claiming there was ballot harvesting. And GOP voters will keep believing it.

    2
  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    I feel badly about this. It was my voter registration campaign that brought True the Vote into existence, and it was my defamation suit (for accusing me of being the Houston Chapter leader of the New Black Panthers ) that tried to take them out of existence. Got a decent amount of money, but True the Vote still lives on. Alas.

    Time will reveal if True the Vote complies with the subpoenas.

    Spoiler alert: they won’t comply.

    3
  9. Matt Bernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I meant to give you a shout-out in this article. I had forgotten about your connection until I was reviewing the comments on the previous article.

  10. Kurtz says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Well, you obviously look the part of a Black Panther.

    Out of curiosity, did Forrest Gump have a fight in the middle of one of your parties?

    2
  11. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Ugh, I forgot I had commented earlier, and brought nothing new to this conversation. Like Michael talking about escaping robbery charges, or Kathy talking about airlines, there are certain topics I can’t resist chiming in and retelling a tired old story.*

    Maybe post something about Project Veritas next time and I can share how two of Houston Vote’s canvassers took my comment of “I wish someone would get these guys off our backs” a little too literally.

    *ETA: My story is old and tired. Michael and Kathy are almost always interesting.

    7
  12. Jen says:

    “279 cellphones which had made multiple trips to within 100 feet of a voter drop box. Other spreadsheets and documents provided tie these cell phones through geolocation to various organizations.”

    There are also multiple reasons cellphones could be found near multiple drop boxes during a several-month period. Many drop boxes were in public places like libraries and government buildings. Other people such as monitors from advocacy groups, reporters covering early voting, delivery drivers and more could have valid reasons for stopping near multiple drop boxes.

    THIS is their “evidence”? Good grief. So, an activist in and out of the library will show up on this “evidence” list, even if they were simply going in to read the paper or return a book?

    This is nonsense, and I hope these idiots are dragged for this.

    2
  13. Bob@Youngstown says:

    ballot box stuffing to having a third party collect and return completed absentee ballots

    Equated by some perhaps, but I always associated “harvesting” with the delivery of ballots collected from multiple sources, while “stuffing” is the intentional insertion of multiple ballots from one source.
    Harvesting may well be an act of courtesy to voters, while stuffing implies an intent to fraud on a mass scale. (As in I “harvest” my wife’s and my son’s ballot with my ballot when I collect all three to take to a dropbox or deliver all three to the postoffice).
    IMO

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: This is the first I’ve read of it and now I find myself wanting “the rest of the story.”

  15. just nutha says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Don’t worry about retelling the story. Most of us no longer have Archie Goodwin’s ability to recall an incident verbatim anymore (or had that ability to begin with either 😉 ).

    1
  16. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    Let alone that cell phone location data can be quite deceiving.

    For instance, before I disabled location data off my phone, Google Maps kept asking me to rate or review an ice cream shop on my route home, one I’ve never been to. It did this because I often got stuck in traffic near it.

    2
  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: (As in I “harvest” my wife’s and my son’s ballot with my ballot when I collect all three to take to a dropbox or deliver all three to the postoffice).

    This is generally perfectly legal (tho the details vary from state to state). AFAIK, what is generally/always illegal is a person not related going around say, an apartment block and collecting all the absentee/mail in ballots to either deposit at the ballot box or throw away depending upon their motivations.

    1
  18. just nutha says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Depending on where you live, your action may still be illegal, though. [claxon sound] FRAUD ALERT! FRAUD ALERT! [claxon sound] FRAUDSTER! FRAUDSTER! [claxon…

  19. Matt Bernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson: No apologies needed sir… Especially as new details keep coming out each time you write it.

    I repeat myself all the time, often intentionally. I think half the reason I started writing again is so I can reference back to previous posts.

  20. Matt Bernius says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: that is correct

  21. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I feel alluded to 😉

  22. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    They keep screaming they have overwhelming evidence of fraud, but the courts refuse to hear it.

    Among all the photons and electrons spilled in stories of the 2020 fraud allegations, I’ve seen not one speck of evidence. Not any. I know of no sworn statements by witnesses, either. And on top of all that, in this era where just about everyone carries a video camera in their pocket, I’ve seen not a single image of any fraud taking place.

    Not to mention that courts cannot refuse any evidence. A judge may declare evidence inadmissible, depending on the case, but for that to happen, they must see or hear it.

    More likely, meaning for certain, Benito’s Kraken team of washed-up lawyers, come up with innuendo and anomaly hunting crap, which judges dismiss because it’s not evidence.

    2
  23. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    For sure, but you see the term “harvest” applies to both the innocent activity and the nefarious activity. My point is that there are two “brands” of harvest – so maybe we should avoid mixing the two.
    @just nutha: Just another example of the idiocy of some laws: It is beyond ridiculous to criminalize my walking my wife’s ballot 50 feet to our mailbox ….. the state says she must take it herself.

  24. Tony W says:

    There has not been this much work done to protect somebody’s hurt feelings since a certain “virgin” became pregnant while betrothed to an old man, some 2000 years ago. That story went way off the rails, and this one is heading in the same direction.

    1
  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: For sure, but you see the term “harvest” applies to both the innocent activity and the nefarious activity.

    Not when lawyers and election officials use it. The word has specific legal connotations. A man/woman delivering his/her spouses or childs ballot is never referred to as harvesting. Maybe dumbf*ck reporters and twitternits use it that way, but not anybody who knows what they are talking about.

    eta: Some years back a near S Side district election was challenged based on allegations of ballot harvesting. There was a lot of smoke and more than a little fire. I don’t give credit to the STL Post Disgrace often these days, but they did a really good job of explaining exactly what was and what wasn’t ballot harvesting.

    FTR, the election was voided and the challenger, Bruce Franks won the re-vote, and the Hubbard political machine went down to ignominious defeat.

    1
  26. DK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Why would a group that claims it has evidence of ballot harvesting refuse to turn it over?

    Why have Republicans refused to provide evidence that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen?

    Why do Republicans make loud performative noises about illegal immigration then block immigration reform and do nothing serious to fix the immigration system when in power?

    3
  27. DK says:

    @Kathy:

    Among all the photons and electrons spilled in stories of the 2020 fraud allegations, I’ve seen not one speck of evidence.

    I mean there is evidence of voter fraud. It’s just coming from Mark Meadows, Glenn Youngkin’s son, and Florida Republicans in the The Villages.

  28. Sleeping Dog says:

    Why do Republicans make loud performative noises about illegal immigration then block immigration reform and do nothing serious to fix the immigration system when in power?

    at the risk of answering a rhetorical question. What an deprive themselves of an issue they can demagogue?

    1
  29. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..I don’t give credit to the STL Post Disgrace often these days, but they did a really good job of explaining exactly what was and what wasn’t ballot harvesting.

    I haven’t spent any quality time in Saint Louis for years. Used to visit with old “what’s her name?” and another couple on Cub-Cardinal weekends for a night or two at the Forest Park Hotel and a ball game. Likely in the mid late ’80s. I used to pick up the Riverfront Times. Seemed like a righteous rag and slammed the PD when the PD deserved it. Is it still around?