Conservative group tells judge it has no evidence to back its claims of Georgia ballot stuffing

Conservative group tells judge it has no evidence to back its claims of Georgia ballot stuffing
3 months 1 week 5 days ago Wednesday, February 14 2024 Feb 14, 2024 February 14, 2024 3:38 PM February 14, 2024 in News - AP Texas Headlines
Source: APnews.com
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020 photo, Cobb County Election officials prepare for a recount, in Marietta, Ga. A conservative group that claimed to uncover a ballot trafficking scheme in Georgia has told a judge it has no evidence to back up its allegations. Texas-based group True the Vote in complaint filed with Georgia's secretary of state said it had spoken to several people with knowledge of coordinated efforts to collect and deposit ballots in drop boxes during 2020 and 2021 elections. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A conservative group has told a Georgia judge that it doesn't have evidence to support its claims of illegal ballot stuffing during the 2020 general election and a runoff two months later.

Texas-based True the Vote filed complaints with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2021, including one in which it said it had obtained "a detailed account of coordinated efforts to collect and deposit ballots in drop boxes across metro Atlanta" during the November 2020 election and a January 2021 runoff.

A Fulton County Superior Court judge in Atlanta signed an order last year requiring True the Vote to provide evidence it had collected, including the names of people who were sources of information, to state elections officials who were frustrated by the group's refusal to share evidence with investigators.

In their written response, attorneys for True the Vote said the group had no names or other documentary evidence to share.

"Once again, True the Vote has proven itself untrustworthy and unable to provide a shred of evidence for a single one of their fairy-tale allegations," Raffensperger spokesman Mike Hassinger said Wednesday. "Like all the lies about Georgia's 2020 election, their fabricated claims of ballot harvesting have been repeatedly debunked."

True the Vote's assertions were relied upon heavily for "2000 Mules," a widely debunked film by conservative pundit and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza. A State Election Board investigation found that surveillance camera footage that the film claimed showed ballot stuffing actually showed people submitting ballots for themselves and family members who lived with them, which is allowed under Georgia law.

The election board subpoenaed True the Vote to provide evidence that would assist it in investigating the group's ballot trafficking allegations.

True the Vote's complaint said its investigators "spoke with several individuals regarding personal knowledge, methods, and organizations involved in ballot trafficking in Georgia." It said one person, referred to in the complaint only as John Doe, "admitted to personally participating and provided specific information about the ballot trafficking process."

Frustrated by the group's refusal to share evidence, Georgia officials took it to court last year. A judge ordered True the Vote to turn over names and contact information for anyone who had provided information, as well as any recordings, transcripts, witness statements or other documents supporting its allegations.

The group came up empty-handed despite having "made every additional reasonable effort to locate responsive items," its attorneys David Oles and Michael Wynne wrote in a Dec. 11 legal filing first reported Wednesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

True the Vote's founder and president, Catherine Engelbrecht, didn't immediately respond to an Associated Press email seeking comment Wednesday. She and another member of the group were briefly jailed in 2022 for contempt for not complying with a court order to provide information in a defamation lawsuit. The suit accused True the Vote of falsely claiming that an election software provider stored the personal information of U.S. election workers on an unsecured server in China.

Prior to the State Election Board's investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation looked into True the Vote's assertion that it was able to use surveillance video and geospatial mobile device information to support its allegations. In a September 2021 letter, Vic Reynolds, who was then the GBI's director, said the evidence produced did not amount to proof of ballot harvesting.

State elections officials opened their own investigation after receiving True the Vote's complaint two months later. When pressed to provide names of sources and other documentation, the group last year tried to withdraw its complaint. One of its attorneys wrote that a complete response would require True the Vote to identify people to whom it had promised confidentiality.

The State Election Board refused to shelve the complaint and went to court to force True the Vote to turn over information.

In addition to names, the judge ordered True the Vote to provide copies of any confidentiality agreements it had with sources.

The group's attorneys replied: "TTV has no such documents in its possession, custody, or control."

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