ATLANTA (AP) — Officials in Georgia's most populous county, where election operations are already under review by the state, have fired two workers accused of shredding paper voter registration applications, according to a county statement released Monday.
Preliminary information indicates that the employees checked out batches of applications for processing. Instead of fully processing them, they are alleged to have shredded some of the forms, the Fulton County statement says. Fellow employees reported the alleged actions to their supervisor Friday morning, and the two employees were fired that day.
The county statement says the applications were received in the past two weeks. Fulton County includes most of the city of Atlanta, where voters are set to go to the polls Nov. 2 to elect a new mayor, City Council members and school board members. The deadline to register to vote in that election was Oct. 4.
Fulton County Registration and Elections Director Rick Barron also reported the allegations to the secretary of state's office of investigations.
Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts reported the matter to county District Attorney Fani Willis for investigation.
“Elections are the most important function of our government,” Pitts said in the statement. “We have committed to transparency and integrity.”
The county statement does not say how many applications were affected, but Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a news release that it was 300 applications.
Raffensperger, a Republican who has long been a critic of how elections are run in the heavily Democratic county, said in a statement that his office has launched an investigation and he called on the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the county's elections.
“After 20 years of documented failure in Fulton County elections, Georgians are tired of waiting to see what the next embarrassing revelation will be,” Raffensperger said in the release. “The Department of Justice needs to take a long look at what Fulton County is doing and how their leadership disenfranchises Fulton voters through incompetence and malfeasance. The voters of Georgia are sick of Fulton County’s failures.”
Georgia’s State Election Board in August appointed a review panel to investigate Fulton County’s handling of elections after receiving requests from Republican lawmakers who represent the county. The lawmakers were using a controversial provision of the state’s sweeping new election law to trigger a process that could ultimately lead to a takeover of elections in the county.
Any Fulton County resident who tries to vote in an upcoming election and is found not to be registered will be able to vote using a provisional ballot, and an investigation will follow, the county statement says.