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Perdue sues to inspect absentee ballots, pushing debunked election fraud claims

Filed days after he announced his Trump-endorsed campaign to primary Georgia's Republican governor, the former senator’s lawsuit argues an inspection of absentee ballots in Atlanta is necessary to determine whether counterfeit ballots were counted.

ATLANTA (CN) — Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue sued Atlanta election officials Friday seeking to inspect absentee ballots and other materials from last year’s election, raising some of the same unproven and debunked allegations made in a lawsuit dismissed just two months ago.

Filed just four days after the former U.S. senator launched his campaign for the governor’s seat, the 77-page complaint revives conspiracy theories first promoted by former President Donald Trump’s supporters that thousands of “unlawfully marked” absentee ballots were counted in Fulton County’s presidential election.

The complaint repeats debunked claims that batches of absentee ballots were scanned multiple times, that officials failed to account for the chain of custody for 20,000 absentee ballots, and that “thousands” of counterfeit ballots were scanned and included in the certified vote total.

Alleging that their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection were violated, Perdue and co-plaintiff Elizabeth Grace Lennon, a voter who claims someone else requested an absentee ballot in her name, have asked for a forensic inspection of absentee ballots, ballot return envelopes and absentee ballot election reports.

A state court judge dismissed a similar lawsuit filed by conspiracy theorist Garland Favorito in October after state investigators said they could not find any counterfeit ballots.

Perdue and Lennon allege in the lawsuit that “clearly unlawful counterfeit absentee ballots were counted and certified,” causing Georgia citizens to be denied their right to vote and to have their vote “diluted and debased.”

The complaint also renews unsubstantiated claims by election auditor Susan Voyles that she saw “pristine” absentee ballots that appeared to have been marked by a printer. Investigators with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office have said they could not find any such ballots.

The plaintiffs say they are not trying to contest the election results and only want to show “uncontroverted evidence to this court of an accurate account of legal, not counterfeit, absentee ballots, and to play a role in fashioning a remedy in order to prevent the harm and injury from occurring in the future.”

Although Georgia election officials have repeatedly said they found no evidence of fraud in the state’s election and three ballot counts upheld President Joe Biden’s victory, Perdue has nonetheless made claims of election malfeasance a centerpiece of his campaign to oust Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Perdue, who lost his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate in a January runoff against Jon Ossoff, has been endorsed by Trump. The former president has repeatedly attacked Kemp for not doing enough to overturn his loss in Georgia.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday, Perdue said he would not have certified the results of the election and admitted that he wanted Kemp to call a special legislative session to examine allegations of ballot fraud which have since been disproven.

The complaint claims that inspecting the ballots is necessary to restore trust in the election system. Without it, the plaintiffs claim that officials overseeing future elections in Fulton County are likely to continue to engage in “negligent, grossly negligent, willful, malicious, or corrupt conduct.“

The lawsuit also asks the court to order the defendants, including Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron, to fire any employee who committed or knew about the alleged fraud.

Asked for comment Friday evening, Barron described the lawsuit as “a desperate act by an Old South politician all too common amongst a certain brand of local and state elected officials In Georgia." He said Perdue is “among the many in elected officials in Georgia that are more interested in their own political fortunes than maintaining our republic’s grand government institutions.”

“As a believer in the institutions of government, rather than being an adherent to a political party, I am disappointed as this is another example of a cowardly elected official attempting to ingratiate himself with the delusional cult of Trump to gain an endorsement in his May primary,” Barron said in an email.

The plaintiffs have asked the court to order Barron and the other defendants to "certify the correct vote total to the secretary of state" after the ballot inspection takes place, if it is allowed to occur.

Georgia's election has already been certified.

Perdue and Lennon are represented by Robert Cheeley of the Cheeley Law Group and Wm. Charles Bundren of the Bundren Law Group.

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