When it comes to keeping Georgia’s election process honest, Garland Favorito is one of the toughest advocates and critics.
Favorito has been rattling the nerves of many Georgia political elites for 15 years while testing the mettle of the state’s election system.
The retired information technology professional is co-founder of VoterGA, a nonpartisan election integrity nonprofit with thousands of social media followers. Politically, he is independent.
Atlanta Civic Circle caught up with the Roswell resident who is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the authenticity of 147,000 absentee ballots cast in Fulton County during last year’s presidential election.
Here’s what Favorito had to say. This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q. You are one of the people who filed a lawsuit to have the absentee ballots audited. Why?
A. Well, yeah. Inspected. It’s not a full audit. There was evidence of potential counterfeit ballots. We want to inspect those to see if the evidence and sworn affidavits… are in fact correct.
Q. Where did the evidence come from? Did someone tell you? Did they actually see it?
A. There are four sworn affidavits from senior Fulton County poll managers who claimed they handled counterfeit ballots in the audit that occurred on November 14 and 15.
Q. How many did they handle or actually see?
A. We couldn’t tell how many there were because the audit monitors weren’t allowed to get within six feet of a table so that they could detect the counterfeit ballot. What they described was that there were mail-in ballots that hadn’t been folded from being mailed. They were not marked with a writing instrument but they were marked by a machine and they have different paper stock. And they were marked the same way all of the down-ballot races (were marked).
Q. So what is that indicating to you?
A. That there are potentially counterfeit ballots. They’re not real.
Q. A Henry County judge who is hearing the case said this week he’s going to need more time to review the evidence. What’s your understanding of Monday’s hearing?
A. Yeah, there are a lot of complicated motions. He’s going to need time to sort all of those out.
Q. Do you expect his ruling to come this week?
A. I don’t think so. It’ll probably be a week or two.
Q. You’re one of nine people who filed the lawsuit in this case. What is the lawsuit alleging?
A. It’s alleging counterfeit ballots were in the count. Therefore, somebody injected them. We want to prevent that from happening.
Q.The lawsuit also alleges that it violated your constitutional rights. How so?
A. If somebody puts counterfeit ballots into the count, then it dilutes your vote. So it’s an equal protection violation and it’s also due process violation. It’s illegal.
Q. How does this impact our democracy?
A. Somebody injected counterfeit ballots into the count. It subverts democracy.
Q. Georgia is not the only state contesting ballots. There’s tension in Arizona right now over its ballot recount and there are various other cases throughout the country. What does this tell you on a broader, macro scale?
A. I’m glad there’s concern. People want to make sure that votes are counted correctly. So that’s good. But we don’t know until we see what the findings are. We don’t know now what it really is.
Q. How did your organization, VoterGA, get started?
A. We were created about 15 years ago to bring the lawsuit against the old electronic voting machines. We believe that they were unconstitutional because you couldn’t verify, audit or recount the results. They were very corrupt machines. They never should have been purchased in Georgia. They were purchased in 2002. They weren’t taken out of service until 2019.
Q. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your years as an elections integrity activist?
A. What I’ve learned is that the corruption is deeper than I had ever imagined.
Q. Tell me a little bit more about that. Are you saying that the corruption is bipartisan? Or is it one party over another? Or is it just built into the system?
A. That’s a great point. You have the Democrats in Fulton County and the Republicans in the Secretary of State’s office and you can’t trust either one of them. Yeah, it’s definitely bipartisan corruption at that.
Q. Your organization is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. So you’re not necessarily looking at any particular side or pushing one side over another. It sounds like your interest is getting at the truth or the integrity of the process.
A. We’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. Last time we were helping the progressives. This time, it appears that the former president got cheated. But we spent years trying to help the progressives because they thought they were cheated by the Republican establishment. Yeah, it’s really been on both sides. Election integrity really has to be nonpartisan.
Q. What has surprised you the most in your years as an election integrity activist?
A. The depth of corruption.
Q. Politicians and the media have repeatedly said there has been no real demonstrative evidence there was fraud in connection with last year’s election. Does that make you cringe when you hear that?
A.Yes, because I know they’re lying.
Q. Do you feel your 15 years as an election integrity activist has been worth it?
A.Yeah, I think so because it’s really come together in the last few years. It’s really kind of peaked in the last couple of years. I think the last couple of years have made the first 10 or 12 years worthwhile. For many years, we felt that people weren’t listening to us. We had the evidence and the facts but people weren’t listening. Now people are starting to listen, and they’re realizing that the news media hasn’t been telling us the truth. And the Secretary of State’s office hasn’t been telling us the truth. So people now are waking up and they’re understanding. They want election integrity, and they want election transparency like they’ve never wanted it before.