The State Elections Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to dismiss three ballot-fraud claims brought by right-wing activists–judging their allegation to be false that fraudulent actors illegally stuffed large batches of absentee ballots in drop boxes during the 2020 presidential election.
One of those dismissed allegations is featured in a documentary, “2000 Mules,” directed by conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza set to be released May 20. The film falsely claims unnamed nonprofits linked to the Democratic Party paid people, whom it calls “mules,” to illegally collect and deposit absentee ballots in drop boxes in five swing states where Biden won–Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Ballot “harvesting” or collection, is when someone other than the voter delivers their absentee ballot to a dropbox. In Georgia, it’s only legal for family members or disabled voters’ caregivers to do this for them.
The movie features surveillance footage of a man in a white SUV depositing five absentee ballots into a Gwinnett County dropbox. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined in an investigation last fall that the man was legally delivering ballots cast by himself, his wife and children.
State Elections Board chair Matt Mashburn said at the board’s meeting Tuesday that the “2000 Mules” allegation that 92,000 absentee ballots were illegally collected in Georgia was false. “They were saying there were 92,000 illegitimately manufactured votes in Georgia,” said Mashburn, a Republican. “Maybe I misunderstood the point they were making, but that was the point I heard. That is not true.”
The other two claims that the State Elections Board dismissed were over similar surveillance videos.
One Duluth resident at the meeting, David Cross, blasted the board and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office for not sufficiently investigating his wide-ranging complaints of ballot improprieties. Cross accused the elections board of ignoring his allegations of “ballot trafficking,” under-investigated surveillance videos, and unsigned tabular tapes, which are the paper tapes of vote totals that county elections offices deliver to the board.
Cross started a Twitter account last June called @GAballots, which says in the bio: “My team finds errors in the Georgia votes -we’ve spent thousands of hours on this.” So far, it’s amassed 3,686 followers.
In another Twitter account, @5xStock, Cross calls himself an “investment enthusiast.” When he started a financial planning firm, U.S. Asset Management, in 2016, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce hosted a grand opening attended by then-U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall and then-Gwinnett County Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Cross said he contacted Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger a dozen times over the last year about his concerns, but only heard from Raffensperger when he called seeking a campaign donation.
“No one has been held accountable. I’m embarrassed to be a Georgian,” Cross told the board. ”Is this the way we run elections in the greatest country on Earth–like some third-rate banana republic? Our leaders–the governor and the secretary of state–need to fulfill their constitutional duties to the citizens.”
“Put on your big boy pants,” he added. “Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Everyone here wants a secure vote. Election integrity is paramount.”
“2000 Mules” is based on information from Truth The Vote, a conservative vote-monitoring group in Houston, which gathered drop-box surveillance video in Georgia and other swing states. In April, the State Elections Board subpoenaed documents, recordings, and names of the people who allegedly harvested the Georgia ballots from Truth the Vote, but the group has not complied.
According to the Secretary of State’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, the group has confidentiality concerns for someone it claims has information about the so-called ballot harvesting.
Germany told the board that his office is in discussions with Truth the Vote’s lawyers about obtaining the subpoenaed information “Truth The Vote does have some genuine concerns about the confidentiality of information. So we’re trying to work with them to resolve those concerns,” he said.
The board authorized the Georgia Attorney General’s office to petition a judge to enforce the subpoenas and protect witnesses’ confidentiality.