Fulton officials say ballots were never in danger after alarm went off at elections warehouse

ATLANTA — Fulton County officials are calling what happened at their Northwest Atlanta elections warehouse over the weekend a false alarm but concede the matter remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office.

That warehouse contains nearly 147,000 ballots ordered unsealed by a judge so they can be inspected as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the county.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts and Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat said a motion sensor alarm went off Saturday afternoon inside a part of the warehouse separate from where those ballots are kept.

They said that when two private security guards went inside to investigate, they discovered an unlocked door, but that the door did not lead to where the ballots were kept.

And, they said, there was no evidence that unsecured door was ever opened.

“It is also worthy or noteworthy that the actual ballots are behind a secondary door that is locked with a secondary alarm, which is independent of the alarm that went off,” Labat said.

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“The most important thing we know for a fact right now is that the room where the ballots are kept was never breached or compromised,” Pitts said. “The ballots remain safe despite what some would have you believe.”

The story made the rounds on right-wing media over the weekend, even prompting a critical statement from former President Donald Trump.

Last month, a judge ordered those 147,000 ballots unsealed as part of an elections lawsuit claiming Fulton County mishandled thousands of ballots and allowed counterfeit ones to be counted, though even the plaintiffs agree that the lawsuit could not overturn the November 2020 election.

Garland Favorito of VoterGA is one of those plaintiffs. He said they’ve been worried about ballot security inside that warehouse.

“The security of the ballots has been a concern ever since we filed this lawsuit,” Favorito said. “There’s no way to tell for sure whether it’s nefarious or incompetence, but the concern is that there’s definitely not adequate security.”

Labat said he is investigating why there was an apparent shift change among deputies who left the site shortly before the alarm went off. He has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist in that investigation.