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Central Georgia county election offices see increase in public records requests after 2020 election

A Houston County election official says they're still receiving requests for records dating back to the November 2020 election.

MACON, Ga. — As Georgia officials prepare for the general election, county officials across the country-- from Iowa and Virginia to Florida and Pennsylvania-- are reporting a slew of public records requests coming in.

It's even affecting county election offices in Central Georgia--like Bibb and Houston counties. 

Many offices across the state report being understaffed. But on top of that, officials say they're working under a microscope with records requests coming in weekly that they're required to respond to.

In the state of Georgia, officials legally must respond within three days. 

"Before 2020, we would have them on rare occasions. That picked up quite a bit since 2020," said Tom Gillon with Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections.

Both Bibb and Houston counties' Board of Elections offices say they've received an increase of records requests. It went from maybe one a month to several a week. 

"We get between five to ten a week," said Andy Holland with Houston County Board of Elections office.  

Gillon says Republican groups make up the majority of their requests. While Holland says it's a mix. But both say their offices are receiving some copied and pasted template requests from groups or individuals asking for the same public records. 

Records requests range from ballot images, logs of scanned records range from ballot images, logs of scanned absentee ballots, tapes from the tabulator, and items on election management computers. 

This influx in requests is after former President Donald Trump lost the state to President Joe Biden in November 2020. Trump's false claims cast doubt among some voters, leading to a full audit by hand in Georgia and threats to election officials.

Election officials in metro Atlanta counties and in other parts of the country have told numerous news outlets that they believe conspiracies about the 2020 election have led to activists filing several records requests.

Holland says it could be a variety of factors on why more groups and individuals are wanting access to these records.

"I don't know if it's disinformation or just not a complete picture or if it's just genuine interest. I think a lot of people are interested now. It's been in the news more. Georgia elections are in the spotlight more," Holland said.

Officials say since the 2020 election, they're also seeing more people wanting to observe the election process, including watching poll workers count absentee ballots. 

Both Gillon and Holland say they're just having to adjust to working elections in a post-2020 America. 

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