Johnson Suggests Georgia House Election Was Stolen From Ossoff

Citing wiped computer server, Georgia Democrat questions results that brought Karen Handel to office

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said democracy "teeters on the brink of failure" in an intense speech on Tuesday. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said democracy "teeters on the brink of failure" in an intense speech on Tuesday. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted October 31, 2017 at 9:58am

Rep. Hank Johnson indicated Monday he thinks Republicans may have stolen the special election for Georgia’s 6th District from fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Ossoff’s campaign spent more than $30 million, but lost to GOP Rep. Karen Handel by nearly 4 percentage points on June 20. It was the most expensive congressional race in history.

“I think it’s quite possible that Jon Ossoff won that election and the election was stolen from him,” Johnson, who once employed Ossoff as an aide, told WXIA-TV in Atlanta. “That’s my suspicion.”

Johnson cited delayed election results from one county on election night and Ossoff’s strong polling numbers leading up to the vote.

He also mentioned foggy circumstances surrounding a server at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Elections Systems, which stores votes in Georgia.

The server in question had been handed over to the FBI after an alleged data breach in March 2017, but the subsequent investigation found the server uncorrupted. Less than a month after Handel’s victory, the center wiped the election results from the server because it had been “designated to be repurposed… for alternative uses” by the FBI, the university said in a statement.

But Johnson said “Georgia needs to get down to the bottom with happened with the destruction of that very important evidence that now appears to be gone forever.”

Ossoff and his campaign have not publicly made any statements alleging foul play on the election results.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office has initiated an investigation into the destroyed data.

Handel’s office could not be reached for comment.

Roll Call reached out to Johnson’s office to inquire if he had more than circumstantial evidence to support his theory, but has not received a response.

Handel won the election with 51.8 percent of the vote. Ossoff garnered 48.2 percent after routinely polling slightly higher than Handel in the days and weeks before the election.

Handel assumed the vacated seat of former Rep. Tom Price, who resigned as Secretary of Health and Human Services in September after a charter flight scandal.