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Beau EvansVoters trickle in to cast ballots during the early-voting period at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Oct. 28.

ATLANTA — A court ruling Friday set the stage for another review of Georgia’s election results.

Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero ordered Fulton County to unseal more than 145,000 absentee ballots to be examined for possible fraud.

Friday’s ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Garland Favorito, a longtime election watchdog, and several other plaintiffs.

It comes more than five months after Georgia’s Electoral College members met at the state Capitol and certified the state’s 16 electoral votes for Joe Biden and more than four months after Biden’s victory was certified by Congress in a session interrupted when supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, fought with police and vandalized offices inside.

The ruling drew praise from former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., who founded and chairs the voter registration group Greater Georgia.

“Voter confidence in our election system is the bedrock of our republic,” Loeffler said. “Unfortunately, inconsistencies in Fulton County’s November 2020 absentee ballots cast serious doubt on voters’ faith in our elections.

“The integrity of future elections is critical, and Judge Amero’s decision is a helpful step in restoring transparency, accountability, and voter confidence.”

Democrats accused Republicans of continuing to grasp at straws to overturn an election Biden clearly won.

“The votes have been counted multiple times, including a hand recount, and no evidence of fraud has been found,” Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said.

“The fact remains that Fulton County safely and securely carried out an election in the midst of a public health crisis. It’s a shame to see that the ‘Big Lie’ lives on and could cost the hardworking taxpayers of this county.”

Biden’s razor-thin margin of victory of 11,779 votes over Trump in Georgia last November touched off a flurry of about 130 complaints of alleged voter fraud.

But lawsuit after lawsuit was dismissed, including a case in Cobb County where the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found no evidence of fraud following an audit of more than 15,000 absentee ballots.

Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – all Republicans – defended the outcome of the election as legitimate.

But none of the dismissals satisfied either Trump or many other Georgia Republicans, who continue to insist the election was stolen.

The review of Fulton County absentee voters ordered by Amero mirrors an ongoing Republican-driven audit of the 2020 election results in Maricopa County, Ariz., another state Biden carried by a close margin.

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