The electoral bureau in heavily democratic Fulton County, Georgia said Monday that two workers had been fired for destroying voter registration forms, most likely adding to a Republican-led investigation into the bureau that critics have cited as politically motivated.

Fulton County’s electoral committee workers were fired Friday after other employees saw them destroy registration forms that were being processed ahead of the November local elections, county electoral director Richard Barron said.

Both the District Attorney and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top electoral officer, have been asked to investigate the matter, Fulton County Commission chairman Robb Pitts said in a statement.

But it was Mr. Raffensperger who first exposed the allegations of tattered registration forms and issued a glowing press release calling on the Justice Department to investigate “incompetence and misdemeanor” in the agency. “After 20 years of documented failure in the Fulton County elections, Georgians are tired of waiting to see what the next embarrassing revelation will be,” he said.

His statement only underscored the political implications of the file destruction charge, which in any other electoral office would almost certainly have been charged less. Fulton County officials didn’t say how many forms were shredded, but Mr. Raffensperger put the total at about 300 in a county with 800,000 voters.

While the misconduct charge surfaced on Friday, it was unclear when the actual destruction of the registration forms could have taken place.

Mr Raffensperger, who attracted national attention for refusing former President Donald J. Trump’s request to “find” enough ballot papers to overturn President Biden’s narrow win in the state, faces a tough primary race against one of next spring Mr. Trump supported rivals. The Fulton County polling station, meanwhile, has become the object of the anger of Trump supporters who baselessly claim that Mr Biden’s victory in the state was illegitimate.

Some supporters are suing to conduct further scrutiny of the presidential election in Fulton County, which encompasses much of the metropolitan area of ​​Atlanta and where 73 percent of voters favored Mr Biden. The Georgia statewide vote was counted three times with no evidence of fraud.

The Republican-dominated state legislature passed law this spring giving it effective control over the state election committee and empowering the committee to investigate complaints from lawmakers about local electoral bodies. Fulton County was quickly selected for an investigation that could eventually replace the electoral board with a temporary superintendent with extensive voting authority.

Suffrage advocates and Democrats across the country have seen the investigation as a first step towards a pro-Trump takeover of the electoral machinery in the county most important to Democratic hopes in future elections.

“I don’t think there is any other state in the union that has a state electoral body with the power to turn a bipartisan electoral office into a partisan arm of the secretary of state,” Barron, Fulton County’s electoral director, told The Atlanta Journal -Constitution.

The county’s performance in the elections is mixed. Last year’s primaries were plagued by long lines and the district elections have long been the subject of complaints. A report by a state-appointed observer concluded that the elections there were “negligent” but found no evidence of “dishonesty, fraud or willful misconduct”.

The election committee has cited recent improvements, such as revised training manuals and newly appointed election officers, as evidence that it is addressing complaints. But Monday’s reveal gives critics fresh ammunition at a time when the upcoming November elections for the Atlanta mayor and city council are viewed as a test of the board’s proficiency.

Mary Norwood, a Fulton resident who lost just under two races for Atlanta mayor, is a longtime board critic. She said she was in favor of investigating the shredding allegations.

“If you have two employees who are fired by the election officer, it will certainly lead to investigation and analysis,” she said. “It’s important that we get it right.”