The Trump campaign falsely alleges that surveillance camera footage captured election workers in Georgia and added thousands of illegal ballots that were brought to an Atlanta facility in suspicious “suitcases” on election night.
The campaign presented the video to Georgia state lawmakers on December 3rd. President Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, wrote on Twitter on the same day: “The videotape doesn’t lie. The Fulton County Democrats stole the election. It is now beyond doubt. “Trump himself later reinforced the claim at a rally in Georgia on December 5th.
But sThe government officials told us that the full video shows that the alleged “suitcases” are actually standard containers used to secure ballot papers and that the ballot papers in question are opened and in full view for counting earlier in the night the observer were prepared. You said that The campaign featured limited, selected portions of the footage.
This is based on the full review of the day’s video footage. Even if observers from the parties and the press left the room before the vote resumed, an official from the State Electoral Committee and an investigator from the Secretary of State returned to follow the count through to completion.
However, the exact facts remain unclear about an alleged “announcement” to the workers in the room that Republican observers claim caused them to leave, as we shall explain.
No “suitcases” in the video
The video in question, which is widely shared on social media, was presented to Georgia state lawmakers during the December 3 hearing by a lawyer named Jacki Pick, who said she was volunteering for Trump’s legal team. Pick is listed as an attorney by the State Bar of Texas, but appears to work primarily as a conservative podcast host. She and her husband, Doug Deason, are major Republican donors.
Said Pick Trump’s legal team received the video the night before, and it shows observers and the press leaving a room in the Atlanta State Farm Arena just before 11 p.m. where letter and military votes were being counted. She claimed that according to witnesses a woman had told observers and the press, “We’re going to stop counting, everyone is going home.”
She pointed out that many of the poll workers in the video left for the night, but the video shows four workers staying behind to continue counting.
“Once everyone is gone, the coast will be clear, they will pull ballots out from under a table – look at this table,” she said at the hearing. “I saw four suitcases come out from under the table.” The video shows the count continues until almost 1 a.m., she said.
But the alleged “suitcases” were typical ballot boxes that were used to secure ballot papers. Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Jordan Fuchs told us in a telephone interview. Likewise, Matthew Mashburn, the Senate agent for the State Election Board, told us the video “shows standard secure containers that are ubiquitous in tabulation in Georgia”.
And Gabriel Sterling, the state The voting system implementation manager said the full video showed that the containers contained ballot papers that were opened and processed earlier in the night. It wasn’t suspicious ballot papers that were secretly brought into the building or ballot papers that were secretly opened.
“They were put there about an hour earlier,” Sterling, a Republican, said over the phone. He said of the Trump campaign, “You saw the same videotape.”
Sterling also said he had not seen any anomalies in the voting data suggesting any type of mass voter fraud it was claimed. “These are just regular poll workers,” he said.
While state law allows observers to watch the vote count, it is not illegal to resume the count if the watchers leave. He said his office was working on making the video footage from the arena public so voters could see the footage with more context.
Departure of the observers
Our interviews with state officials indicate that the election workers apparently intended to stop counting votes at some point.
Rick Barron, election officer for Fulton County, made this clear in a special, virtual project public meeting on December 4th. He said that “cEmployees who were on the cutting stations that were on the flattening stations that were pulled out from the inner envelopes left those employees behind after the work was completed. “
“I found out at some point, I think shortly after 10:30 [p.m.]that they were going to shut down and I told them not to, ”he said. He added that at 11:15 am [p.m.]have completely scanned them again. “
Pick alleged witnesses said a woman “came out to announce” we’re going to stop counting, everyone is going home, “and Republican observers were” forced to leave. “But Barron said that” was never announced, too. ” go so someone can go. “
Affidavits from Two Republican field organizers Pick is referring to make no claim that they or the media were ever directly briefed or forced to leave the company. Instead, observers say they left after a woman – whom they believed was a supervisor – “yelled at” workers in the room to stop operations and return the next day. The affidavits state that most of the room, with the exception of a few employees, had been vacated.
“We have opened an investigation into why the political party observers left before the end of the scanning process,” said the state secretary in a statement. “Although it was their right to leave early, we want to make sure they were not misled into believing that scanning was stopped for the night when it wasn’t. Nothing we have learned from the independent monitor or our investigation indicates that false ballots were scanned. “
Sterling said in our interview with him on December 4th that there appeared to be no official announcement to the watchers or the press, but there is no audio to prove this in one way or another.
On December 5, Frances Watson, the secretary’s chief investigator, said in an affidavit that after reviewing the video and conducting interviews, her investigators found “that observers and the media were not told to leave,” but “simply to leave “. After seeing workers whose job it was to open the ballot papers, they left. She said the investigation was still ongoing.
Nor is there any evidence that a “major water break” in the arena earlier that day had anything to do with observing and leaving the press as some have suggested.
One of Trump’s sons, Eric Trump, wrote on Facebook that “Republican observers were evicted from the State Farm Arena due to a “major water break”, but 4 people stayed behind, rolled out ballots, and privately counted the ballots from approximately 10:30 pm to 1:00 am. “
The water leak occurred at 6:07 a.m. on election day, according to Arena, and was fixed within two hours – meaning it occurred long before the episode in question.
Debunked ballot papers
During the legislative hearing, Pick claimed that the votes counted in the room after the observers left could be enough to change the results of Georgia’s presidential election.
Pick suspected that the machines in the room could have had “18,000 ballots” in total. (Biden won the state by less than 12,000 votes.)
But that is wrong, according to the observer from the state election committee who was in the room while counting.
The monitor, which agreed to be interviewed on condition that he was not named due to death threats from election officials, informed us that he was in the room until about 8:15 p.m. when he left and returned at 11:52 p.m.
Fuchs, the deputy secretary of state, told us the monitor didn’t have to be there all the time, but she instructed him to return after hearing from the news outlets that the county wouldn’t count for the night.
The monitor arrived at 11:52 p.m. – after observers left just before 11 p.m. – and stayed until the count stopped at 12.43 p.m.
Between 8.15 p.m. and 12.43 p.m. the change in the total number of ballots went from 89,381 ballots received 99,133 ballots – a difference of 9,752 votes – he said. And that’s more than four hours again, not just the time after observers and media have left.
The footage is not the first to trigger fraud cases in Georgia. We also wrote about a video showing an election worker performing an ordinary part of the Gwinnett County recount that has resulted in false claims. The videos were part of a barrage of falsehoods aimed at undermining the results of the 2020 election, as we reported.
Saranac Hale Spencer contributed to this report.
Update, Dec. 7: We have updated this story to reflect new information – including the affidavits from Republican field organizers and statements from the chief investigator for the Secretary of State – as to why the observers and media left the room at the State Farm Arena.
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