Explaining The Viral Video Claiming To Show Election Fraud In Fulton County, Georgia
A video shared on Twitter by the Trump campaign appears to show workers at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, where absentee ballots for the 2020 election were tabulated. One worker can be seen pulling something that looks like a suitcase out from under a table.
WATCH: Video footage from Georgia shows suitcases filled with ballots pulled from under a table AFTER supervisors told poll workers to leave room and 4 people stayed behind to keep counting votes pic.twitter.com/AcbTI1pxn4
— Team Trump (@TeamTrump) December 3, 2020
The tweet reads: “Video footage from Georgia shows suitcases filled with ballots pulled from under a table AFTER supervisors told poll workers to leave room and 4 people stayed behind to keep counting votes.”
While some workers chose to leave the arena before all the ballots were scanned, election officials agree that the video shows proper protocol for handling the ballots being followed. For instance, communications manager for Georgia’s secretary of state Walter Jones said in a statement to Check Your Fact that, “Nothing we have learned from the independent monitor or our investigation have suggested any improper ballots were scanned.”
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting systems implementation manager, likewise confirmed that the video showed normal procedure to the fact-checking website Lead Stories. “If you look at the video tape, the work you see is the work you would expect, which is you take the sealed suitcase looking things in, you place the ballots on the scanner in manageable batches and you scan them,” Sterling said.
The “suitcases” in the video were actually “standard containers” that were used to hold ballots, according to Frances Watson, the Georgia secretary of state’s chief investigator. The containers had been emptied out and “the ballots from it were actually out on the table when the media were still there,” Watson told Lead Stories.
Sterling explained that the ballots had been verified by “cutters,” election workers who open absentee ballot envelopes to verify the ballots before they are scanned and counted. The cutters left the arena around 10 p.m. when they finished their work. Other workers began to leave as well, though they were not told to, according to Watson.
“Nobody told them to stay. Nobody told them to leave,” she told Lead Stories. “Nobody gave them any advice on what they should do. And it was still open for them or the public to come back in to view at whatever time they wanted to, as long as they were still working.”
Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron had five county workers stay behind to finish scanning the ballots, WSB-TV 2, an Atlanta-based television outlet, reported on Nov. 4. These are seemingly the individuals seen in the video.
“Some people were let go, and when I found out they were letting people go, I told them they needed to stay,” Barron said.
Barron repeated during a Dec. 4 Board of Registration and Elections special meeting to re-certify the 2020 election results that the video showed “normal processing.” (RELATED: Does This Video Show Ballots Being Destroyed In Georgia’s Cobb County?)
“What the video shows is that they pulled out plastic bins from underneath the desk,” Barron said in the meeting. “Those are bins that they keep under their desk near the scanners. They then cut those seals that are on those, open those up and pull the ballots out. They were still in the process of cleaning so they hadn’t sealed those ballot boxes up so they were able to start right back up. It was normal processing that occurred there, as Gabe Sterling from the state explained.”
Additionally, WSB-TV 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray shared on Twitter that he had reviewed the footage himself and saw no evidence of anything “improper” occuring.
I just spent 2 hours going through State Farm surveillance video with @GabrielSterling & state investigators. We watched chain of custody of the table & ballot boxes in question – from 8am until midnight. The boxes were packed & sealed with observers in room – nothing improper pic.twitter.com/gKxS2GwD0Z
— Justin Gray (@JustinGrayWSB) December 4, 2020
“I just spent 2 hours going through State Farm surveillance video with @GabrielSterling & state investigators,” Gray tweeted, along with a photo of him watching the surveillance footage. “We watched chain of custody of the table & ballot boxes in question – from 8am until midnight. The boxes were packed & sealed with observers in room – nothing improper.”
The ballot scanners were not left unsupervised throughout the entire night, according to Jones, who said that the secretary of state’s office “dispatched an investigator and notified the independent monitor appointed by the State Election Board who both observed scanning until it was halted for the night around midnight.”
The scanners were unattended for about an hour until the election observer arrived, according to WSB-TV 2, though they were under video surveillance. Sterling denied anything nefarious occurred during the hour of unsupervised counting.
“These are just typical everyday election workers are just doing their jobs,” Sterling told the outlet. “This is not some Ocean’s Eleven-level scheme being put together in the middle of the night.”
Brendan Keefe, the chief investigative reporter for local television outlet 11 Alive, said in a segment shared on Twitter that observers should have been given notice that counting had resumed.
“The press and the party monitors were not given notice that counting would continue into the morning hours and they should have been,” he said.
Media outlets, such as WSB-TV 2 and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also reported on Nov. 5 that an election observer was present until the scanning was finished at 1 a.m.
While Georgia Code Title 21. Elections § 21-2-408 says partisan parties are “entitled” to have observers, there is nothing in the law that requires partisan observers to be present at all times.