FACT CHECK: Were Counterfeit Ballots Found At A Warehouse In Fulton County, Georgia?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A viral Facebook post claims counterfeit ballots were found at a warehouse in Fulton County, Georgia.

Verdict: False

The ballots in question are legitimate unused emergency ballots that were printed out of caution for the November election, according to the voting system implementation manager for the Georgia secretary of state’s office. Georgia state election rules require counties to print a certain percentage of emergency ballots in case they are needed.

Fact Check:

In the days leading up to the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, social media users shared an image of over a dozen cardboard boxes alongside claims that a warehouse in Fulton County was filled with counterfeit ballots. The text in this particular Facebook post appears to lift from a tweet thread by former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne that makes the same claim.

In a Jan. 4 press conference, Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, addressed the allegation. The ballots photographed in the warehouse were not fake ballots but rather emergency ballots, Sterling said.

“For any of y’all in the press who have been to the Fulton County warehouse, these are the emergency ballots that have been sitting in that warehouse since before the November election, very much in plain view for everybody to see,” Sterling said.

Georgia state election rules require counties to print emergency ballots in case they are needed. The “sufficient amount of emergency ballots shall be at least 10% of the number of registered voters in the polling place” for any primary or general election in which a state or federal candidate is on the ballot, according to state election rules.

Sterling further explained that the county printed 100% of the ballots it would need to conduct the November election entirely by paper ballot. The county did so out of an abundance of caution after a COVID-19 outbreak at the warehouse occurred before the logic and accuracy testing of voting equipment. The ballots were ultimately not needed because the testing was able to occur, according to Sterling.

“They are not fake ballots,” he said. “They are real ballots, they are unused ballots.” (RELATED: Viral Video Claims To Show A Technician Manipulating Voting Data In Georgia)

Stephen Fowler, a Georgia Public Broadcasting politics reporter, also debunked the claim on Twitter, saying that they were “emergency backup paper ballots.”

“BIG NEWS: You just discovered emergency backup paper ballots, which Georgia law requires counties to have in case the voting machines go down or some other problem occurs,” Fowler tweeted. “They’re very real, and tracked if they are used. I won’t hold my breath for this to be deleted, though.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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