Georgia election: Trump voter fraud claims and others fact-checked

By Reality Check team and BBC Monitoring
BBC News

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Election officials gather in GeorgiaImage source, Reuters

US President Donald Trump and others have made new unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud following the rerun of two crucial Senate races in the state of Georgia.

With the Democrats looking likely to win both seats and with them control of the US Senate, we've debunked some of the theories that have been widely shared on social media.

Claim: Dominion voting machines stopped working in Republican areas

Since the November election, the president has repeatedly made baseless allegations that Dominion voting machines have been manipulated to engineer electoral fraud.

Referring to the vote in Georgia, Mr Trump said these machines had stopped working in Republican strongholds for "over an hour".

The official in charge of Georgia's voting systems, Gabriel Sterling, said there has been an issue in one county due to "a programming error on security keys" but that it was resolved hours before the president made his comments.

Mr Sterling tweeted: "The, votes of everyone will be protected and counted. Sorry you received old intel Mr President."

Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also clarified in a statement that there had been some issues but they did not stop people from voting, Reuters news agency reports.

"At no point did voting stop as voters continued casting ballots on emergency ballots, in accordance with the procedures set out by Georgia law," said Mr Raffensperger.

Claim: 'Shredded ballots' were found

An image that has been shared thousands of times on Twitter purported to show a pile of destroyed ballots in Georgia on election day.

"Our team is in Georgia. They took a little walk. They found shredded ballots in Dell boxes," the tweet said.

Although the post provided no detail as to where exactly the picture had been taken, we were able to geolocate it to the absentee ballot processing centre at the Georgia World Congress Center in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta.

Fulton County elections director Richard Barron told the BBC that the papers in the picture were "definitely not ballots", but waste from a letter-opening machine used to cut ballot envelopes.

We've reported on similar claims about alleged ballot shredding in Georgia before.

In November, an investigation into the shredding of papers in Cobb County concluded that it was part of a "routine clean-up operation" and the documents disposed of were not actual votes "relevant to the election or the re-tally".

Claim: "They are setting up a big 'voter dump' against the Republican candidates. Waiting to see how many votes they need?"

In a tweet generating some 300,000 likes and retweets, President Trump claimed there was a "voter dump" planned against Republican candidates.

But there's no evidence of wrongdoing.

It's not clear exactly what he means by a "voter dump", but he may be referring to the fact that large batches of votes are released at once.

This is standard practice and a valid part of the vote-counting process.

In Georgia, as in the presidential elections, larger districts, often including cities that may lean Democrat, take longer to report their results.

Media caption,
Georgia official Gabriel Sterling urged voters to cast ballots

Mr Trump has falsely claimed on multiple occasions that millions of genuine votes in November's presidential election that were counted after polls closed were "fake".

In Georgia, election official Gabriel Sterling noted after the polls closed that some 171,000 early, in-person ballots from DeKalb County, which is Democrat-leaning, were yet to be counted.

Authorities knew how many of these "advanced" votes were coming.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Claim: Chatham County stopped counting, again

A number of Republican officials and activists, including White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the founder of conservative activist group Turning Point USA, claimed workers at the Chatham county count had suddenly stopped counting for the rest of the night and gone home, raising the prospect of foul play.

"They're doing this again. You can't make this up," Charlie Kirk tweeted.

Similar claims of fraud or suspicious activity were made during the presidential election count in the county, after it took a few days for all the absentee and mail-in ballots to be tabulated.

But Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting systems implementation manager, took to Twitter to say the count "didn't just stop".

Workers had finished counting all the ballots they had except absentee ballots received on election day, Mr Sterling, a Republican, added.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The county's board of elections chairman, Tom Mahoney, confirmed later that about 3,000 to 4,000 election day absentee ballots were left to count.

Reporting by Jack Goodman, Christopher Giles, Shayan Sardarizadeh and Olga Robinson.