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No evidence Georgia ‘happened to find’ ballots in Senate runoff, as Trump claims | PolitiFact

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s Republican voting system implementation manager, rejected President Donald Trump’s claim that the state “happened to find 50,000 ballots.”
Observers watch an official work as ballots are counted for Georgia's Senate runoff election at the Georgia World Congress Center on Wednesday in Atlanta.
Observers watch an official work as ballots are counted for Georgia's Senate runoff election at the Georgia World Congress Center on Wednesday in Atlanta. [ BRYNN ANDERSON | AP ]
Published Jan. 7

President Donald Trump lobbed baseless claims that sought to discredit Georgia’s runoff election, hours after the results showed both Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate ahead.

“They just happened to find 50,000 ballots late last night,” Trump tweeted Jan. 6. “The USA is embarrassed by fools. Our Election Process is worse than that of third world countries!”

Trump offered no evidence of wrongdoing in the count, and officials PolitiFact spoke to did not find any.

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s Republican voting system implementation manager, tweeted in response to Trump: “No Mr. President, there weren’t ‘found’ ballots.”

“We have known the number of advanced votes since this weekend,” Sterling continued. “We saw record Election Day turnout. As of Monday 970,000 absentees had been accepted. 31k more were added in yesterday’s totals. That leaves 60k that came in yesterday.”

“We have no clue what he is referring to,” Sterling added in an interview with PolitiFact. “They looked at the ballots uploaded overnight, which are ballots we knew about. We talked about it at our last interview around 2 a.m. We don’t find 50,000. You count the 50,000 you had.”

In a press conference Jan. 6, Sterling said Trump was undermining faith in the election process. He said officials have known since the weekend that DeKalb County, east of Atlanta, already had about 171,000 early ballots, a point he also made on Twitter the night of the election.

Amber McReynolds, chief executive officer of the National Vote at Home Institute, agreed that there is no evidence that Georgia election workers “happened to find” any improper votes.

“Election officials are following the law and processing ballots. Ballots do not just magically get processed,” McReynolds told PolitiFact. “It takes time and people and equipment to process ballots. Georgia officials are following the law and ensuring that every vote cast is counted.”

The Trump campaign and White House did not respond to PolitiFact’s inquiries.

Trump’s comments about Georgia echoed similarly unsubstantiated allegations he lodged about the race he lost to Joe Biden in November. As PolitiFact reported, it’s typical for vote tallies to come in batches as counties report their results.

This happened throughout the night of Georgia’s runoff election, the Associated Press reported.

Trump said Georgia “just happened to find” 50,000 votes. That’s a ridiculous and inaccurate way to describe the counting of legally cast ballots. We rate his statement Pants on Fire!

PolitiFact reporter Samantha Putterman contributed to this fact-check.

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