The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump touts misleading video as ‘proof’ of Georgia voter fraud

Video pushed by President Trump fails to support the claims of voter fraud it alleges happened on Election Day in Fulton County, Ga. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

“I don’t run to see if people are walking in with suitcases and putting them under a table with a black robe around it. I don’t do that. That’s up to your government here.”

— President Trump, during a campaign rally in Valdosta, Ga., Dec. 5, 2020

President Trump continued to make baseless accusations of voter fraud on Saturday night, many of which we have already fact-checked. During a campaign rally for GOP senators facing runoff elections in January, he pushed a video he called “proof” of Georgia poll workers illegally stuffing and counting ballots at the State Farm Arena on Election Day. That’s where absentee and military ballots were counted in the state.

The minute-long clip he references — which was uploaded to Trump’s personal YouTube account from an OAN broadcast — is part of longer testimony presented by Trump’s legal team at a hearing Thursday in Georgia.

The footage, which was referenced directly at the rally in support of incumbent Sens. David Purdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), was part of a litany of falsehoods and unsubstantiated claims surrounding Trump’s election loss.

The Facts

The video in question, presented by volunteer Trump campaign attorney Jacki L. Pick, claims to show poll workers actively stuffing ballots from “suitcases” hidden under a table covered by a black cloth.

In a breathless voice, Pick — a major donor to Republicans — claims:

“At about eight o’clock in the morning — we’re going to roll this back and show it to you. There you go. And now they are going to start pulling ballots from under this table. This table, the black one, was placed there by the lady with the blonde braids at about 8:22 in the morning. So she put that table there. … You’ll notice the table’s not here at all. Here it comes. The table going in that we’re talking about where the ballots were obscured. That lady, who is moving it, is the lady with the blonde braids. … So what were these ballots doing there, separate from all the other ballots? And why are they only counting them whenever the place is cleared out with no witnesses … is the question.”

It’s all nonsense.

The surveillance video, which comprises four security camera feeds — shows no irregularities, illegal behavior or evidence of malfeasance on behalf of poll workers. The supposed “suitcases” have been repeatedly identified by election officials as the standard boxes used in Fulton County to transport and store ballots. The video also fails to show any act of hiding or obscuring any ballots or election materials.

Additionally, the video shown doesn’t prove the Trump campaign’s assertion that GOP monitors were told to leave the counting room in order for poll workers to engage in illegal ballot counting.

Georgia voting official Gabriel Sterling told our colleague Amy Gardner that no formal announcement to clear the room was ever made. Sterling added that the full surveillance feed shows workers handling ballots that were stored and processed in full view of the news media and partisan monitors earlier in the evening.

Those earlier moments were caught on tape but weren’t shown by the Trump campaign. Reporters from local NBC affiliate 11 Alive, who were covering the vote and present at the arena, in a report titled “These ‘suitcases’ are actually ballot containers,” have independently confirmed that no one was asked to leave.

An affidavit filed by the chief investigator for the office of the Georgia Secretary of State on Sunday stated that a review of the security footage showed no ballots were placed under the table during the day. When workers thought counting would be stopped for the night, ballots that had been opened but not counted were sealed in boxes and stored under a table, but then they were brought out again when counting continued.

The Pinocchio Test

The video presented by the Trump campaign shows no evidence of illegal behavior or malfeasance and leaves out key context. In his zeal to search for voter fraud where none exists, the president yet again has touted a claim that quickly falls apart. He earns Four Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios

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