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Fulton County 2020 election problems, now confirmed, challenge media fact-checkers

The AP's "fact-check" admitted that the county’s audit of the 2020 presidential race found errors, inconsistencies, and double counting of ballots. Then the AP added without citation that "the errors weren’t enough to alter the election results." Who will guard the guards themselves?

Published: May 10, 2024 11:03pm

Updated: May 10, 2024 11:21pm

Media fact-checks have asserted that the 2020 presidential election in Georgia didn’t have serious irregularities. But more evidence regarding Fulton County’s handling of ballots and signature verification appear to challenge those claims. 

Numerous issues have been documented regarding the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, specifically in Fulton County. The media repeatedly "fact-checked" these irregularities, despite confirmation of the issues by election officials. This has resulted in former President Donald Trump and other Republicans who raised concerns about election irregularities often being labeled “election deniers” by Democrats and the media.

Georgia election officials have recently confirmed issues that occurred in Fulton County amid the November 2020 election, resulting in more oversight for the 2024 general election.

The Georgia State Election Board said on Tuesday that they found Fulton County had likely scanned more than 3,000 ballots twice during the 2020 presidential election recount, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

State officials said it is not clear whether the votes were actually counted twice in the recount, which was the official election result, or if they were just scanned twice.

The state board voted to require Fulton County to hire an independent monitor in a 2-1 vote on Tuesday, which ended one of the last probes into the results of the 2020 election.

Fulton County said it has implemented multiple changes since the 2020 election in order to make sure the vote counting is safe and legitimate going forward.

“Fulton County’s performance during the 2020 elections has been exhaustively scrutinized, but the results, confirmed by three different counts, have not changed. Nor has there been any evidence of fraud or malfeasance,” county spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said. “Since the 2020 election, Fulton County has hired a new director, implemented numerous procedural updates and invested in a new elections headquarters. It has conducted six elections, and independent monitors have noted improvement.”

Board member Ed Lindsey said he voted for the reprimand instead of a more serious punishment because he was focused on making sure future elections were secure rather than focusing on previous elections. He also threatened to open an investigation into the county in July if they do not hire a monitor for the November election.

“There is clear evidence that in 2020 there were numerous violations of regulations and statutes, and the county has acknowledged that,” Lindsey said. “My purpose here is not to let it ride but to move this matter forward so we can have some assurances going into the 2024 election.”

Last November, The Associated Press fact-checked a court filing from June that mentioned there were 3,600 duplicate ballots in Fulton County in 2020, claiming it was “Missing context” because while there was “some double counting of ballots,” and asserting the “errors weren’t enough to alter the election results.”

In January 2021, PolitiFact also fact-checked claims about the 2020 election recount in Georgia, asserting that “The hand recount showed ballots were handled properly” and there weren’t issues with ballots being scanned multiple times.

Another issue in Fulton County from the 2020 presidential election was that no signature verification of absentee ballots took place.

In April, Mark Wingate, a Republican who served on the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections (BRE) through the 2020 election until last year, said that the county didn’t perform signature verification on absentee ballots, according to The Georgia Star News.

“I asked, ‘What did we do for signature verification?’ And the comment I got back frankly floored me, ‘We didn’t do any,'” he said, adding that the verification wasn’t conducted because the platform Fulton County was using for the electronic process didn’t work.

Wingate mentioned the election integrity failure during his testimony last month in the disbarment trial of Donald Trump’s former DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark.

The former BRE board member had previously sworn in an affidavit in July 2023 that “The Board was told that Fulton County did not perform any signature verification on any absentee-by-mail ballot in the 2020 election.”

During his testimony last month, Wingate said that he voted against certifying the 2020 election twice because of the irregularities, including there being more voters on the county’s active rolls than eligible voters.

Wingate also noted, “I and other board members had requested that we obtain the chain of custody documentation from the department and none of that was ever delivered.”

He said that the board also never received the requested surveillance footage of drop boxes from the county.

According to PolitiFact’s 2021 fact-check, “Georgia election workers verified signatures twice as they processed ballots,” which contradicts Wingate’s assertion that Fulton County didn’t verify absentee ballot signatures.

Other issues during the 2020 presidential election in Fulton County have also been documented.

The state’s handpicked election monitor for the county documented two dozen pages of mismanagement and irregularities during vote counting in Atlanta in November 2020, including double-scanning of ballots, insecure transport of ballots, and violations of voter privacy.

According to the official election results in Georgia, Biden beat Trump by 11,779 votes in the 2020 presidential election.

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