Georgia Secretary of State's office investigating early departure of Atlanta ballot monitors
"We want to make certain they were not misled," said a spokesman for the department's voter education division.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
The Georgia Secretary of State's office is investigating whether or not a group of ballot monitors in Atlanta were misled into leaving their posts early during ballot-counting on Election Night.
During a Georgia state senate hearing on Thursday, President Trump's legal team revealed security footage from Atlanta's State Farm Arena depicting ballot-counting that occurred there late into Election Night and early into the next morning. The footage, a Trump team lawyer alleged, depicted poll monitors being dismissed from their posts late at night, after which ballot-counting appears to resume, with workers appearing to pull ballots from "suitcases" found under a table.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State's voter education division, confirmed to Just the News that the Secretary of State's office "was aware that Fulton County scanning had continued during the period captured in the video presented at the Senate hearing."
"We have launched an investigation into why the monitors from the political parties left before scanning ended," Jones said. "While it was their right to leave early, we want to make certain they were not misled into thinking scanning had stopped for the night when it had not."
'Suitcases' were secure containers, official says
A spokesman in the Secretary of State's office offered further information on the goings-on apparently depicted in the footage.
"One of the things that was micharacterized about that video was that they said, 'Well, these suitcases were pulled out from under the table,'" the spokesman said. "Well, we had record [voter] turnout. And so the ballots had to be put somewhere so people could walk around."
"So there was no mystery," he continued. "These were actually secured containers that were used in a lot of jurisdictions for transporting ballots. Our folks, officials, they knew they were under that piece of furniture. It was not pulled out of the dark when nobody was looking."
Regina Waller, a spokeswoman for Fulton County, told Just the News that county officials "saw these videos for the first time yesterday when they were shown during the hearing."
"The claims made yesterday were ... debunked by the Georgia Secretary of State's office," she said. "Their monitor can be clearly seen in the videos, and an investigator has also reviewed the matter."
Waller did not respond when asked to clarify which aspect of the videos she was referring to that had purportedly been "debunked."
Waller also pointed Just the News to remarks made by Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron during a county Board of Registration and Elections meeting on Friday.
"The staff at State Farm that evening, they began letting certain people go, no announcement was ever made to leave, for anyone to leave," Barron said during the meeting. "Certain staff that were on the cutting stations, that were on the flattening stations, that were extracting from the inner envelopes, those staff left as work completed."
Barron in the meeting said that he "found out sometime, I think a little after 10:30, that they were going to cease operations, and I told them not to do that." He said media were present in the room until shortly after 11:00 p.m.
The spokesman in the Secretary of State's office, who asked not to be named, said further that state Secretary Brad Raffensperger recently announced that the state has "250 investigations ongoing" into voter fraud allegations.
"We're asking anyone that has credible firsthand evidence to bring it to us," he said. "We want to know. Raffensperger has no tolerance for election fraud."
"Now, will all 250 of [the investigations] turn into convictions?" he continued. "Probably not. I suspect some of them may be misunderstandings. It's not necessarily fraud."
"Every lead we've pursued, we still haven't seen any evidence of widespread fraud," he said, adding that the Secretary of State's office presently does not believe that the video footage is "the smoking gun that some people think it might be."
The Trump campaign did not immediately return requests for comment on the responses to the video footage.