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An Atlanta news station purports to have “debunked” the viral Election Day surveillance footage that President Donald Trump’s campaign claimed earlier this week shows potential voter fraud and impropriety in Georgia.
Shown by the campaign during a Georgia Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, the footage allegedly depicted election supervisors in Fulton County booting poll workers and then suspiciously pulling out “suitcases” and continuing to count more ballots themselves for an hour without anybody monitoring their activities.
After being shown Thursday, the footage went viral and piqued even the attention of Georgia Gov. Georgia Kemp, who delivered a statement on Fox News later that evening calling for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to initiate a signature audit.
Yet in a report published Friday evening, Atlanta station WSB claimed the video shows nothing improper. To prove this thesis, the station cited remarks from Raffensperger’s underlings, including lead investigator Frances Watson and election official Gabriel Sterling.
For starters, Watson said the suitcases were ballot containers and that ulterior purposes weren’t to account for them being placed under the table seen in the surveillance footage and then retrieved only minutes later.
“At 10 p.m., with the room full of people, including official monitors and the media, video shows ballots that had already been opened but not counted placed in the boxes, sealed up and stored under the table. The reason? Employees thought they were done for the night,” WSB reported.
“They were closing things up and getting ready to leave,” Watson said.
The now-viral surveillance footage shows what happened next: After poll “monitors” and media members left, suddenly the remaining people pulled the “suitcases” (or ballot boxes) out from underneath the table.
It’s this seemingly inexplicable behavior that triggered accusations of voter fraud and impropriety. But according to WSB, there’s a valid reason for it.
“Fulton’s election director called a supervisor at State Farm a few minutes later, telling them to keep counting after the Secretary of State’s office called and said they shouldn’t stop counting for the night so early. After that call, employees pulled the containers of ballots back out and went back to work,” the station reported.
Speaking with the station, Sterling said, “No magically-appearing ballots. These were ballots that were processed in front of the monitors and placed there in front of the monitors.”
The ballots were processed by the remaining people for an hour, after which the folks who’d left earlier returned and normal counting resumed. Asked about this time gap, Sterling again dismissed it as normal behavior given the circumstances.
“These are just typical everyday election workers are just doing their jobs. This is not some Ocean’s Eleven-level scheme being put together in the middle of the night,” he said.
Watson added that the evidence makes it clear that there was no actual wrongdoing.
Around the same time that WSB published its report, the president tweeted a Newsmax video showing one of the conservative network’s hosts suggesting the exact opposite.
Host Grant Stinchfield said it seems clear the video shows “what appears to be Atlanta, Georgia ballot counters being told to leave the counting room.”
“And then a short time later with no observers, no media, hidden cases of possible ballots are rolled out from under a table. Four people under a cloud of suspicion begin what looks an awfully lot like ballot stuffing,” he added.
Stinchfield also pushed back on the claim from multiple Georgia election officials that the monitors and media members hadn’t been ordered to leave — that they’d left voluntarily because they’d thought that their job was done.
“The Trump team has sworn witness testimony claiming an announcement was most certainly made. In fact, even CNN reported that the counting was being shut down due to a water main break that even election administrators now acknowledge was a leaky toilet,” he said.
“So somebody had to tell those people to leave. And if you look at this tape, there are ballots open and ready for counting. Now watch as they get packed up. Why would you need to secure them, and then ultimately take out the mysterious ballots from under the table to start counting? It just doesn’t add up.”
Indeed, even Dr. Kathleen Ruth, a member of the Fulton County Board of Elections, has expressed bewilderment over what happened, reportedly saying, “It is interesting that these ballots were under a table versus being in the open.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, the president’s campaign launched a new lawsuit demanding that Georgia either throw out the 2020 presidential election results and schedule a new election or allow the state’s GOP-led legislature to pick its electors.
Also, a poll emerged Friday showing that a 53.2 percent majority of Georgia voters believe the state’s elections “were compromised enough to change the outcome.”
Our @trafalgar_group #GASen #Runoff #Polls also shed some light on Georgia voters opinions of whether the #Presidential elections were compromised enough to change the outcome. All voters 53.2% yes, 37.9% no, 8.9% unsure. GOP voters 74.6% yes, 15.9% no, 9.5% unsure.
— Robert C. Cahaly (@RobertCahaly) December 4, 2020
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