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Georgia election officials refute claims made about viral video with 'suitcases' of ballots

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Officials say everything in the video looks like normal election procedure

TAMI CHAPPELL/AFP via Getty Images

The Georgia secretary of state's office on Friday reportedly said they've investigated claims of voter fraud made in a viral video shared by the Trump campaign and others, and found that the claims were not true.

According to Fox News, senior officials in Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office have investigated and debunked claims that Fulton County election officials illegally counted ballots without poll watcher supervision.

The Trump campaign and various political commentators and media figures on Thursday claimed that video footage taken by security cameras showed "suitcases filled with ballots" being counted at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Nov. 3 after election supervisors were told to leave the room. The video was first presented as part of testimony from the Trump campaign at an election integrity hearing held by state lawmakers. Those that testified were not asked to swear under oath.

The narrator of the video is Jackie Pick, an attorney who said she was not acting as a lawyer for the Trump campaign but rather presented testimony as a volunteer. She claimed that the video showed "four people" staying behind to count "suitcases" of ballots after "Republican observers and the press" were told to leave. Trump's legal team asserts that something fraudulent or nefarious may have occurred while these ballots were allegedly counted without supervision and at the very least complains that what occurred in the video was against protocols established by Georgia state election law.

An official from Raffensperger's office told Fox News an investigation showed these claims were unfounded. According to the official, Fulton County election officials had a designated observer watching the votes being counted the entire time. Additionally, the official said there was nothing suspicious about the "suitcases" of ballots that were pulled out from beneath a table and that those cases on video are the cases ballots were supposed to be kept in.

TheBlaze has contacted the Georgia secretary of state's office requesting comment on Fox News' reporting.

Other Georgia officials have stated on the record that the claims made about the video were false.

Gabriel Sterling, a Republican in charge of implementing Georgia's voting system, told Lead Stories that nothing in the video appeared "bizarre or odd" and that what is seen looks like normal election procedure. He disputed allegations that Republican poll watchers were told vote counting had ended and they were to go home.

He explained that the election workers who went home are known as "cutters," because their job was to open absentee ballot envelopes and verify ballots for eventual scanning and counting. He said they were dismissed sometime after 10 p.m. on Nov. 3, as shown in the video, because their work for the evening had been finished. The four workers who remained behind were responsible for scanning the ballots.

"If you look at the video tape, the work you see is the work you would expect, which is you take the sealed suitcase looking things in, you place the ballots on the scanner in manageable batches and you scan them," Sterling told Lead Stories.

The chief investigator for the Georgia secretary of state, Frances Watson, also spoke to Lead Stories and he said that the "suitcases" seen in the video were standard containers.

"There wasn't a bin that had ballots in it under that table," Watson explained. "It was an empty bin and the ballots from it were actually out on the table when the media were still there, and then it was placed back into the box when the media were still there and placed next to the table."

Watson said that there was never an announcement made to the media or to partisan election observers about the counting being done for the night or telling them to go home.

TheBlaze has previously reported that Fulton County officials explicitly denied that anyone from the Trump campaign was ever told vote counting was finished for the night. Multiple requests made to the Trump campaign for response were unanswered.

Additionally, Lead Stories obtained comments from the state election board monitor who was present for the vote counting on Nov. 3. He explained that at no point was the ballot counting unobserved by elections officials, as Pick and others have claimed:

A state election board monitor, who asked for his name not to be used due to safety concerns, told Lead Stories on the phone on December 3, 2020, that he was present at the vote counting location beginning at 11:52 p.m., after leaving briefly at earlier in the evening. He then stayed until about 12:45 a.m., when the work that night was completed.

The deputy chief investigator for the secretary of state's office was present beginning at 12:15 a.m. November 4, he said.

Georgia officials are responding to other "concerning" allegations made during Thursday's testimony.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday called on the secretary of state to conduct a signature audit of absentee ballots to verify the election results.

However, a signature audit presents difficulties because when absentee votes are first counted on Election Day, they are separated from the signed envelopes they came in, WXIA-TV explained. To preserve the secrecy of ballots, ballots are not signed by voters, just the envelopes they are delivered in. So there is no way to retroactively match votes that have already been counted with the signatures of the voters who sent those ballots.

The Georgia secretary of state's office has not yet responded to the governor's request.

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