A number of Republican officials have raised questions about the vote count in Fulton County, Georgia, after reports surfaced last week indicating that some counting occurred after observers for the Donald Trump campaign left the counting facility. TheBlaze has heard from county officials who have provided their explanation for how things came to pass in Fulton County on that night.
In a Monday tweet that was retweeted by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer blasted the county for the move.
👀👀 https://t.co/5KDthS9FmK— Rep. Doug Collins (@Rep. Doug Collins)1604969623.0
Some aspects of this story have been admitted by the county to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fulton County election head Richard Barron told the paper that his staff had been working "long hours" throughout the day and that he sent the "vast majority" of them home at 10:30 p.m. because the number of them was "counter-productive."
According to the county, about five staff members stayed behind until 1 a.m. to finish "final processing" of some ballots. TheBlaze has reached out to Fulton County officials about what this "final processing" entailed, but had not received an answer to this question as of publication, nor has the county yet answered exactly how many ballots were processed after 10:30 p.m.
According to the Journal-Constitution, the county concedes that it originally told people that the counting would stop at 10:30 p.m. However, due to "backlash internally and externally" about potential delays, they decided to continue counting in order to ensure more votes could be reported. However, Barron determined that keeping his full staff present for the "final processing" of ballots would be "counter-productive," so he sent the bulk of them (all but five) home. Barron conceded to the Journal-Constitution that when this wave of staffers left, the Trump campaign observers likely erroneously concluded that the counting process was done for the evening.
However, a spokesperson for the county explicitly denied to TheBlaze that anyone from the county ever told the Trump campaign that counting was done for the night. The spokesperson directly contradicted Shafer's claims, saying, "no one from the staff spoke to anyone observing the process to inform them that things were done for the night."
TheBlaze reached out to the Trump campaign for a response to this allegation, and asked for the campaign to identify and/or provide contact information for anyone who was allegedly told that the counting was finished, and did not receive a response.
According to the same spokesperson, the final processing of votes was observed by someone from the secretary of state's office, who was there to witness as a "state observer." The spokesperson was not able to provide a name for this individual.
Still, Barron conceded to the Journal-Constitution that this may have given the GOP reason to have concern that their observers were not welcome, which he called a "mistake," and said that the GOP was welcome to observe. Fulton County officials did not immediately respond to an inquiry about to what extent the GOP would be welcome to observe a re-do of whatever process they did not observe, but it is important to note that in the highly likely event of a recount in Georgia, Trump campaign observers will, in fact, be allowed to witness the counting of whatever ballots they may have missed in Fulton County on election night.