In a searing news conference on Monday, Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia, systematically debunked President Trumpâs false claims of voter fraud. Again.
âThe reason Iâm having to stand here today is because there are people in positions of authority and respect who have said their votes didnât count, and itâs not true,â said Mr. Sterling, a Republican who last month condemned the presidentâs failure to denounce threats against election officials, and who was tasked on Monday with responding to the news of a phone call in which Mr. Trump pressured Georgiaâs secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to âfindâ enough votes to change the outcome of the presidential race.
âItâs anti-disinformation Monday,â Mr. Sterling said. âItâs whack-a-mole again, itâs Groundhog Day again, and Iâm going to talk about things that Iâve talked about repeatedly for two months. Iâm going to do it again one last time. I hope.â
Here is a rundown of the false claims about Georgiaâs vote-counting that Mr. Trump and his lawyers made on the call and in other venues, and Mr. Sterlingâs explanations of what actually happened.
TRUMPâS CLAIM: That, amid the disruption caused by a broken water main at a vote-counting center in Fulton County, election workers brought in âsuitcases or trunksâ of ballots.
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: Late in the evening, after the water main break had been fixed, election workers prepared to go home for the night and followed standard procedures to store ballots securely: placing them in containers and affixing numbered seals. But when Mr. Raffensperger found out that they were closing up shop, he ordered them to continue counting through the night â so the workers retrieved the containers and resumed counting ballots.
âThis is whatâs really frustrating: The presidentâs legal team had the entire tape,â Mr. Sterling said. âThey watched the entire tape. They intentionally misled the State Senate, the voters and the people of the United States about this.â
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: When a scanning machine encounters a problem, it stops, but a few ballots get through while itâs stopping. When that happens, workers take the ballots and scan them again so theyâre counted properly. This is standard procedure, and the ballots arenât counted twice â and if they were, the hand recount Georgia conducted would have shown it.
âThat audit showed that there was no problem with the machine scanning,â Mr. Sterling said. âIf somebody took a stack of ballots and scanned them multiple times, you would have a lot of votes with no corresponding ballots.â
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: The actual number of ballots cast by ineligible voters is minuscule, and nowhere near enough to change the outcome of the election.
Mr. Trump said that thousands of people voted despite not being registered to vote. This is impossible, Mr. Sterling said: âYou canât do it. There cannot be a ballot issued to you, thereâs no way to tie it back to you, thereâs nowhere for them to have a name to correspond back to unless theyâre registered voters. So that number is zero.â
Mr. Trump said that thousands of voters died before the election. Mr. Sterling said the secretary of stateâs office had found only two who might fit that description.
Mr. Trump said that hundreds of people voted using P.O. boxes rather than a residential address. Mr. Sterling said that the secretary of stateâs office was still investigating, but that everyone it had examined so far had, in fact, used a proper residential address â just one for a multifamily residence or apartment building.
Mr. Trumpâs campaign said that many felons voted. In reality, using records from the stateâs corrections and probation departments, the secretary of stateâs office identified only 74 people who might fit that category â and Mr. Sterling said the final number would be even lower once the office completed its investigation, because in many cases, the person might have had their voting rights reinstated after completing a sentence or might simply have the same name as a felon.
Mr. Trumpâs campaign said that tens of thousands of people younger than 18 voted. âThe actual number is zero,â Mr. Sterling said, âand the reason we know that is because the dates are on the voter registration. There are four cases â four â where people requested their absentee ballot before they turned 18, but they turned 18 by Election Day. That means that is a legally cast ballot.â
Mr. Trumpâs campaign said that hundreds of voters cast ballots in two states. Mr. Sterling said that officials were still investigating, but that if any such cases were confirmed, it would be âhandfuls,â and nowhere near enough to change the outcome.
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: If this had happened, Mr. Sterling said, the hand recount would have shown it, and it did not show anything of the sort.
Discussing allegations of hacking, he added that ballot machines and scanners arenât connected to the internet. âNeither one has modems,â Mr. Sterling said. âItâs very hard to hack things without modems.â
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: The secretary of stateâs office brought in signature experts, who examined more than 15,000 mail-in ballot envelopes. They found potential problems with only two, and upon investigation, both ballots turned out to be legitimate.
TRUMPâS CLAIM: That, compared with previous election cycles, Georgia rejected a suspiciously low number of mail-in ballots.
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: The decrease in rejections is attributable to a recently passed law that gives Georgians a chance to correct problems, such as a rejected signature, with their ballots. Both parties had teams roaming the state and contacting voters whose ballots were at risk of rejection, but Mr. Sterling said the Democrats were simply more prepared for the task.
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: âThere is no shredding of ballots going on,â Mr. Sterling said with clear annoyance. âThatâs not real. Itâs not happening.â
Workers did shred secrecy envelopes: the blank envelopes that protect the privacy of a voterâs absentee ballot and go inside an outer envelope. Itâs the outer envelope that voters have to sign, and election officials have kept those outer envelopes as required by law. The secrecy envelopes, however, âhave no evidentiary value,â Mr. Sterling said, because by definition they have no identifying information on them.
TRUMPâS CLAIM: That employees of Dominion Voting Systems âmoved the inner partsâ of voting machines âand replaced them with other parts.â
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: âNo one is changing parts or pieces out of Dominion voting machines. Thatâs not real. I donât even know what that means.â
TRUMPâS CLAIM: That officials improperly counted âpristineâ ballots â meaning ballots that werenât folded, indicating that they hadnât arrived in an envelope.
STERLINGâS EXPLANATION: âPristineâ ballots arenât unusual, Mr. Sterling said. For instance, many military and overseas voters receive electronic ballots that they print out, complete and mail back. But these printed ballots arenât the right size for scanners, so election workers have a standard process for transferring the votes to scannable ballots. A ballot that gets damaged and canât be scanned may be transferred in the same way.
TRUMPâS CLAIM: That Mr. Raffensperger is compromised because he has a brother who works for a Chinese technology company. (Mr. Trump was echoing a conspiracy theory about an unrelated man who happens to be named Ron Raffensperger.)
News – A Georgia election official debunked Trumpâs claims of voter fraud, point by point.