Great Britain

Election officials disprove Trump’s viral suitcases of ballots ‘smoking gun’ video

A video Donald Trump’s campaign alleged was “smoking gun” evidence that secret “suitcases” of ballots went counted without observers, has been dismissed by Republican election officials.

Layers for the Trump campaign had claimed in court on Thursday that a surveillance video showed poll workers remove suitcases from underneath a table at the State Farm Arena in Georgia on election night, and count ballots while no observers were present.

Rudy Giuliani, the US president’s personal lawyer, told state legislators the video provided “smoking gun evidence” of election fraud, alongside a witness, Jackie Pick.

Georgia's voting system implementation manager, Gabriel Sterling, said afterwards that the surveillance video provided no evidence that was suspicious, and that there was no wrongdoing.

Speaking to Lead Stories on Thursday, Mr Sterling was one of two Republican election officials in Georgia who denied the Trump campaign’s claims.

Mr Sterling said the suitcases were moved across a room as “normal procedure”, and that there was nothing “odd” about the process, because poll workers were tasked with scanning the ballots once observers and vote counters had left the State Farm Arena.

“If you look at the videotape, the work you see is the work you would expect, which is you take the sealed suitcase, you place the ballots on the scanner in manageable batches and you scan them,” Mr Sterling said.

Frances Watson, the chief investigator for Georgia’s secretary of state, told Lead Stories that Republican and Trump campaign observers were not told to leave, and that the ballots scanned in the surveillance video had already been counted, in contrast to Mr Giuliani and Ms Pick’s assertions.

“Nobody told them to stay. Nobody told them to leave. Nobody gave them any advice on what they should do,” she said. “And it was still open for them or the public to come back in to view at whatever time they wanted to, as long as they were still working.”

Ms Watson added that the ballots put through the scanners amounted to around 10,000, which was less than Joe Biden’s 12,670 vote margin over Mr Trump in the state.

Officials have until noon on Friday to confirm the results of a second recount, according to Mr Sterling, which had come at the request of the Trump campaign.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp, who Mr Trump had criticised for ignoring false claims of election fraud in the state, said on Thursday he supported the president’s calls to conduct an audit of signatures on ballots seen in the surveillance video, in an interview with Fox News.

That power, however, was in the hands of Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, another Republican who Mr Trump has attacked for disputing his claims of election fraud.  

Republicans and Democrats will again go head-to-head in two Senate elections in the state next month, which could decide which party holds power in Congress.  

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