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A worker at the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections works to process absentee ballots at the State Farm Arena, Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP) A worker at the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections works to process absentee ballots at the State Farm Arena, Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP)

A worker at the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections works to process absentee ballots at the State Farm Arena, Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher July 19, 2021

No proof of thousands of double-counted ballots in 2020 presidential race in Ga.

If Your Time is short

  • Some 200 ballots in the 2020 presidential election initially were double-counted in Fulton County, where heavily Democratic Atlanta is located. But the double-count, once identified, didn’t change the official result of Biden defeating Trump in Georgia.

  • There’s no evidence of thousands of double-counts.

In a continuing attempt to portray Fulton County, Ga., as a haven for fraud and malfeasance in the 2020 presidential election, a new allegation asserts that thousands of the same ballots were counted multiple times in the county where heavily Democratic Atlanta is located.

One tweet claims the counts benefited Joe Biden, who defeated Donald Trump in Georgia, a key swing state, by about 12,000 votes.

"Why is it that errors seem to only ever go one way?" the tweet asked. "VoterGA says 4,255 ballots in Fulton County, Georgia were scanned multiple times. Of those duplicate ballots, 3,390 went to Biden."

Claims of the multiple counting of the same ballots in Fulton County were also made on Facebook. And Trump, also citing the VoterGA group, issued a statement making allegations, including fraud, in the county’s ballot counting.

The tweet was highlighted to PolitiFact by Vinesight, a company that monitors online misinformation.

Citing a history of election mismanagement in Fulton County, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on July 15 called for the firing of two of the county’s top election officials. 

But there is no evidence of double-counting that would have given Biden anywhere near the number of extra votes being claimed. The double-counting that VoterGA claims it found were in what is known as a risk-limiting audit — a hand recount of the vote. After that, a second recount was done. 

Statewide, the original count plus the two recounts all confirmed Biden’s victory in Georgia

The group claiming the double counting

Voter GA, also known as Voters Organized for Trusted Election Results in Georgia, says it advocates for "verifiable auditable recount capable and transparent elections." It is led by Garland Favorito who, with others, filed a lawsuit seeking a review of the Fulton County’s general-election absentee ballots in the 2020 election. 

A longtime critic of Georgia’s election infrastructure, Favorito has promoted conspiracy theories about 9/11 and other topics, according to Georgia Public Radio, the New York Times and the Associated Press. He has also promoted affidavits signed by poll workers or observers in which they leap to conclusions about the integrity of absentee ballots, suggesting they weren’t properly marked or weren’t printed on normal paper. 

On July 13, Favorito and the group issued a news release that makes allegations of fraud and other election malfeasance in Fulton County, including the allegation referenced in the tweet. The group claimed it "found at least 36 batches of mail-in ballots with 4,255 total extra votes were redundantly added into Fulton County audit results for the November election. These illicit votes include 3,390 extra votes for Joe Biden, 865 extra votes for Donald Trump and 43 extra votes for Jo Jorgenson," the Libertarian candidate. 

At a news conference on July 13, businessman David Cross, who is helping Favorito, displayed digital images of several ballots that he said shows ballots were scanned twice. Side by side, the ballots appeared to be identical, but contained different markings that Cross said indicated they were scanned more than once.

Cross sent PolitiFact, and posted online, information that he said supports the Voter GA’s claim. He went further, claiming that he had found 6,415 extra votes counted in the risk-limiting audit, with an extra 5,128 going to Biden and 1,188 to Trump. 

What’s been found

On the same day of the tweet, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the people who filed the lawsuit discovered that nearly 200 Fulton County ballots had been scanned twice. The newspaper said it confirmed the double-counting by reviewing digital images of the ballots; the story included a link to the images. 

However, the double-counting was discovered in a recount and there is no indication Biden earned any additional votes in the official results, the newspaper said. The ballots counted twice would have given Biden 31 extra votes. After a recount, official results reflected that Trump gained a total of 121 absentee votes in Fulton. Biden won the county with 73% of 524,000 votes cast, the story said.

As we’ve reported, two recounts confirmed Biden won Georgia.

In all, the roughly 5 million ballots cast in Georgia were counted three times, including once by hand. The hand recount uncovered more than 2,600 uncounted votes, most of which favored Trump, in Floyd County, Ga. But election officials said the mistake was due to human error, not voter fraud. In the end, the certified results showed Biden beating Trump by 11,779 votes in the state. 

Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said: "Given that these ballots were all recounted by hand, there is no chance that a large number of ballots were double counted."

University of West Georgia political scientist Thomas Hunter said none of the information provided by Voter GA proves that votes in the official certified results were counted twice. 

The official certified results were taken from the second recount, which was requested by the Trump campaign, he said. Even if some ballots were counted twice during the risk-limiting audit, he said, "those numbers are not included in the official results. The official results are from the last recount, which was done by scanning all of the ballots. The results in the official count from Fulton County match quite closely to what the initial count showed."

Hunter added: "Any large-scale mistakes would have been found through the two recounts."

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office referred questions to Fulton County. A Fulton County spokeswoman declined comment, citing the lawsuit.

Our ruling

A tweet says that in the 2020 presidential election, "4,255 ballots in Fulton County, Georgia, were scanned multiple times" and "3,390 went to Biden."

Some 200 ballots initially were double-counted in Fulton County, where heavily Democratic Atlanta is located — but there’s no evidence of thousands, and the double-count didn’t change the official result of Biden defeating Trump in Georgia.

We rate the claim False.

Our Sources

Twitter, tweet, July 13, 2021

Twitter, tweet of July 14, 2021 Donald Trump statement, July 14, 2021  

VoterGA, news release, July 13, 2021

Text messages, VoterGA co-founder Garland Favorito, July 16, 2021

Email, VoterGA leader David Cross, July 17, 2021

Email, Alan Abramowitz, political science professor at Emory University, July 16, 2021

Email, University of West Georgia political scientist Thomas Hunter, July 16, 2021

PolitiFact, "Here’s why Georgia’s Republican officials are confident in their presidential election results," Jan. 5, 2021

Email, Fulton County spokesperson Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez, July 14, 2021  

Email, Georgia Secretary of State spokesperson Ari Schaffer, July 14, 2021

YouTube, VoterGA news conference (35:00), July 13, 2021

Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Some ballots initially double-counted in Fulton before recount," July 13, 2021

Rumble, "Fulton County Counted The Same Ballots Multiple Times," July 13, 2021

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More by Tom Kertscher

No proof of thousands of double-counted ballots in 2020 presidential race in Ga.

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