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A Georgia election worker examines ballots at State Farm Arena Nov. 5, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP) A Georgia election worker examines ballots at State Farm Arena Nov. 5, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP)

A Georgia election worker examines ballots at State Farm Arena Nov. 5, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman May 27, 2021

Claim that Georgia decertified the election is a Pants on Fire falsehood

If Your Time is short

  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, certified the presidential election results in November affirming Joe Biden’s win. He has not sought to undo that process.
  • A judge in May granted a request by a group of plaintiffs seeking to inspect absentee ballots cast in the general election in Fulton County. The plaintiffs allege wrongful counting of fraudulent ballots.
  • The judge’s order does not call for a new election or any attempt at decertification. 

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state certified the presidential election results in November showing that Joe Biden won the state. But six months later, a state judge’s order authorizing an inspection of absentee ballots has inspired a fresh round of falsehoods about the Georgia election.

"Boom! Georgia 1st to decertify election," stated a May 25 Facebook post.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The Facebook post is wrong: Georgia officials have not decertified the election.

A few days before the Facebook post, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero issued an order that allows a group of plaintiffs, led by a self-proclaimed election watchdog, to inspect and scan the general election absentee ballots cast in Democratic-leaning Fulton County.

Precisely what this will entail isn’t yet known. Amero indicated he will issue a subsequent order about protocols. Plaintiffs have alleged improper counting of ballots and the existence of "counterfeit" ballots. Amero’s ruling has been embraced by Republicans who have sided with former President Donald Trump’s falsehoods about the election. 

One of the plaintiffs, Garland Favorito, is a longtime critic of Georgia’s election infrastructure. Favorito has 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. 

"The purpose of the inspection is to find the truth about the Fulton mail-in ballots so that all Georgians will have the assurance of elections transparency," Favorito told PolitiFact.

The Facebook post links to a video by Christian Patriot News, a conservative outlet. The speaker in the video predicts "Judge Amero will demand that Gov. Kemp will call a special session to decertify these election results. Boom!" 

Featured Fact-check

But none of that has happened. Amero’s two-paragraph order did not call for any sort of decertification, scrapping of results, or special legislative session.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the results of the presidential election in November following an audit that reaffirmed Biden’s victory. Congress counted the electoral votes from the states including Georgia on Jan. 6.

Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, have repeatedly said they found no evidence of systematic voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Lawsuits filed on behalf of former President Donald Trump and his allies seeking to decertify the election results were rejected by the courts.

Raffensperger’s office indicated that he hasn’t sought to decertify the election, and there is no such legal process. 

"There is no mechanism under Georgia law to decertify an election," said Bryan P. Tyson, a Georgia election lawyer who has represented both Democrats and Republicans, including Raffensperger. "If they find problems in an election after it was certified, the only remedy to the election contest is a judge hears evidence and orders a new election if there were enough problems that it could have changed the results. It is rare."

Our ruling

A Facebook post said Georgia decertified its election results.

That didn’t happen. A judge in Georgia permitted plaintiffs in an election lawsuit to inspect absentee ballots cast in Fulton County, but didn’t order a new election. And there is no evidence that state officials have decertified the election results. 

Boom! We rate this Pants on Fire! 

RELATED: Here’s why Georgia’s Republican officials are confident in their presidential election results

Our Sources

Telephone interview, Bryan P. Tyson, partner at Taylor English law firm, May 26, 2021

Telephone interview, Halsey Knapp, partner at Krevolin Horst law firm, May 26, 2021

Telephone interview, Matthew Blakely, spokesperson for Robb Pitt, chairman of Fulton County Board of Commissioners, May 26, 2021

Email interview, Garland Favorito, a plaintiff in a case seeking to inspect Fulton County absentee ballots, May 26, 2021

Georgia Public Radio, What Is Happening With Fulton County's Absentee Ballots? May 25, 2021

Georgia Public Radio reporter Stephen Fowler, Tweet, May 25, 2021

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia headed toward yet another presidential election review, May 21, 2021

New York Times, Long After Trump’s Loss, a Push to Inspect Ballots Persists, May 24, 2021

Washington Post, In echo of Arizona, Georgia state judge orders Fulton County to allow local voters to inspect mailed ballots cast last fall, May 21, 2021

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Tweet, May 21, 2021

Office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Statement to PolitiFact, May 26, 2021

Superior Court of Fulton County, Brief by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, April 2, 2021

Youtube, Fulton County Nov. 3rd Ballot Access FOIA Hearing Part 6, May 21, 2021

CNN Wire, Arizona and Georgia audits move forward as Republicans continue to push election fraud lies, May 24, 2021

ABC News, It's not just Arizona: Push to review 2020 ballots spreads, May 25, 2021

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Claim that Georgia decertified the election is a Pants on Fire falsehood

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