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When Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., lost a runoff in January 2021 to Democrat Jon Ossoff, he conceded days later. But now, as Perdue runs against Gov. Brian Kemp in the primary, he has echoed former President Donald Trump’s falsehoods about “stolen” elections.
State officials in Georgia – Republicans – certified the results of the 2020 presidential election and the 2021 Senate runoffs.
The presidential election results in Georgia were counted three times, and each showed Biden won.
Days after Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., lost his race against Jon Ossoff in January 2021, he conceded. But now as the Trump-backed candidate in the governor’s race, Perdue has a different account of what happened in his own race.
"Most people in Georgia know that something untoward happened in November 2020," David Perdue told conservative radio host Brian Pritchard March 25. "I’ll just say it, Brian. In my election and the president’s election, they were stolen. The evidence is compelling now."
What was his "compelling" evidence? Perdue suggested that a judge found merit in a case filed by plaintiffs seeking to inspect ballots in Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold. But the case, filed after the presidential election, was ultimately dismissed by the judge.
In his primary battle against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, Perdue is running on a campaign of echoing Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election. The Republican winner will face off May 24 and the winner will face Democrat Stacey Abrams.
Perdue said the evidence is "compelling" of stolen elections. It isn’t.
It would involve an improbable massive felonious conspiracy for multiple election officials to break the law and steal an election on behalf of a candidate. The argument also fails to explain how a scheme to elect Biden and Ossoff would allow Republicans to win House seats, including Andrew Clyde and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
We contacted a spokesperson for the Perdue campaign to ask for his evidence that the presidential and Senate runoffs were stolen and did not get a response.
The presidential election in Georgia, where Biden won by about 12,000 votes, was not stolen. Democrats had been making inroads in recent years in Georgia, a state with an increasingly diverse electorate. Trump, who had to defend his record amid a pandemic, lost.
Courts rejected lawsuits filed on Trump’s behalf, including the U.S. Supreme Court which declined to review a case that alleged Georgia and other states exploited the pandemic to make election procedure changes.
The presidential election was counted three times by Georgia, and the results each time showed that Biden won. Republican statewide election officials said that they found no evidence of systematic voter fraud. State officials certified the results on Nov. 20, 2020.
When the state’s top elections official, Brad Raffensperger, certified the results, he said that "numbers don’t lie."
"As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct. The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state's office or of courts or of either campaign."
Evidence of fraud in Georgia is so isolated that it would not have changed the outcome of the election. The AP found that officials in 24 Georgia counties identified 64 potential voter fraud cases, representing 0.54% of Biden’s margin of victory. Of those, about half were determined to be an administrative error or mistake. The AP found similarly small numbers of potential fraud cases in other battleground states.
The state elections board in Georgia referred 35 cases to prosecutors in February 2021, including four to the attorney general. Of those four, three were settled administratively and one remains pending.
Some allegations remain under investigation. In Georgia, it is illegal to collect and submit multiple mail ballots. True the Vote, a conservative group, has alleged ballot harvesting. Last year, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed on the allegation, but the group has since said it has a witness.
It has yet to reveal who that is.The State Election Board voted March 16 to issue subpoenas to the group, to obtain the name of their witness.
In the Jan. 5, 2021, Senate runoff race, Democrat Jon Ossoff won about 50.6% of the vote while Perdue won 49.4%. (Democrat Raphael Warnock also beat Republican Kelly Loeffler.)
Perdue conceded three days later. "I want to congratulate the Democratic Party and my opponent for this runoff win," he said.
The runoff was not within the 0.5% threshold to merit a statewide recount.
On Jan. 19, 2021, Raffensperger certified the results, affirming that the returns "are a true and correct tabulation of the certified returns received by this office from each county." Kemp also had to sign off on the certification.
Analyses by reporters at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and by Georgia Public Radio found that Ossoff beat Perdue with strong turnout among Black voters. Ossoff ran TV ads showing how the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately hurt Black Americans and showing his support for racial justice protests.
The only evidence Perdue cited during the radio interview pertained to a court case filed after the presidential election. The lawsuit does not prove that the election was stolen.
Garland Favorito, a longtime critic of Georgia’s election infrastructure, filed a motion in December 2020 claiming fraudulent mail ballots had been counted in Fulton County. Favorito sought to inspect the ballots.
Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero issued an order May 21 to unseal the ballots but he later dismissed the case saying that the voters who filed the case lacked standing.
State officials investigated the lawsuit’s allegations of counterfeit ballots and found they lacked evidence.
That’s not to say the elections in Fulton County were smooth. A consultant in 2021 found that Fulton County elections had "myriad problems" with the processing of absentee ballots, such as failing to sufficiently protect rejected ballots in the mail room. But the consultant found no "dishonesty, fraud, or intentional malfeasance."
Perdue filed a case in December similar to the dismissed lawsuit seeking to inspect the ballots. The case remains pending.
Republicans seeking inspections of ballots in Democratic or battleground jurisdictions has become part of the strategy of Trump allies who make allegations of voter fraud. While such quests for ballot reviews have not changed any outcomes, they have added fuel to the efforts by state Republican lawmakers to pass new restrictive voting laws.
Perdue says his 2021 Georgia Senate runoff and the 2020 presidential election "were stolen."
Perdue lacks evidence that either contest was stolen. He is mimicking the evidence-free claims by Trump and his allies about the presidential election, and now extending them to his own loss even though he conceded last year.
Courts have rejected lawsuits alleging election wrongdoing and state election officials in Georgia — Republicans — said the presidential election was secure. State officials for both contests certified the results which showed that Biden beat Trump and that Perdue lost to Ossoff. The elections of 2020 and January 2021 in Georgia are over, and they were not stolen — they were won by Democrats.
We rate this statement Pants on Fire.
RELATED: Fact-checks about Georgia
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Greg Bluestein, Tweet, March 25, 2022
Fox 5 Atlanta, Fox News Poll: Kemp shows wider lead over Perdue in GOP primary race for governor, March 8, 2022
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kemp presses Perdue to quit race amid ‘lackluster’ fundraising, Feb. 9, 2022
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Inside the runoff flips: How Ossoff and Warnock pulled off epic victories, Jan. 9, 2021
Politico, Results of Georgia Senate runoff, January 2021
Stephen Fowler, Twitter thread of Trump rally in Georgia, March 16, 2022
Georgia Public Radio, Who Stayed Home More In Georgia's Senate Runoffs? Rural White Republicans, April 22, 2021
Georgia Public Radio, GBI says GOP's cellphone data lacks enough evidence to prove ballot harvesting, Oct. 22, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Perdue welcomes Trump to Georgia by embracing ‘stolen’ election lie, March 26, 2022
AP, Trump returns to Georgia confronting test of his grip on GOP, March 26, 2022
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Judge’s ruling hinders push for Fulton ballot review, June 25, 2021
AP, Investigators: No evidence of Fulton County ballot fraud, Oct. 12, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Greg Bluestein, Flipped: How Georgia Turned Purple and Broke the Monopoly on Republican Power, March 22, 2022
Georgia Secretary of State, State Election Board Refers Voter Fraud Cases for Prosecution, Feb. 11, 2021
Email interview, Bryan P. Tyson, Taylor English Duma LLP, March 28, 2022
Email interview, Ari Schaffer, spokesperson for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, March 28, 2022
Telephone interview, Don Samuel, lawyer representing Fulton County election officials, March 28, 2022
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