On late November 3rd, poll workers in Fulton County, Georgia heard that they could go home for the night. So they packed countless ballot papers in suitcases and prepared for the evening.
When it became known that they could not go yet, they pulled the suitcases out and started counting the ballots again.
This unique scene – of workers taking out suitcases with votes – was then selectively edited and shared as a conspiracy theory by President Trump's allies, which poll workers pulled out fraudulent ballots under the cover of the night. According to the theory, these suitcases helped ensure that the Georgian electoral college voted for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
But on Monday, Georgia's State Secretary devoted part of a morning press conference to exposing this lie and many others, which was dubbed "Disinformation Monday". Gabriel Sterling, Georgia Voting Implementation Manager and Republican, said at the press conference that viewing all of the election day surveillance footage showed workers packed suitcases first with valid, uncounted ballot papers and later unpacked the same ballot papers. They didn't take out suitcases full of counterfeit ballot papers, he said.
“The reason they were put away is because they had the misunderstood impression that they were going home. When you find yourself watching the videos, they put these things together at 10:30 a.m., ”Mr. Sterling said.
He went through a list of other misinformation circulated about the Georgia elections and reprimanded the unsubstantiated claims. Conspiracy theories are rife in the state, which will also hold runoff elections for its two Senate seats on Jan. 5.
Speaking of rumors that a "water main break" damaged the ballots and balance sheet in Fulton County on election day, Sterling said, "There was no water main break." He cited surveillance footage that showed there was simply a water leak and that there were no ballots concerned.
"You will see when you enter and you will see the obvious water leak on the floor," he said. “You'll see when they get all that stuff out of the way. You'll see the little carpet dryer thing Zamboni driving around. I mean, you can see it all happening, you can see the table being set up. "
Mr. Sterling criticized Mr. Trump and his allies for sharing a clip of the water leak incident, making it appear like it was showing something else that was false and misleading.
"What is really frustrating is that the president's lawyers had the same videotape," he said. "They saw exactly what the rest of us see and they decided to mislead the senators and the public about the contents of this video."
In response to false claims that workers fed the same ballot into voting machines multiple times on election day, Mr. Sterling also said it could not happen because "it would have appeared in the handcount". Georgia election officials did a full hand count of the results after the election ended due to the proximity of the race. If the recount showed no change in results, the Trump campaign requested a machine-based recount. That did not show any significant change either.
Regarding false claims of hand counting irregularities and the use of an algorithm in the voting machines to swing ballot papers against Mr Trump, Mr Sterling was clear.
"There is no algorithm-proof," he said, adding that it was "irresponsible" for the people who spread baseless rumors.
Finally, Mr. Sterling responded to a claim that Senators from the Democratic State of Georgia went to Pennsylvania to count ballots as part of a conspiracy to help Mr. Biden in that state and said it was not true. He made his desperation clear.
"It's ridiculous," he said. "I can't believe I'm standing here saying these things."