Former President Donald Trump made the deceptive claim that 3,600 illegally duplicated ballots were counted in Atlanta’s Fulton County during the 2020 presidential election in his most recent election fraud spin. He’s talking about news stories from months ago about mistakes that were made during an audit, not the official vote count.
When state investigators audited the county to verify the 2020 results, they discovered that votes had been miscounted and double-counted. However, the audit was never included in the official count in Georgia, where Joe Biden lost by a small margin. The mistakes, according to the investigators, were inadvertent and had no bearing on the result.
Trump wrote, “Fulton County, Georgia, acknowledges, in a major Consent Decree, that 3,600 individual ballots were DUPLICATED (36 Batches)” in a post on Truth Social on November 11. A LOT OF CRIME, THAT. When will the remaining details be revealed? Everybody is waiting. This is only the start. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!
Trump is referring to a June consent order (as opposed to a June consent decree, which is a judge-approved settlement), according to which state investigators looking into elections in Fulton County found that staff members “misidentified and duplicated” tally sheets during an audit of the 2020 election results. Trump fails to mention that state investigators found that the errors were only a small portion of the total and were “not due to intentional misconduct by Fulton County elections staff.”
overall number of votes cast, which consequently “did not affect the result” of the Fulton County election.
That was made known to the public in June, so it’s unclear what spurred Trump to write about it on November 11. (When asked about the post, his campaign did not reply.) But on November 10, a post on X, the former Twitter platform, resurfaced a 2021 clip in which Tucker Carlson, the host of Fox News at the time, brought up comparable concerns. The social media site reports that more than 60 million people have seen the post.
James Callaway, the secretary of state’s office’s deputy chief of investigations at the time, stated during a meeting of the Georgia Board of Registration and Elections on March 16, 2022, that an investigation had found “many examples of human
An open-source software system used in the audit to upload Fulton County results to the state encountered an error “while inputting data.”
However, Callaway stated, “no evidence was found to suggest criminal behavior.” “I think the batch sheets entered twice under different headings caused the errors.”
Investigators said there were cases of miscounted votes, including when an election official misread and recorded a 47 as 97, in addition to batches of votes being entered twice.
At that meeting, Joe Rossi, a Houston County resident who had originally discovered irregularities in the audit counts, claimed that the input errors had given Biden over 4,000 extra votes.
According to an analysis by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the audit included roughly 3,000 more absentee ballots for Biden than were actually counted. “The overall count in the audit was close to the official machine results,” the AJC stated, “despite inaccuracies in the ballot batches that were investigated.” By roughly 12,000 votes, Biden prevailed in the state.
At that meeting, Sara Tindall Ghazal, a Democratic appointee to the State Election Board, pointed out that the audit’s main goal was to verify whether the right candidate had won the election. Because Biden’s margin of victory was so narrow, the audit ultimately led to a hand-recount of all the votes.
Ghazal stated, “It’s not supposed to be a one-to-one recount.” “There was also a recount, which is a completely different matter. Vote totals were examined during the recount, and the count was accurate. The purpose of the audit is to determine if the appropriate candidate was chosen.
According to Ghazal, the errors were caused by “human data entry errors” and were probably caused by the election officials’ rush to finish the audit.
According to the first machine count, Biden prevailed by 12,670 votes. After a machine recount, Biden’s lead was marginally reduced to 11,779 votes. The official results are as follows.
During the March 2022 meeting, Ryan Germany, who held the position of general counsel for Georgia’s secretary of state’s office, mentioned that the official election results consist of both the initial machine count and the recount from the previously certified machine. The audit numbers are therefore not included in any certified outcomes.
Nevertheless, the state board decided during the meeting to give the case to the office of the state attorney general so that they could look into whether the mistakes were a breach of the state’s audit preparation laws.
The public was informed at the board meeting on February 7, 2023, that the state attorney general’s office and Fulton County counsel had reached a settlement to settle the complaint through a consent order. Under the terms of the agreement, Fulton County acknowledged no wrongdoing but committed to putting certain written policies and procedures in place to avoid mistakes in future audits.
The State Election Board gave FactCheck.org a copy of the consent order, which states that although state investigators found evidence of human error in data entry, the error had no bearing on the county’s election outcomes.
Consent order, June 8: The investigation’s findings demonstrated that when Fulton County elections employees entered audit batch sheet data into the Arlo program, which the Secretary of State’s office utilized to oversee the risk-limiting audit, they mistakenly recognized and duplicated the data. Respondent [the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections] violated SEB Rule 183-1-15-.04 regarding audits by not accurately entering all of the audit batch sheet data.
The investigators also came to the conclusion that the reported inconsistencies were not the result of deliberate misconduct by Fulton County elections staff, but rather the result of human error in data entry that was not detected in time to make corrections because of time constraints in finishing the risk-limiting audit and the sheer volume of ballots.
The risk-limiting audit verified that the results of the 2020 General Election [in] Fulton County were accurate, and the errors that were found only accounted for a small portion of the total votes cast. The risk-limiting audit was conducted with the intention of verifying the accuracy of the original ballot tabulation results, which it did.
Incorrectly, Trump asserted that the order was proof of “A LOT OF CRIME.” According to the order, the Fulton County election board has not admitted guilt and that the settlement reached “is a civil settlement and has no criminal ramifications.”
In June, the State Election Board and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners both approved the consent order. William Duffey, the chair of the State Election Board, gave a summary and timeline of the entire procedure during a meeting on August 1.
When questioned about the negotiated agreement in July, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was informed by Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs that “the investigation specifically found that any data entry errors committed by Fulton did not affect the 2020 election results.” The matter is now resolved.