Missing 2020 poll tallies in Georgia don’t prove 20,713 votes never existed. Other records are available
CLAIM: A public records request revealed that 20,713 votes that were included in the 2020 election night tally in Fulton County, Georgia, do not exist. AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. A complaint submitted to the Georgia State Election Board in July 2022 includes an email from Fulton County stating that ballot tabulator results, or poll tapes, printed on Election […] The post Missing 2020 poll tallies in Georgia don’t prove 20,713 votes never existed. Other records are available appeared first on The Atlanta Voice.
CLAIM: A public records request revealed that 20,713 votes that were included in the 2020 election night tally in Fulton County, Georgia, do not exist.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. A complaint submitted to the Georgia State Election Board in July 2022 includes an email from Fulton County stating that ballot tabulator results, or poll tapes, printed on Election Day “do not exist” for 10 machines. But poll tapes are just one part of the paper trail that documents the vote, which is also recorded on memory cards and in official statements released by Georgia counties, among other procedures. Three separate counts of Georgia’s votes all found similar results in Fulton County, with then-candidate Joe Biden winning both the county and the state each time.
THE FACTS: Although the 2024 election is well underway, social media posts questioning the results of the 2020 race are still circulating.
“BREAKING: Fulton County counted 20,713 votes that did not exist in the 2020 election, according to a public record request,” reads one post on X, formerly Twitter. “Trump ‘lost’ Georgia by 11,779 votes.”
The post had received approximately 28,000 likes as of Wednesday and 12,800 shares. A post on Instagram that included a screenshot of the X post had more than 11,400 likes.
Both posts cite a complaint submitted to the Georgia State Election Board in July 2022, which details alleged “election irregularities,” including the 20,713 votes that the complaint says were never cast. It provides as proof a Fulton County email, which states that poll tapes from 10 vote tabulators used to count in-person votes cast before Election Day “do not exist.”
But poll tapes — receipt-like vote tallies from either a specific tabulator or an entire polling precinct — are just one of many methods for documenting elections and their absence does not prove that votes were fabricated.
All 2020 votes in Georgia were documented on memory cards and in official statements released by the state’s counties, among other procedures — not just on the poll tapes, officials said.
Mike Hassinger, a spokesperson for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office, which oversees elections statewide, told The Associated Press in an email that “there are no ‘missing’ votes” and that “a scanner that didn’t produce a poll tape would have no effect on the number or validity of the votes cast.”
“Poll tapes are not supposed to go missing, but precincts are managed by human beings who sometimes make mistakes,” he wrote. “Vote totals are recorded multiple ways to provide redundancy and security.”
Hassinger added: “If you lose your receipt, it doesn’t mean you didn’t get groceries. The store register has a copy of receipt. Your card has a record of the charge. You might not have a receipt, but there is more than one way to prove you paid for your groceries.”
Mark Lindeman, policy and strategy director at Verified Voting, agreed that missing poll tapes are not cause for concern.
“It’s maybe a little disappointing, but not suspicious,” he said, pointing to factors such as a new paper-based voting system implemented in Georgia in 2020 and the overall chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as possible contributors to the situation. “I would find it a little suspicious if every poll tape were exactly where it was supposed to be. That would be too good to be true.”
Three different tallies of Georgia’s 2020 votes — a machine count on Election Day; a risk-limiting audit conducted by hand that took place Nov. 11-19, 2020; and a second recount that began days later requested by the Trump campaign, done with scanning machines — found similar results in Fulton County.
Biden won each time, beating then-President Donald Trump by between 242,965 and 243,904 votes. The results of a recount become the official results, the AP reported in 2020, meaning that after the last recount, Biden had won Georgia by 11,779 votes.
A 2023 state review of Fulton County’s 2020 audit found errors and inconsistencies in the vote count, including some double counting of ballots. But the errors weren’t enough to alter the election results, the AP has reported.