Fact check: No evidence of fraud in Georgia election results

Daniel Funke

The claim: A preliminary audit in Georgia found 30,000 'fake ballots'

Another review of ballots in Georgia's most populous county has inspired a rash of misinformation about the results of the 2020 presidential election.

On May 21, a Georgia judge agreed to unseal more than 145,000 absentee ballots in a case that alleges Fulton County, home of Atlanta, mishandled ballots. The review is one of a slew of efforts to question election results in states like Arizona and New Hampshire.

None of those efforts will change the outcome of the 2020 election, but an image in a May 27 Facebook post says the Georgia review has already uncovered fraud.

"Preliminary audit finds 30,000 fake ballots that are on the wrong paper, have no folds and have been filled out by machine," says text in the image, which has more than 1,000 shares.

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Since President Joe Biden beat incumbent Donald Trump in Georgia by more than 12,000 votes, the state has been a hot spot for misinformation about election fraud. But three separate audits found no evidence of wrongdoing affecting the state's election results — and the review mentioned in the post hasn't even started yet.

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the post for comment.

Three audits didn't find fraud

The Georgia secretary of state's office has audited the state's election results three times. None of those audits turned up evidence of widespread fraud.

"Our law enforcement officers and secretary of state's office spent literally thousands of hours examining ballots in Fulton County and other counties trying to track these kinds of claims down, and so far we've seen nothing give any merit to it," Gabriel Sterling, the Republican chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the Georgia secretary of state's office, said in a recent interview with CNN.

In one audit, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation analyzed absentee ballots in Cobb County and found no evidence of fraud. Lawsuits challenging Georgia's 2020 election results failed, and the state's Republican secretary of state has repeatedly quashed claims of voter fraud. 

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A fourth review of absentee ballots in Fulton County hasn't found fraud, either.

Because the review hasn't happened yet.

Officials sort ballots during an audit at the Georgia World Congress Center on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Atlanta.

A judge had planned to consider procedures for reviewing the ballots, which will not leave Fulton County custody, on May 28. But the meeting was postponed because the county has filed motions to dismiss the case, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The Facebook post's claim about 30,000 "fake ballots" appears to stem from a recent episode of the show "War Room" with Steve Bannon, former Trump White House chief strategist. John Fredericks, a conservative radio host, asserted on the show that affidavits from four people who were in the room during a recount say up to 30,000 ballots are counterfeit.

As PolitiFact reported, those affidavits contain unverified allegations about the integrity of absentee ballots, including claims that they didn't have creases and came on different paper stock. They do not prove 30,000 ballots were fabricated.

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The affidavits have been promoted by VoterGA, a group co-founded by Garland Favorito, one of the plaintiffs in the case seeking to review absentee ballots in Fulton County. In the past, Favorito has promoted conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

USA TODAY reached out to the Georgia secretary of state's office for comment, but it did not provide one on the record.

Our rating: False

The claim that a preliminary audit in Georgia found 30,000 "fake ballots" is FALSE, based on our research. Three separate audits of Georgia's 2020 election results found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. A review of absentee ballots in Fulton County has not started yet, and affidavits related to that review do not prove 30,000 ballots were fabricated.

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