CLAIM: Photo shows shredded ballots found in Dell boxes in Georgia as election workers count the vote.
THE FACTS: The photos being shared online do not show shredded ballots.
As election workers counted votes for Georgia’s Senate runoffs Tuesday night, posts online began suggesting that votes were being stolen or that fraud was taking place. One tweet that was retweeted more than 23,000 times included a photo taken at the Georgia World Congress Center in Fulton County, claiming it showed shredded ballots. A screenshot of the tweet was widely shared across social media. In the photo, shredded paper can be seen next to boxes. Amy Coello, who describes herself as a motivational speaker, tweeted the photos on Tuesday. She could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.
“Our team is in Georgia. They took a little walk. They found shredded ballots in Dell boxes. Police came as well. They wanted to confiscate phones with evidence. Here is just the first few photos,” her post said.
Fulton County election officials confirmed to the AP that the photos being shared online did not show shredded ballots. A large number of voters opted to use absentee ballots, which come in two envelopes that are opened and counted, said Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez, a spokeswoman for Fulton County. “We have tens of thousands of ballots to open and use envelope opening equipment to do so,” Corbitt-Dominguez said in an email. “As a result of the process of opening thousands of envelopes, paper waste is left behind.” The photos shared online showed waste left behind when envelopes are opened, not the ballots themselves. The county used a cutter that cuts the tops off the secondary envelopes used with absentee ballots.
“That is what was “discovered,’” Corbitt-Dominguez said of the tweet. “This was explained to the individuals onsite.” Corbitt-Dominguez added that election monitors are advised not to use their cellphones outside of the public observation area per state law. It was not immediately clear whether election monitors took the photos that were shared online. President Donald Trump suggested that ballots from the Nov. 3 general election were being shredded in the state during a Jan. 2 phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state about the general election. Gabriel Sterling, a top official with the Georgia secretary of state’s office, held a press conference on Monday debunking Trump’s claims. Sterling said, “there is no shredding of ballots.” “That’s not real,” Sterling said. “It’s not happening.”