In a searing news conference on Monday, Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia, systematically debunked President Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. Again.
“The reason I’m having to stand here today is because there are people in positions of authority and respect who have said their votes didn’t count, and it’s not true,” said Mr. Sterling, a Republican who last month condemned the president’s failure to denounce threats against election officials, and who was tasked on Monday with responding to the news of a phone call in which Mr. Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to change the outcome of the presidential race.
“It’s anti-disinformation Monday,” Mr. Sterling said. “It’s whack-a-mole again, it’s Groundhog Day again, and I’m going to talk about things that I’ve talked about repeatedly for two months. I’m going to do it again one last time. I hope.”
Here is a rundown of the false claims about Georgia’s vote-counting that Mr. Trump and his lawyers made on the call and in other venues, and Mr. Sterling’s explanations of what actually happened.
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That, amid the disruption caused by a broken water main at a vote-counting center in Fulton County, election workers brought in “suitcases or trunks” of ballots.
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: Late in the evening, after the water main break had been fixed, election workers prepared to go home for the night and followed standard procedures to store ballots securely: placing them in containers and affixing numbered seals. But when Mr. Raffensperger found out that they were closing up shop, he ordered them to continue counting through the night — so the workers retrieved the containers and resumed counting ballots.
All of this is on video footage that the secretary of state’s office posted publicly.
“This is what’s really frustrating: The president’s legal team had the entire tape,” Mr. Sterling said. “They watched the entire tape. They intentionally misled the State Senate, the voters and the people of the United States about this.”
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That workers scanned some batches of ballots multiple times.
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: When a scanning machine encounters a problem, it stops, but a few ballots get through while it’s stopping. When that happens, workers take the ballots and scan them again so they’re counted properly. This is standard procedure, and the ballots aren’t counted twice — and if they were, the hand recount Georgia conducted would have shown it.
“That audit showed that there was no problem with the machine scanning,” Mr. Sterling said. “If somebody took a stack of ballots and scanned them multiple times, you would have a lot of votes with no corresponding ballots.”
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That tens of thousands of ineligible voters cast ballots.
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: The actual number of ballots cast by ineligible voters is minuscule, and nowhere near enough to change the outcome of the election.
Mr. Sterling also addressed more specific claims about ineligible voters:
Mr. Trump said that thousands of people voted despite not being registered to vote. This is impossible, Mr. Sterling said: “You can’t do it. There cannot be a ballot issued to you, there’s no way to tie it back to you, there’s nowhere for them to have a name to correspond back to unless they’re registered voters. So that number is zero.”
Mr. Trump said that thousands of voters died before the election. Mr. Sterling said the secretary of state’s office had found only two who might fit that description.
Mr. Trump said that hundreds of people voted using P.O. boxes rather than a residential address. Mr. Sterling said that the secretary of state’s office was still investigating, but that everyone it had examined so far had, in fact, used a proper residential address — just one for a multifamily residence or apartment building.
Mr. Trump’s campaign said that many felons voted. In reality, using records from the state’s corrections and probation departments, the secretary of state’s office identified only 74 people who might fit that category — and Mr. Sterling said the final number would be even lower once the office completed its investigation, because in many cases, the person might have had their voting rights reinstated after completing a sentence or might simply have the same name as a felon.
Mr. Trump’s campaign said that tens of thousands of people younger than 18 voted. “The actual number is zero,” Mr. Sterling said, “and the reason we know that is because the dates are on the voter registration. There are four cases — four — where people requested their absentee ballot before they turned 18, but they turned 18 by Election Day. That means that is a legally cast ballot.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign said that hundreds of voters cast ballots in two states. Mr. Sterling said that officials were still investigating, but that if any such cases were confirmed, it would be “handfuls,” and nowhere near enough to change the outcome.
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That machines flipped votes, counting Trump ballots as Biden ones.
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: If this had happened, Mr. Sterling said, the hand recount would have shown it, and it did not show anything of the sort.
Discussing allegations of hacking, he added that ballot machines and scanners aren’t connected to the internet. “Neither one has modems,” Mr. Sterling said. “It’s very hard to hack things without modems.”
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That election officials did not properly verify signatures for mail-in ballots.
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: The secretary of state’s office brought in signature experts, who examined more than 15,000 mail-in ballot envelopes. They found potential problems with only two, and upon investigation, both ballots turned out to be legitimate.
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That, compared with previous election cycles, Georgia rejected a suspiciously low number of mail-in ballots.
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: The decrease in rejections is attributable to a recently passed law that gives Georgians a chance to correct problems, such as a rejected signature, with their ballots. Both parties had teams roaming the state and contacting voters whose ballots were at risk of rejection, but Mr. Sterling said the Democrats were simply more prepared for the task.
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That election officials shredded ballots.
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: “There is no shredding of ballots going on,” Mr. Sterling said with clear annoyance. “That’s not real. It’s not happening.”
Workers did shred secrecy envelopes: the blank envelopes that protect the privacy of a voter’s absentee ballot and go inside an outer envelope. It’s the outer envelope that voters have to sign, and election officials have kept those outer envelopes as required by law. The secrecy envelopes, however, “have no evidentiary value,” Mr. Sterling said, because by definition they have no identifying information on them.
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That employees of Dominion Voting Systems “moved the inner parts” of voting machines “and replaced them with other parts.”
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: “No one is changing parts or pieces out of Dominion voting machines. That’s not real. I don’t even know what that means.”
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That officials improperly counted “pristine” ballots — meaning ballots that weren’t folded, indicating that they hadn’t arrived in an envelope.
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: “Pristine” ballots aren’t unusual, Mr. Sterling said. For instance, many military and overseas voters receive electronic ballots that they print out, complete and mail back. But these printed ballots aren’t the right size for scanners, so election workers have a standard process for transferring the votes to scannable ballots. A ballot that gets damaged and can’t be scanned may be transferred in the same way.
TRUMP’S CLAIM: That Mr. Raffensperger is compromised because he has a brother who works for a Chinese technology company. (Mr. Trump was echoing a conspiracy theory about an unrelated man who happens to be named Ron Raffensperger.)
STERLING’S EXPLANATION: Mr. Raffensperger doesn’t have a brother named Ron.