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Now hitting Fox News, yesterday's Georgia Senate committe(s) hearings are apparently providing new ammunition to governor Kemp to request another signature audit:

Gov. Brian Kemp, the Georgia Republican who has been fiercely criticized by President Trump over his approach to allegations of voter fraud in his state, said Thursday that new testimony has raised additional questions and a signature audit should be performed.

Kemp, who was interviewed on "The Ingraham Angle," was referring to surveillance video that allegedly showed poll watchers being led out of a room at State Farm Arena, the state's largest vote-counting center, after being told that the vote count was complete for the night. Once they left, a woman could be seen pulling out suitcases from underneath a table that allegedly contained ballots. The votes were allegedly counted for hours, with no election supervisors present, CBS46.com reported.

Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's lawyers, tweeted, "SMOKING GUN FROM GEORGIA.'

Likewise, the (Republican) U.S. Representative for Georgia's 10th congressional district, Jody Hice, tweeted (as quoted in the same source):

Fulton County supervisors in Georgia tell poll workers, press and observers to leave the room...

And then pull out SUITCASES of ballots.

Say it with me... F R A U D.

The GA Senate hearings had a somewhat unusual structure, in that first the state officials testified before one committee and then Giuliani/Trump's team testified to another committee. So, the was no immediate way for the state election officials to rebut any (new) allegations from Giuliani's team at these hearings. In particular, the footage from the State Farm Areana (aka the "SMOKING GUN" according to Giuliani) was unveiled/discussed for the first time at these (later) hearings of Giuliani's team:

Giuliani’s attorneys also unveiled surveillance video they alleged shows ballot-counting irregularities at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, though they acknowledged they obtained the video late Wednesday night and had not finished reviewing it yet – nor shown it to anyone else prior to Thursday’s hearing.

So, the obvious question is then, have Georgia state or local (i.e. Fulton County) election officials provided (since then) an explanation for what is seen happening in that footage?

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    Even FoxNews knows that a signature match recount is impossible because Georgia properly has made traceability between voters and ballots impossible. Elections in Georgia (and across the US) intentionally use the concept of secret ballots. – David Hammen Dec 4 '20 at 12:13
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    A properly executed signature match audit will show two things: (1) People's signatures are not as repeatable as some think, and (2) Signatures done using a what is essentially a fat electronic Sharpie to write one's signature in a small signature box, with a significant fraction of a second delay between hand action and display, makes for a very bad user experience design. One might as well use an "X". – David Hammen Dec 4 '20 at 12:22
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    I voted to close this as it is not about a policy or a process. It's about a specific allegation which is subject to ongoing investigation (and will likely end up in court). None of that relates to policy or process - it's asking for what Georgia State officials say, which is none of these things and more akin to asking for the latest news on a current event. – StephenG Dec 4 '20 at 23:04
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    @JJJ So tomorrow and the next day and the day after that are answers supposed to be updated with every new statement by an official or lawyer representing them ? It's news and not suitable for a question here as there is no resolution yet E.g. tomorrow they could "correct" what they said or statements in court could contradict it or confirm it or a bit of both. When do we stop answering an open question like this ? – StephenG Dec 5 '20 at 3:31
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    Hearsay on Twitter isn't evidence of anything, let alone a "smoking gun". Election officials aren't required to explain every nonsensical claim aired by Trump, Giuliani, or Fox News, and shouldn't waste their time trying. If those actors want to allege fraud, the onus is entirely on them to prove it. And in an actual court, not the court of public opinion. – aroth Dec 6 '20 at 1:18
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While not exactly discussing the video and the the allegation of "suitcases of ballots", the topic of "secret counting" at the State Farm Arena was actually discussed by election officials with the media before this hearing:

State Election Board member fact-checks fraud claims, including 'secret counting' in Fulton

[...]

Taking a roughly 15-minute aside toward the end of the State Election Board meeting, board member Matt Mashburn went through more than a dozen allegations he said he has heard frequently either in media accounts or from the public.

[...]

Among the most authoritative debunkings that Mashburn offered concerned the allegation that on Election Night, Fulton County sent observers home and then continued to count in secret at State Farm Arena. The more extreme claim tied to that allegation was that the county was somehow manufacturing fraudulent ballots in the early hours after Election Night.

Mashburn, a Republican, said he knew that wasn't true because there was a board-appointed observer on site. Further, the counting itself wasn't going on in secret, he said, because he himself was posted at the English Avenue precinct until 3 a.m. that night and it was plainly apparent to the handful of people there that counting was still going on at State Farm Arena.

"The true explanation happened right in front of me – on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. the elections director announced they had 30,000 ballots left to count. Both I and the election monitor were standing right there together when this press conference took place and we both compared notes and knew that Fulton County was processing ballots at approximately 2,000 per hour," Mashburn said. "So that meant 30,000 divided by 2,000 per hour - that meant that 15 hours were left before they were finished. But the elections director unfortunately said they would be finished by midnight, which was five hours away. So anybody paying attention to what he was saying knew they had at least 10 hours more left to count (past midnight).

"I even thought to myself at the time, 'Well that’s gonna cause some suspicion when they're nowhere near finished at midnight and in fact still have 20,000 ballots left to count'... I knew that was gonna be a problem."


Actually, Lead Stories has (now) fact-checked the allegations surrounding the video as false, after talking more extensively to election officials:

Fact Check: Video From Georgia Does NOT Show Suitcases Filled With Ballots Suspiciously Pulled From Under A Table; Poll Watchers Were NOT Told To Leave

[...]

Two high-level officials with the Georgia secretary of state's office and a state elections board monitor each told Lead Stories that their investigations revealed nothing suspicious in the video.

The officials said the ballots seen in the video were in regular ballot containers -- not suitcases -- and they had been removed from their envelopes and processed while news media and election observers for the Republican Party and Trump campaign were present. The media and party observers were never told to leave because counting was over for the night, but they apparently followed workers who left once their job of opening envelopes was completed, the chief investigator for the secretary of state told Lead Stories. The observers were free to return at anytime, she said. Georgia law allows observers, but does not require them to be there for ballots to be counted, she said.

[...]

Gabriel Sterling, a Republican and Georgia's voting system implementation manager, told Lead Stories during a phone call on December 3, 2020 that what can be seen on the video is normal procedure and nothing looks "bizarre or odd."

Election workers known as "cutters" because their job was to open absentee ballot envelopes and verify ballots for eventual scanning and counting were dismissed for the night sometime after 10 p.m. on November 3, 2020, because their work for the evening had been completed, he explained. Those workers who remained were responsible for conducting the scanning portion of the process, since ballots could not be left without being scanned overnight. He said:

If you look at the video tape, the work you see is the work you would expect, which is you take the sealed suitcase looking things in, you place the ballots on the scanner in manageable batches and you scan them.

Frances Watson, chief investigator for the Georgia secretary of state, told Lead Stories during a phone call on December 3, 2020, that the ballots were in standard containers, and the work during the time in question had nothing to do with pulling ballots from under a table. She said:

There wasn't a bin that had ballots in it under that table. It was an empty bin and the ballots from it were actually out on the table when the media were still there, and then it was placed back into the box when the media were still there and placed next to the table.

There was never an announcement made to the media and other observers about the counting being over for the night and them needing to leave, according to Watson, who was provided information by the media liaison, who was present. She said they just followed the "cutters" as they left.

She said:

Nobody told them to stay. Nobody told them to leave. Nobody gave them any advice on what they should do. And It was still open for them or the public to come back in to view at whatever time they wanted to, as long as they were still working.

In addition, she explained that the only ballots that were scanned after the media and other observers had left were those that had already been opened in front of these observers.

Contrary to the claim, the ballots were not in suitcases, she said. The black boxes and bins seen in the video are the standard container used for the ballot counting process.

[...]

Section § 21-2-408 of the Code Of Georgia, which addresses poll watchers, explains that political bodies and parties are "entitled" to have official poll watchers. The secretary of state's chief counsel told Lead Stories it was not a requirement that observers be present for counting to continue -- only that it is their right to be there is they choose.


The official response has made it to news agencies now; there's not much to add from the latter coverage but this:

The Georgia secretary of state’s office said it was aware of the late-night counting, and confirmed that both its investigator and an independent monitor observed scanning “until it was halted for the night.”

The office said it had launched an investigation into why partisan poll observers left before scanning ended.

The president’s team is “intentionally misleading the public about what happened at State Farm Arena on election night,” Sterling tweeted Friday. “They had the whole video too and ignored the truth.”

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    Does this mean that all the media (including Fox News), as well as both the Republican and Democratic party observers were not knowledgeable enough in the process to perform their jobs effectively? And now Fox News is claiming fraud, but their physical absence was due to their own incompetence and ineptitude? – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Dec 5 '20 at 9:20
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    @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket: frankly I've been wondering about some of that myself: i.e. whether the [partisan] observers received some kind of training or introduction as to what the process looked like and (so) what they were supposed to monitor. I would make a good separate q, I think. – Fizz Dec 5 '20 at 9:33
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    @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket: Or possibly the observers were simply tired and under-staffed? If the individual observers have been there for (say) twelve hours already, they know there’s another twelve hours of counting remaining, and the organisations haven’t got a “night shift” group lined up, then the observers may reasonably choose to go home, get some sleep, and come back in the morning. In a less contested election or location, this would be completely normal, as I understand it. In that case it’s not incompetence, it’s a reasonable decision, but it is their own responsibility. – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Dec 5 '20 at 10:11
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    @Fizz - USA Today describes one observer's experience "His 20-minute training consisted of a Trump victory video and another instructing him how and what to challenge.", and the Nov 13 verdict on the Wayne County case remarks "Perhaps if Plaintiffs' election challenger affiants had attended the October 29, 2020 walk-through of the TCF Center ballot counting location, questions and concerns could have been answered in advance of Election Day. Regrettably, they did not and, therefore, Plaintiffs' affiants did not have a full understanding of the TCF absent ballot tabulation process" – Tom Goodfellow Dec 5 '20 at 23:56
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    @RockPaperLz : oh absolutely, it was just the individual observers’ actions I meant to defend, not the party organisations behind them and certainly not the baseless allegations of fraud! – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Dec 6 '20 at 8:18

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