Election officials in Georgia are working overtime to debunk false claims by President Donald Trump and his allies that the Senate runoff results are untrustworthy.
The most visible pushback has come from Gabriel Sterling, a Republican who is a top state official overseeing the ballot counting. On Wednesday, Sterling rejected Trump’s claim that officials “just happened to find 50,000 ballots late last night.”
“No Mr. President, there weren’t ‘found’ ballots,” Sterling tweeted. “We have known the number of advanced votes since this weekend. We saw record Election Day turnout. As of Monday 970,000 absentees had been accepted. 31k more were added in yesterday’s totals. That leaves 60k that came in yesterday.”
For Trump, baseless claims of “found” ballots — and the insinuation that they are unfairly responsible for giving Democrats an edge on Election Night — has been a persistent theme stretching back to the November presidential elections. But Trump’s logic depends on either a fundamental misunderstanding of how elections work, or a cynical exploitation of the ballot counting process to generate the false impression that something is being stolen from its rightful owner.
The reality is this: There may be “leads” on Election Night and those “leads” may shift back and forth, but they are a result of how we count votes — but the ballots are already in or on their way in and there is already a winner and a loser, even if we don’t know who it is yet.
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