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Atlanta Civic Circle Democracy Raisa Habersham

Georgia SOS office debunks election rumors – again – ahead of Senate runoffs

By Raisa Habersham

On the eve of arguably the most important elections in recent memory, an exasperated Gabriel Sterling stood before members of the press and debunked voting rumors that have been circulating since November.

Sterling spent about two minutes on early voting numbers and Senate election logistics before launching into a long winded debunk of unfounded voter claims by lame-duck President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans.

“I’m going to go through all this [on] anti-misinformation Monday. It’s whack-a-mole again, it is Groundhog Day,” said Sterling, the statewide voting system implementation manager. “I’m going to  get to talk about things that I’ve talked about repeatedly for two months. But I’m going to do it again. One last time, I’m hoping because at the end of the day, we want to make sure people understand their votes count.”

For the past few weeks, Georgia has been a political minefield as residents will decide who their next two Senators are. Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are challenging Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively.

The runoff races are key in deciding if Republicans will maintain control of the U.S. Senate and are key in determining how President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris govern the states.

Biden and Harris have been in Georgia ahead of the runoffs urging residents to cast ballots and not be discouraged by misinformation.

Their visits and Sterling’s 30-minute presser came just days after it was revealed Trump had an hour long conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,800 more votes.” The recording has raised questions about the criminality of Trump’s request and what – if anything – can be done about it.

The tape prompted incoming Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to issue a statement saying should an investigation open into the call, she would “enforce the law without fear.”

“Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable,” Willis said in the statement.

Trump and Raffensperger’s conversation was brought up during the Fulton County press conference with election officials, who say they are focused on ensuring voters’ ballots are cast.

“We are just going to continue to conduct the elections in compliance with the law. We know that there’s been a great deal of misinformation out there, that’s been circulated. We don’t have the resources to respond to each one of these,” Fulton County elections director Richard Barron said.

“And instead, we’ve been focusing on preparing for tomorrow and conducting the election legally, fairly and transparently. I think that we do that every day. And that’s what my staff is committed to doing,” Barron added.

The county, the largest in Georgia, has said it’s prepared to handle the potential volume of voters in Tuesday’s election. Barron expects Fulton County will again be in for a long election night.

“Our goal is to have everything we received today and tomorrow completed tomorrow night,” he said during the press conference. “But it is possible we will have to conclude on Wednesday.”

Right now, over 370,000 votes have been cast, including nearly 100,000 absentee ballots. But despite the influx of absentee ballots, there are still at least 56,000 absentee ballots that the county’s election office has not received.

“I think with the Christmas season, in the middle of this election, it has affected the mail. There were also there were three holidays for the mail in that time period,” Barron said. “So it has affected mail delivery. There were some people that were concerned about not receiving their absentee by mail over the weekend, and I know at least a couple of them. Hopefully, those individuals will receive their ballot before [Tuesday].”

Barron said the county will have stations set up so residents who have not received their absentee ballot can cancel them and instead vote in person.

Statewide, more than 3 million ballots, including early voting and absentee, have been cast ahead of early voting, a record for runoff elections in Georgia.

Georgia Senate runoffs will be held Tuesday. Voters can check their precinct at Georgia SOS’s My Voter Page

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