While the nation waited for the results in Georgia’s Senate runoff elections, President Donald Trump on Tuesday wrongly suggested that the normal process of counting votes was a sign of fraud.
“Looks like they are setting up a big ‘voter dump’ against the Republican candidates. Waiting to see how many votes they need?” he tweeted.
His tweet came as state election officials announced that a large number of early, in person votes would soon be reported in Dekalb County, which includes part of Atlanta, hours after polls had closed. Those votes were expected to break heavily for the Democratic candidates, and did so, according to the county results reported after 11 p.m. ET.
“Just happened to have found another 4000 ballots from Fulton County. Here we go!” he added later.
Trump has repeatedly ignored the facts when it comes to regular election process, falsely claiming that he was denied a second term in part because of surprise spikes in votes for President-elect Joe Biden, and officials in multiple states from both political parties have sought to counter this misinformation. Election results are always reported in batches, and large cities can sometimes take longer to count and report.
After polls closed Tuesday, election officials like Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager, gave regular updates on outstanding ballots and urged patience.
“It’s as easy as this: counting election results doesn’t scale perfectly proportionately. Big counties have more ballots, and often take longer,” said Justin Levitt, an election law expert and professor at Loyola Law School who worked at the Department of Justice during the Obama administration on voting issues.
In a text, Levitt added that waiting on results was entirely predictable after the nail-biter race in November: “There’s NOTHING weird about waiting for election results when the results are close.”
Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed that Democratic cities, particularly those with large shares of Black voters, have orchestrated election-stealing voter fraud, and his attorneys have advanced broad conspiracy theories involving foreign communists. There isn’t a shred of evidence of these claims, and lawsuits alleging such baseless theories have been thrown out of court after court.
With the races still too close to call, Trump amplified suggestions of impropriety from allies on Twitter.
“Why are they stopping the vote count in Democrat Chatham county, Georgia? This sounds familiar!” Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, tweeted from her personal account, earning a retweet from the president.
Sterling tweeted an explanation.
“Chatham County didn’t just stop. They completed the counting of everything they have in. That includes Election Day, Advanced, & all of the absentees they had in. The last left will be the absentee by mail that came in today,” he said.
Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator, earned retweets from the president when she said Democrats were “scrounging up votes from mystical places again,” and later posted, “I wonder when the water main is gonna burst in Georgia….”
The reference to a water main break is part of another debunked conspiracy theory advanced by the president. There was no water main break and surveillance footage shows that there were no planted ballots, as Trump has repeatedly alleged.
Both races were neck-and-neck as of 12:55 a.m. Wednesday, though Democrat Raphael Warnock leads Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, according to NBC News.
The other race is tighter, with former Republican Sen. David Perdue outperforming Loeffler against Democrat Jon Ossoff.