Dec 7, 2020

Georgia Election Officials Briefing Transcript December 7: Will Recertify Election Results Today

Georgia Election Officials Update Briefing Transcript December 7: Will Recertify Election Results Today
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsGeorgia Election Officials Briefing Transcript December 7: Will Recertify Election Results Today

Georgia election officials Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling held a press conference on December 7 to provide an update on the election recount. Raffensperger announced that he will recertify the election results today. Read the transcript of the news briefing speech here.

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Brad Raffensperger : (00:00)
… code to name electors is tomorrow. And then they will meet on December 14th to officially elect the next President. While we will continue our investigations to their conclusions and where prosecution is necessary, we will work with the State Election Board to refer them to the proper prosecutors. We are working with the counties to assure a fair, safe, and secure election for January 5th. We will continue to take steps to assure that only legally registered Georgians will be casting ballots.

Brad Raffensperger : (00:36)
So let’s discuss where we are and where we are heading in Georgia. All this talk of a stolen election, whether it’s Stacey Abrams or the President of the United States, is hurting our state. Georgia is the number one state in the nation to do business for nearly a decade. Continuing to make debunked claims of a stolen election is hurting our state. I started my business and build it from the ground up. I’ve employed hundreds and hundreds of Georgians, men and women in those years. I know what it takes to build teams that work to strengthen buildings, restore and strengthen old landmarks. And I’ve also built a team that knows how to win an election. I also built a team that knows how to run and oversee elections. I understand we need to focus on the future of growing businesses here in Georgia, getting through the COVID pandemic and bringing more good paying Georgians to our state.

Brad Raffensperger : (01:40)
The vast majority of Georgians, Republicans and Democrats want us, all of us as elected officials to focus on protecting and growing Georgia jobs, getting the vaccine out as efficiently as possible and getting back to normal. The focus on November 3rd is drawing energy away from those goals. The President has his due process rights, and those are available to him. It’s time we all focus on the future and growth.

Brad Raffensperger : (02:12)
I know there are people that are convinced the election was fraught with problems, but the evidence, the actual evidence, the facts tell us a different story. Business owners across Georgia know it’s time to focus on the future. Georgians have serious issues that need to be addressed. I am looking forward to a great Christmas time and then a good legislative session. We will have our elections bill brought forward. There’ll be a major reform of their election processes, where I will work with the legislature, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor Duncan and we can all work together to help all of our businesses and make Georgia an even better place to do business so that each and every Georgian can get a good job or those brave entrepreneurs can start their next small business. It is now time to direct our energies towards the January 5th runoff election and then to making Georgia an even better place to grow your businesses, raise your families and enjoy prosperity here in Georgia. Thank you.

Gabriel Sterling: (03:24)
Good morning. Didn’t bring my computer today because we only have a few numbers to go through. First, as the secretary pointed out, we will be recertifying today. We are waiting on the County elections board meeting in Coffee County. They knocked off work on Friday. We tried talking to them this morning and they weren’t quite in the office yet. So we don’t know the exact time of that meeting, but we are working to figure that out. As he pointed out, the Safe Harbor is tomorrow so we still have time to have the Bills of Ascertainment sent to DC so the electors can be set properly.

Gabriel Sterling: (03:55)
All right, moving on to the January 5th election. So far, we have 1,037,172 absentee ballot, I’ve talked too much in the last week guys, 1,037,172 absentee ballot applications have been put into the voter registration system. We have a 39,289 there on the dashboard for the online requests process. So that’s a total of 1,076,431. So far 43,289 voters have already had their ballots accepted at county level. And this is a new number to talk about the BallotTrax system, which is the system we put in place to allow for proactive notifications to go out there, we have 240,912 voters signed up for that right now. And of those 12,547 have already got their ballots into us.

Gabriel Sterling: (04:48)
And now we’ll move on to what I’m going to call Disinformation Monday. Out of the gate, many of you all saw the video tape from State Farm Arena. I spent hours with our post certified investigators, Justin [inaudible 00:05:02] spent hours with us going over this video to explain to people that what you saw, the secret suitcases with magic ballots, were actually ballots that had been packed into those absentee ballot carriers by the workers in plain view of the monitors and the press. The reason they were packed away is because they were under the misbegotten impression that they were getting to go home. Which, if you notice when you go back to see the videos on this, they were packing these things up 10:00, 10:30 at night. You see some of the same people there at 7:00 and 7:30 and 8:00 in the morning setting up those tables. They had been there all day long. They were tired and wanted to go home and they thought they could.

Gabriel Sterling: (05:42)
What happened around that time for many of you who are with us on election night, saw the secretary leaving around a similar time. We had heard that there were knocking off for the day and he was understandably not happy with that and made that very clear, I think on the way out the door. So our elections director for the state called the Fulton County elections director, Rick Baron, who was at the English Avenue warehouse doing election day activities, not at State Farm Arena, and said, “Why are y’all knocking off?” And he basically said, “What do you mean we’re not knocking off?” And he goes, “Well, from what we understand at State Farm, they are.” so Rick got off that phone call and then you see Ralph Jones at State Farm Arena getting a phone call around that time, as he’s literally with blue seals in his hand to seal up these containers and you can see his shoulders kind of slump for a second.

Gabriel Sterling: (06:28)
Then he goes over and does some more work on the side. I think getting up the courage to go tell these workers who had been there all day, “Hey guys, we have to stay here longer to keep scanning at least the batches we have.” So you could watch all this happen. You can see it from the beginning to the end. We watched the beginning of that thing and let’s be clear, there was no water main break. There was a urinal that they turn off during the downtime at State Farm because there’s no events going on there. And it had a little slow leak that came over the side. We have the videotape and we’re working on this video tape online, but it’s 80 gigabytes and we don’t really have a tool to let y’all run through it. We’re trying to figure that out right now. So we’ve got it into manageable bites of the most important parts of the day. That should be hopefully online today or tomorrow.

Gabriel Sterling: (07:09)
So you’ll see when they walk in and they see the obvious water leak on the floor. You will see when they move all the stuff out of the way. You will see the Zamboni little carpet drier thingy driving around. I mean, you can see all the things happening. You can see the table get put in place. And what’s really frustrating is the President’s attorneys had this same videotape. They saw the exact same things the rest of us could see and they chose to mislead State Senators and the public about what was on that video. I’m quite sure that they will not characterize the video if they try to enter into evidence, because that gives the kind of thing that could lead to sanctions, because it’s obviously untrue. They knew it was untrue and they continue to do things like this. So that’s one.

Gabriel Sterling: (07:51)
Ware County, there are no seized machines in Ware County. Not true, did not happen. There was a written report from an activist who says the hand count was 37 off, it was. He says, “The only reason it could be off is because of an algorithm in the machines.” Which is ridiculous. What have we been saying since the beginning, the most obvious fault point in any of the system is the human beings who were counting them. Again, it was 0.26%. That’s pretty close, especially when all the studies show you expect a 1 to 2% differential in hand counted ballots. And if you take that math and that biggest part of the hand counter balance that you could have problems on is the mail absentee. If you look at 25% of 1 to 2%, what does that get you about 0.26%. So that’s well within the normal range. There is no algorithm proof. There are no seized machines.

Gabriel Sterling: (08:41)
I believe some people are trying to conflate this with some of the machines being inspected in Michigan, but that’s just not the case. And then specifically a United States Congressman sent this disinformation out on his Twitter. He wrote it himself. Again, it’s irresponsible. I was the campaign manager years ago in 1994 for the first Republican to get that 10th district seat. He would never have acted that irresponsibly and I’m frustrated that we continue to see people who are put in positions of responsibility, sending out disinformation and undermining the electoral system.

Gabriel Sterling: (09:16)
Okay. Another one, Jen Jordan and Elena Perry did not get on a plane to go count votes in Pennsylvania, okay? They basically said here’s a picture of a blonde woman in a mask. Here’s another picture of a blonde woman in a mask. Obviously the conspiracy where Democrat State Senators are counting ballots in Pennsylvania. It’s ridiculous. I can’t believe I just keep on standing here and saying these things, but I do.

Gabriel Sterling: (09:41)
So there is no algorithm, the 5 million ballot hand count proves there’s no algorithm switching votes. Is there any of the disinformation I missed over the weekend guys? I’m not sure.

Speaker 4: (09:59)
We’re getting the same message. [Inaudible 00:09:59]. Scanning ballots over and over and over again. Can you explain whether the machine counted ballot three times?

Gabriel Sterling: (10:08)
Well, if it counted at five times, guess what? It would have shown up in the hand count because if you do the same batch and let’s say, I don’t even know how many there were, 100, 200, whatever it was and so you do it three times, they would have been 600 off on that on the hand count. They weren’t. I mean, it’s just, as I’ve said and y’all have heard me say it before, it’s like a ridiculous game of whack-a-mole, just keep on finding the next one. And it can kind of keeps that we’re at the point where they’ve recycled them, they’re going back to the algorithm thing that they did that they’ve been debunked before. So, all right, what else? What other questions we got? Yes. Yeah.

Speaker 5: (10:54)
[inaudible 00:10:52].

Gabriel Sterling: (10:54)
Okay. There four different buckets of two different types of ballots. So let’s go through those right now. You have the traditional hand marked paper ballots, which we’re all used to. They’re like the old scan, fun sheets and we took our SATs when we were in high school and stuff when you bubble something in. And in this state, those cover the provisionals, occasionally the emergency ballots, if you don’t have the regular ballots going, and then the absentee by mail. That’s one, that’s about probably 25% of our overall votes. About 75% of our votes come from the ballot marking device, which was the new tool that the legislature adopted in a bill in 2019 that we had a state procurement under. There were three bidders. Dominion Voting Systems won that bid process, there was no challenge to that bid process, meaning it was a very clean bid process.

Gabriel Sterling: (11:38)
And we began the deployment of those that summer and we made the initial delivery deadline of Valentine’s Day of 2020. That machine you take a screen, you wrote your check-in on a device that has nothing to do with the voting machine. This is just to identify you and then give you a card to give you your ballot on the ballot marking device, you insert that card. It then brings up your ballot on the screen. You then make your selections on that screen. And when you were done, you’ll say print ballot. You print the ballot, comes off an HP printer. You can look at that ballot, assure that your choices are the choices you intended to make. And then you take that to a completely different machine. It’s a scanner, that’s in the polling location. You can have one or two, occasionally three scanners in there and you drop it into that. You can watch the counter go up to one, one of the xrays your ballot goes through. And at that time, it tabulates it on there and it takes an image of your ballot. So we have two things that’s capturing on that.

Gabriel Sterling: (12:41)
And then from there, the memory cards from those are taken to the central location, where they have their central election management system to tabulate all and aggregate all the ballots together. So there is an artifact of where the voter made a choice, that exists by law it has to be held for another two years under Georgia law. I think 22 months under federal law. So, and that’s what we used for the hand retally. Those are the same ballots we use for the recount that we are re-certifying today. Does that cover your question?

Speaker 5: (13:08)
[inaudible 00:13:22].

Gabriel Sterling: (13:09)
Yes, the ballot envelopes are under the same laws that keep the ballots alive also, have those for two more years. And there will be, Governor Kemp and Senator Raffensperger are working together, we’re going to be bringing in the GBI as handwriting experts to go over those specific counties where there are specific allegations about any issues around the signature match with the absentee ballots. But that is not a statewide signature audit because one of the remedies asked for in the Powell lawsuit is if there’s a certain percentage, they don’t really say what that, that don’t match and it’s a subjective measure of, we all know everybody’s ballot signatures can change. This is a subjective measure. So if you’re arguing over that, then they’ll say a certain percentage, if we get to that certain percentage throw out all the absentee ballots, which is a ridiculously over the top hammer that no federal court is going to allow.

Gabriel Sterling: (14:14)
So again, it was an unnecessary thing, but we always investigate when we have specific allegations and if there is a specific allegation to investigate, we’ll do it. But a generalized we don’t like the outcome, we think this is a faulty part of the system, we’re not going to do that. But we have said before, the place in the system that is the most likely to have an issue is going to be in the absentee by mail program because in person we always present an ID. So we absolutely know that the person who’s voting is that person who is supposed to be voting legally. One second, let me go over there.

Speaker 6: (14:45)
[inaudible 00:00:14:52].

Gabriel Sterling: (14:53)
It’s about two votes per precinct. It’s a big County, it’s a little worrisome and my best guess is that they have a batch someone didn’t get and we’ve been asking about it. The problem is the clock’s running. The clock ran out and it’s a big, big County. They’ve had managerial issues, we know that. And of those ballots because they were so heavily for Vice President Biden, that means his total and the statewide count that we’ve all seen online is about 900 lower. But again, not enough to make up the difference of 12,000. It’s frustrating because again, we see these managerial issues coming out of Fulton County, and I know they’re tired. I know they’re put upon to a degree, but they consistently have these and have, we had that press conference at Park Tavern where we put up all the headlines from 1995 on. None of this is new with them. So it is frustrating. It’s a little irritating.

Gabriel Sterling: (15:42)
I mean, another anomaly we saw was Appling County, where they had 49 ballots that had been stuck in adjudication, not stuck in, they got left in. We literally did a phone call to every County said, “Hey, we know this is a problem sometimes. Make sure you get your ballots off adjudication.” They didn’t until this final time. So everybody’s learning this new system. It’s a high stress environment right now because the Presidential election was so close. So those kinds of things are going to happen. And that’s when you’ve handled these ballots now three times, they’re always going to be a little different because human beings are involved in the process. Yes.

Speaker 7: (16:14)
[inaudible 00:16:22].

Gabriel Sterling: (16:19)
I don’t have the answer to that question. We’ll try to get it. Part of the reason we don’t is because only as of last Tuesday or Wednesday really could Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton put any new registrations in because they were involved in their large runoffs. Yes.

Speaker 8: (16:32)
[inaudible 00:16:47].

Gabriel Sterling: (16:52)
No, I have no idea what they’re talking about, but they need to present their evidence if they make that kind of claim. Yes.

Speaker 9: (16:57)
[inaudible 00:17:07].

Gabriel Sterling: (16:57)
Well the main role they would have is they have expertise in handwriting. So they would be a big part of, I think of the 250, I think it was 18 and I could be wrong, but I think it’s about 18 cases having to do with absentee ballot and absentee ballot handling. So that would be the main thing I think they’d go through. I don’t know the manpower that they’re going to be throwing at the whole thing for all the other cases. And I want to make one other thing clear, the 250 cases is all of 2020 that are still open. From November on is a lower number, a subset, I will try to get that number to y’all because I know that people saying they all came in the general election. That’s not exactly true. It was 250 for all 2020. And it was probably my fault because I put the excel spreadsheet and grabbed everything for 2020 that didn’t count. So I’m going to go back and do that again to get the subset proper. Yeah, Justin.

Justin: (17:46)
[inaudible 00:17:50].

Gabriel Sterling: (17:49)
That’s fine.

Justin: (17:50)
[inaudible 00:17:50].

Gabriel Sterling: (18:09)
Well, there’s a secondary thing about this. Under our state law observers are allowed to be there. They’re not required to be there. That’s the main thing. So this is not illegal counting as it says. Now I understand the frustration, especially on the Republican side, because as I said before, everybody in that room thought they were getting to go home. The workers were leaving, the press like, “Well, we may as well go ahead and leave.” There’s no reason that the election workers and the observers couldn’t take the same thing. They were all literally boxing things up and putting seals on. The doors were not locked. Nobody was kept out. It’s frustrating because I know somebody might’ve said, because there’s no audio to this as a problem. So it’s always going to be he said, she said from now ad infinitum and somebody said, “We’re done for the night.” But nobody said, “All of you people have to leave.” There was nobody directing people to leave. In fact, while people were in the rooms still working, the observers could have stayed for that because things could happen then too as they’re boxing things up.

Gabriel Sterling: (19:10)
So I’m not saying it’s the observer’s fault or the press’s fault. It was a long day for these people. And let’s just use some common sense, which I know is it’s a rare thing to say, that they were tired and wanted to go home. They were frustrated when they didn’t get to go home. So I think everybody’s kind of the impression, they’re leaving, it’s 10:30 at night, let’s let it go. And then they started working again. The irony of this was we can’t win for losing. We call Fulton County to say keep on working. They keep on working. All of a sudden it becomes a giant conspiracy that they worked and nobody was there because they were frustrated they weren’t working long enough. So it’s kind of a circular thing where we’re trying to keep counties diligently working to meet the goal of getting these election results out quickly. And then because there was a miscommunication from the manager to Fulton County to the manager of State Farm who thought they could finish that caused all of this. Yeah. [inaudible 00:19:59].

Justin: (19:58)
[inaudible 00:19:59].

Gabriel Sterling: (20:02)
Okay, that’s fine.

Gabriel Sterling: (20:23)
Well, let’s start with the easy part. The main process is getting the dead voter off the rolls is handled at the County level. They get vital records to come in and they just deal with it. You usually monthly or weekly, depending on the process they have in place. Now, secondarily, as we have made very clear when the ballot envelope is separated from the secrecy sleeve, there is no way to go claw that vote back. It is in the system. Same thing is if somebody goes in early votes in person and gets hit by a car, you can’t go back and get that ballot back out. It’s just physically impossible given the privacy rules in our State. So does that answer your question?

Justin: (21:00)
[inaudible 00:21:05].

Gabriel Sterling: (21:00)
All right.

Justin: (21:05)
Today is the final day for Georgians to register to vote in the January 5th runoff election. It’s usually when their doors close at the registrars if you do it in person. You can go to the online portal, if you have a driver’s license attached to your voter registration, or you have a driver’s license because we can find your information from that. And that goes to 11:59 tonight. Yes.

Gabriel Sterling: (21:33)
As I pointed on the beginning, we’re waiting for Coffee County to do their certification and they took the weekend off and I’ve talked to somebody to talk to the County commission chairman who hasn’t been told yet when they’re having the elections board to get together to do that certification. It has to be today. It will have to be today.

Speaker 13: (21:48)
[inaudible 00:21:54]

Gabriel Sterling: (21:53)
Yeah, probably will. All right, anything else? All right. Thank you all. Bye.