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In this Oct. 19, 2020 file photo, a voter submits a ballot in an official drop box during early voting in Athens, Ga. (AP) In this Oct. 19, 2020 file photo, a voter submits a ballot in an official drop box during early voting in Athens, Ga. (AP)

In this Oct. 19, 2020 file photo, a voter submits a ballot in an official drop box during early voting in Athens, Ga. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher April 14, 2022

Fact-checking an ad against Georgia’s Brian Kemp, false claims about the 2020 election

If Your Time is short

  • The roughly 5 million ballots cast in Georgia in the November 2020 presidential election were counted three times, including once by hand, and state and local officials found no evidence of systematic voter fraud.  

  • State officials in Georgia — Republicans — certified the results of Georgia’s January 2021 runoff elections for the state’s two U.S. Senate seats, which were won by Democrats.

  • “Ballot harvesting” generally refers to someone collecting absentee ballots on behalf of others and then submitting them to an official drop box. The claim that "widespread illegal ballot harvesting” happened in Georgia is not proven.

Republican voters in Georgia are being told that GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who is seeking re-election, is not up to defeating the expected Democratic nominee, Stacey Abrams.

The warning comes in a TV ad from Get Georgia Right, a conservative super PAC that says its aim is to elect Republicans in Georgia and for president. 

Kemp "dismissed concerns about voter fraud in the 2020 election" and "widespread illegal ballot harvesting continued, electing two Democrat senators," the narrator claims in the 30-second spot, which shows people appearing to place ballots inside drop boxes. 

"If Kemp can’t beat voter fraud, he won’t beat Stacey Adams," the ad said.

The ad does not mention Kemp’s competitor for the Republican nomination in the May 24 primary, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. But Politico reported April 13 that Get Georgia Right is dedicated to defeating Kemp and that it received $500,000 from former President Donald Trump’s Save America PAC. That accounts for nearly all the funds that Get Georgia Right had on hand as of March 31, according to its latest report to the Federal Election Commission. 

There is no evidence to back the ad’s illegal voting claims.

‘Voter fraud in the 2020 election’

The roughly 5 million ballots cast in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election were counted three times, including once by hand. Georgia state and local officials found no evidence of systematic voter fraud. The secretary of state’s office investigated claims about dead or otherwise ineligible voters and debunked allegations of fraud, such as the false claim that election workers in Atlanta were caught on tape secretly counting "suitcases" of fake ballots.

We rated a Perdue claim that the 2020 presidential election and subsequent Georgia Senate runoff elections "were stolen" Pants on Fire

The winners of the runoffs, which were held because no candidate won more than 50% of the vote in the November 2020 elections, are the two Democratic senators the ad alludes to: Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. In the runoffs, Ossoff defeated Perdue and Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, certified those results, affirming that the returns "are a true and correct tabulation of the certified returns received by this office from each county." Kemp signed off on the certification.

Kemp in November 2020 rejected calls from state Republican leaders for a special legislative session to tighten voter residency requirements for the runoffs, saying: "Any changes to Georgia’s election laws made in a special session will not have any impact on an ongoing election and would only result in endless litigation." 

In March 2021, Kemp signed legislation that adds new identification requirements to absentee voting and limits ballot drop boxes.

Kemp’s office said in November 2021 it identified dozens of "inconsistencies" in the 2020 election. But those instances did not warrant an investigation by the state election board, Kemp said

‘Widespread illegal ballot harvesting’

"Ballot harvesting"generally refers to someone collecting absentee ballots on behalf of others and then submitting them to official election drop boxes. 

In Georgia, it is generally illegal to collect and submit multiple mail ballots. Exceptions are made for physically disabled voters.

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Raffensperger in January said that his office was investigating claims of ballot harvesting, but "no one has alleged that those are fraudulent ballots. Those were lawful voters."

So far, claims that widespread fraudulent votes were cast via illegal ballot harvesting remain unproven. 

Get Georgia Right told PolitiFact it obtained videos from various Georgia counties that it said show "tens of thousands of ballots that were cast beyond the single ballot allowed per person using a drop box" in the November 2020 and January 2021 runoff elections, exceeding the margins of victory in the presidential race and both runoffs.

The group did not share those videos with PolitiFact and it did not say whether it had submitted those videos to authorities for an investigation.

Moreover, even if people violated the law by submitting ballots for multiple people, that alone would not make the ballots invalid. The law does not say that illegal ballot harvesting, in and of itself, invalidates the ballots or makes them illegal.

True the Vote, a conservative Texas group that says it works to protect the integrity of elections, in January 2022 also alleged ballot harvesting in the November 2020 and January 2021 elections. Last year, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed on the allegation. 

True the Vote has since said it has a witness, but has yet to reveal the person’s identity. The State Election Board voted March 16 to issue subpoenas to the group to obtain the name of the witness. 

Handicapping the Georgia governor’s race

If neither Perdue nor Kemp gets more than 50% of the primary vote, there will be a runoff on June 21. 

In the Nov. 8 general election, the Republican nominee is expected to face Abrams, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Kemp won his first term as governor in 2018 by defeating Abrams, a former George state lawmaker, by about 50% to 49%. 

Campaign watchers rate the general election as a toss up and "tilts Republican." 

Our ruling

Get Georgia Right, a conservative super PAC, said Kemp "dismissed concerns about voter fraud in the 2020 election" and "widespread illegal ballot harvesting continued, electing two Democrat senators."

Kemp dismissed claims of voter fraud after investigations showed there was no evidence that such fraud happened in the 2020 election or in the January 2021 runoffs. Two Georgia Democrats were elected to the U.S. Senate in the runoffs and their election results were certified by state officials in Georgia who were Republicans.

The claim that illegal ballot harvesting happened in Georgia is not proven.

We rate the claim False.

RELATED: David Perdue’s PolitiFact file

RELATED: Brian Kemp’s PolitiFact file

RELATED: Stacey Abrams’ PolitiFact file

RELATED: Fact-checks about Georgia

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

Fact-checking an ad against Georgia’s Brian Kemp, false claims about the 2020 election

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