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Georgia county destroyed election waste, not ballots

November 21, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Cobb County, Georgia election officials improperly destroyed ballots on the morning of Nov. 20.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Cobb County election officials hired a shredding company to destroy “non-relevant” materials after the election. No ballots or materials relevant to the vote tally were destroyed.

THE FACTS: A video on Twitter with more than 500,000 views falsely claims to show ballots being destroyed in Cobb County on Friday, Nov. 20.

The video began to circulate the same day Georgia’s governor and top election officials certified election results showing Joe Biden won the state.

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In the video, a female narrator says, “I’m watching all of these ballots being shredded now. Unbelievable.” 

The video shows personnel transporting bins to a truck from a recycling and shredding company. 

L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who sued in an attempt to block the certification of election results in Georgia, shared the video and wrote, “Looks to me like they may be destroying election documents in Cobb County, GA. What do you think? #FightBack Against Election Crimes.”

In fact, no ballots or anything relevant to the tally of vote were destroyed, according to county officials. 

“The shredding company routinely responds to the Elections Department following an election to help dispose of non-relevant materials that cannot be easily disposed of,” reads a statement issued by Cobb County in response to claims on social media.

Those non-relevant materials included, mailing labels with voter data, addressed envelopes, duplicate applications, printed e-mails, and outdated policies, according to the statement.

“None of these items are relevant to the election or the re-tally,” said Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, in the statement.  Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file.”

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Under federal law, ballots, applications and records relating to the vote for federal offices must be preserved for 22 months. 

The shredding company responded early Friday to the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta, where local officials had carried out the state-ordered re-tally of votes, according to the county’s statement.

“After an out-of-context video was shared on social media we contacted state officials to reassure them this was a routine clean-up operation and they could come to inspect our stored materials if they wished,” Eveler said in the statement.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.


Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536