We all remember hearing on election night that ballot counting in Fulton County, GA had suddenly come to a screeching halt due to a burst pipe in the Atlanta Hawks State Farm Arena. The incident seemed significant—and very confusing.
Monday, Nov. 2
Fulton County Commissioner Chair Rob Pitts was confident the county had learned its lesson in the June primary, where new Dominion voting equipment was used (and was a technical disaster), declaring "We're totally prepared for what awaits us tomorrow." Richard Barron, Fulton County Director of Elections echoed that sentiment.
According to Barron, election equipment was still being delivered well into Monday afternoon, with no mention of delivery delays. The county had fixed bugs in the check-in software that had caused "a small technical glitch" when early voting first got underway on Oct. 12.
Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3
Pitts stated the burst pipe at State Farm Arena occurred at 6:07 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, causing no damage to ballots or voting equipment. It was repaired within two hours. Curiously, county officials neglected to mention it during their 10 a.m. press conference that morning.
At 10 a.m., Fulton County officials held a press conference via Zoom to provide an update three hours into Election Day. The meeting included Jessica Corbitt, Director of Fulton County External Affairs; Dick Anderson, Fulton County Board of Commissioners Manager; Pitts and Barron.
A key takeaway from the briefing was the logistical and technical issues that plagued the county before the polls opened. When asked by Corbitt how they solved the technical glitches, Barron replied that using large amounts of technology lends itself to problems, but the new equipment enabled them to log in to the poll pads and fix problems remotely.
Election equipment delivery complications were another concern discussed in the press conference. Barron stated that on Monday, Nov. 2, Beltmann Relocation Group was scheduled to deliver equipment to 30 polling precincts in north Fulton County. At the last minute, the company had trucks but no staff and was unable to make the delivery, leaving the county scrambling to find another way to transfer it. As previously stated, Barron did not mention this fact on Monday.
When asked if they thought there was a political motive behind Beltmann's failure to deliver the equipment, both Anderson and Barron said they thought it was a simple act of "not keeping their commitment." Interestingly, a Beltmann representative told WSB's Mike Petchenik they fulfilled their contract and are "doing more work for [the county] this week." Beltmann is no stranger to working with the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, with existing contracts in place to furnish and install office furniture and move workstations.
Corbitt asked Barron about the current status of absentee ballots (at 10 a.m.), and if they were shooting for an 11 p.m. publication of election results. Barron's response:
"At the moment we are caught up, which means within 24 hours of receipt, they have processed it. [We] expect to release absentee-by-mail results sometime shortly after 10 p.m. of what we've scanned today through 2 p.m. At 7, p.m. close out early voting and upload them, probably take at least an hour to get them into the server. From there, we will start getting our election day results in and then at 10 or so will update absentee by mail again and what I am hoping for by 11 p.m. is to have the bulk of election day results in."
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger shared the same goal. At 8:50 p.m. on election night he declared that by midnight, maybe 1 to 2 a.m., the results from most of the races in his state would be known. He praised Fulton County and its use of State Farm Arena, calling it a "tremendous success."
Neither Barron nor Raffensperger mentioned the burst pipe or that Fulton County would stop counting votes at 10:30 p.m. That quickly became the narrative, however, and no one seems to be exactly sure why. Mainstream media swiftly reported the burst pipe as the reason polls were closing early, leaving a little over 42,000 absentee ballots uncounted. Andy Pierrotti with 11Alive News tweeted this memo from Richard Barron:
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on election night that the plan all along had been to stop counting at 10:30 p.m. But they added that no county official could explain why Fulton was stopping its count of absentee ballots at that time. They quoted a statement from an unnamed county spokeswoman that read:
“As planned, Fulton County will continue to tabulate the remainder of absentee ballots over the next two days. Absentee ballot processing requires that each ballot is opened, signatures verified, and ballots scanned. This is a labor-intensive process that takes longer to tabulate than other forms of voting. Fulton County did not anticipate having all absentee ballots processed on Election Day.”
Still, as it turns out, vote counting did not actually stop at 10:30 p.m. in Fulton County. At 12:38 a.m., an official in Fulton County said "some work" was still being done with ballots at State Farm Arena.
After The Election
Following the Nov. 3 announcement of the burst pipe, conflicting reports said absentee ballot counting was delayed anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Georgia resident and attorney Paul J. Dzikowski, under the Georgia Open Records Act, sent a letter requesting any information on the water main break at State Farm Arena. In response, he received text messages from Geoffrey Stiles, the Sr. Vice President of the Atlanta Hawks. Stiles described the situation as a "slow leak" that was "contained quickly." He described the entire thing as "highly exaggerated."
As noted by former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, the extraordinary administrator privileges installed in the Dominion voting systems used across the state are well documented. They could easily allow for a candidate's come-from-behind victory with a margin in the tens of thousands of votes thanks to getting hundreds of thousands of votes fraudulently.
It was revealed earlier this week that all ballot boxes in Georgia, including Fulton County, are monitored by video cameras. The footage is stored for 30 days and available to the public upon request. Trump attorney Lin Wood is currently urging Georgia residents to make requests for this footage. Wood tweeted:
On Wednesday evening, Nov. 25, Lin Wood's emergency motion for expedited review of the lawsuit challenging the validity of GA election procedure was granted. Wood tweeted:
Biden's lead over Trump in Georgia is less than 12,800 votes. The election in Fulton County, and other counties in the state, could be described as catastrophic, despite repeated assurances from the county election commission.
An accurate count of all legal votes will play a pivotal role in determining whether President Trump carries Georgia as he did four years ago, or whether the state will ultimately go to Democrat Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, on the cusp of Thanksgiving Day, Sidney Powell filed her lawsuit in Georgia.
In her lawsuit, Powell alleged that the only water leak in need of repair at State Farm Arena on Nov. 3 was a toilet that overflowed. In an arena with more than 72 restrooms in 1.7 million square feet of space, it seems safe to assume that ballot counting was not being done near a bathroom.