Fact Check: NO Evidence 300,000 Ballot Images Are Missing From 2020 Election In Fulton County, Georgia; Results Are NOT Invalid

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: NO Evidence 300,000 Ballot Images Are Missing From 2020 Election In Fulton County, Georgia; Results Are NOT Invalid Safeguards

Is the 2020 presidential election tally in Fulton County, Georgia invalid on account of 300,000 missing ballot images? No, that's not true: The original paper ballots still exist and it's important to understand that the ballot image is not the vote but merely an electronic picture of the ballot for review purposes. Georgia election officials recounted the vote, including counting paper ballots, three times in December 2020 at the request of Donald Trump and certified the results as a win for Joe Biden in the tightly contested race for the White House.

The claim appeared in a post and video (archived here) published on X, formerly Twitter, by John Basham on May 7, 2024. The post's caption says:

BREAKING: Georgia Election Board CONFIRMS Over 300,000 Ballot Images From 2020 ELECTION DAY Are MISSING From #Fulton County #Georgia! This Has Huge Implications In The #FaniWillis Case Against Trump & Associates!

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed May 8 18:05:43 2024 UTC)

The video

The video in the post shows Georgia State Election Board member Janice Johnston asking questions during a May 7, 2024, meeting of the panel, which oversees how counties conduct elections in the state.

While Johnston repeatedly asserted that 380,761 ballot images were missing from the 2020 election count, Fulton County election officials said they weren't aware of the basis of the claim. Additionally, news coverage of the election board (here and here) made no mention of the claim, but they did report that Fulton County was reprimanded for double-scanning more than 3,000 ballots during the 2020 recount. The state board has appointed an independent monitor for Fulton County for the 2024 election.

Bottom line: There is no evidence the election board confirmed over 300,000 ballot images were missing from 2020 Election Day in Fulton County, as the caption to the social media post claims.

Response to claim: Fulton County

In a May 13, 2024, email to Lead Stories, Fulton County Communications Division Manager Regina Waller dismissed as "false" the post's assertion, adding that the "outcome of the Election is unchanged." She continued:

Our electoral processes in Fulton County adhere to SOS [secretary of state] protocols. Our systems are designed to maintain the integrity of the electoral process through paper trails and rigorous audits, to ensure every vote is counted.

Waller added:

We emphasize the importance of relying on credible sources and verified information, particularly when discussing matters as critical as election integrity. Misinformation poses a significant threat to the democratic process, and it is incumbent upon all stakeholders, to exercise diligence and responsibility in disseminating information to the public.

Georgia Secretary of State

In the weeks following the 2020 election, then-President Trump requested a recount, which did not change the results of the slim win by Biden in the state. At a December 7, 2020, news conference, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said, "We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged."

In a May 9, 2024, email to Lead Stories, a spokesman for the secretary of state said there were no missing ballots. He continued:

Two additional reviews of the statewide tallies [following the original count] confirmed that the 2020 election results in Georgia were fair and accurate. Administrative errors in a county conducting that review does not invalidate an election, despite the baseless claims from election deniers.

Political science experts

Trey Hood, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, looked at the claim in the social media post for Lead Stories. In a May 8, 2024, email, he said Johnston's assertion, if it were true, doesn't mean that any ballots were left out of the count. He continued:

In fact, there's no evidence these were excluded.

A ballot image is an electronic scan of a ballot.

Remember there was a hand recount using the printed choices on the paper ballots that confirmed the machine count.

In another May 8, 2024, email response, Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor emeritus at Emory University in Atlanta, said this about the claim in the post:

I am very skeptical. It looks like misinformation or disinformation to me.

Read more

Additional Lead Stories fact checks about U.S. elections can be found here.


  • 2024-05-13T16:25:28Z 2024-05-13T16:25:28Z
    Adds context from Fulton County Communications Division Manager Regina Waller.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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