Willful Ignorance? Eric Metaxas Clings to Voter Fraud Conspiracy Theories That Have Been Repeatedly Debunked

Despite the fact the President Donald Trump has less than a week left in his presidency, some of his most ardent supporters continue to hold regular prayer calls in which they ask God to perform a miracle that will allow Trump to remain in office.

A group of these activists gathered Wednesday night for a “Global Prayer Call,” the 23rd such call they’ve held since the election, during which right-wing author, radio host, and Trump-cultist Eric Metaxas continued to baselessly insist that the election was stolen from Trump through massive voter fraud.

“Give us transparency,” Metaxas said, ​referring to a video that showed election workers using the normal process for unpacking paper ballots stored in document cases. “Show us why did those people roll out suitcases when everybody took off, and why did they pull out votes? What was that? Can you give us an explanation? There are innumerable stories like this. No one dealt with it. They said, ‘Shut up, shut up, shut up,’ and they wanted to run out the clock.”

The deep irony at the heart of the right-wing conspiracy theory alleging that the election was stolen is that those who promote it inevitably insist that the press and elected officials have refused to even investigate their claims when, in reality, their claims have been repeatedly debunked, but conspiracy theorists like Metaxas refuse to acknowledge the truth.

In the case of the allegation peddled by Metaxas that Georgia election workers pulled out a hidden “suitcase” filled with fraudulent ballots after election observers had been sent home on election night, that claim has been debunked countless times.

The New York Times debunked it:

Gabriel Sterling, the voting implementation manager in Georgia and a Republican, said in the news conference that watching the entire surveillance footage of Election Day showed that workers had first packed the suitcases with valid, uncounted ballots and then later unpacked those same ballots. They had not taken out suitcases full of fake ballots, he said.

“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, 10:30 at night,” Mr. Sterling said.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution debunked it:

Election workers had put uncounted absentee ballots in ballot containers when they thought they were going home for the night around 10 p.m. on Nov. 3, said Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system manager.

Then a Fulton County elections official told poll watchers and media that ballot counting was done for the night after a long day of work. No one was forced to leave, said Richard Barron, the county’s elections director.

Ballot counting resumed soon afterward when the secretary of state’s office asked Fulton to keep working, Sterling said. Video shows the elections manager taking a phone call and informing staff that their work wasn’t done. Though poll watchers were gone, the process was recorded, and a monitor from the secretary of state’s office arrived about an hour later.

Election workers unpacked absentee ballots from their containers, which were ballot storage containers, not “suitcases.” Then they resumed counting until about 1 a.m.

Fox News debunked it:

Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins debunked claims made on his own network that “mysterious” suitcases filled with ballots contributed to voter fraud in the Georgia election.

The 90-second clip, which was shared by President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani at a hearing before Georgia’s Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Thursday, shows election workers in Fulton County rolling containers—which Fox News reporters claimed were “suitcases”—from underneath a table at the State Farm Arena where ballot-counting took place on November 3. Jenkins, after speaking with Georgia officials, said on Friday morning that reports claiming the video showed unsupervised voter fraud were “simply not true.”

“I just got off the phone with a senior source in the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office, a Republican, who tells me that they had a designated observer at that spot all night, the entire time, and they’ve seen this video, they’re familiar with the claims, and they said that they’re simply not true,” Jenkins said in a report on Friday morning. “The suggestion that Georgia vote counters were sent home and ballots were brought in in suitcases, also not true.”

AFP debunked it:

Frances Watson, the chief investigator in the office of Georgia’s secretary of state, testified on December 5 that “our investigation and review of the entire security footage revealed that there were no mystery ballots that were brought in from an unknown location and hidden under tables as had been reported by some.”

The ballots in question were packed up because “the employees thought that they were done for the night and were closing up and ready to leave. When the counting continued into later into the night, those boxes were opened so that the ballots inside could then be counted.”

PolitiFact debunked it:

In reality, the ballots seen in the surveillance footage were not in suitcases or trunks. They were in “normal absentee ballot carriers,” Sterling said.

The ballots were removed from their envelopes while news media personnel and observers were still in the room, and there was no formal announcement for observers to leave. But some observers took off once the election workers responsible for cutting the envelopes open and verifying the ballots inside had finished their job and started packing up for the night.

Workers tasked with scanning the ballots got instructions to keep going, and an independent monitor and investigator oversaw the ballot counting as it continued into the night, Sterling said.

Forbes debunked it:

In reality, the video doesn’t appear to show fraud and is not even particularly suspicious: The supposed “suitcases” were actually normal, unexciting ballot containers, an investigator for the Georgia Secretary of State told fact-checking site Lead Stories, and state officials who reviewed the tape have said it showed standard processing of ballots.

Plus, the state investigator told Lead Stories that partisan election observers were never told to leave the counting room on election night, but instead left voluntarily after some staff members went home — and although Democratic and Republican observers are allowed to watch vote-counting in Georgia, they are not required to be present (the Secretary of State’s office told Forbes it is investigating why partisan observers left before ballot-scanning ended).

An independent state-appointed monitor was also present during vote-counting in Atlanta, and did not find any indications of illegal counting, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office told Forbes.

FactCheck.org debunked it:

But the supposed “suitcases” were typical ballot containers used to secure ballots, Georgia’s Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs told us in a phone interview. Likewise, Matthew Mashburn, the state Senate’s appointee to the state election board, told us the video showed “standard secure containers that are ubiquitous in tabulation in Georgia.”

And Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, said that the full video showed that the containers were carrying ballots that were opened and processed earlier in the night. They weren’t suspicious ballots brought surreptitiously into the building, or ballots that were opened in secret.

USA Today debunked it:

The video of the activities of the poll workers is not doctored or significantly altered. Insinuations that workers were packing away these ballots for nefarious purposes, however, are incorrect.

In reality, the workers were not placing the ballots in suitcases, but their proper storage containers. They were doing this because they thought their work was done for the day, and they could leave.

Snopes debunked it:

In sum, no evidence showed poll workers at the Atlanta site conspired together to hide one or more ballots from Republican observers. Additionally, elections officials said the footage did not show suitcases, but rather standard bins for transporting ballots.

The National Review debunked it:

The suitcases aren’t actually suitcases, but standard crates used for absentee ballots.

There’s a dispute about whether observers were told to leave or not — election officials say there was a misunderstanding and the Republican observers assumed the counting was over for the night because the “cutters” who open the absentee-ballot envelopes had finished and were leaving.

Regardless, at no point was the process closed to anyone and everyone knew, or should have known, that there were cameras all over the place. For a while there were no Republican observers in the room, but everything that occurred during this period is on tape — because the entire day is on tape. State officials who were briefly absent returned to observe the rest of the count.

Contrary to Metaxas’ claim, an explanation debunking this claim of voter fraud has been presented widely and repeatedly, but it is he and other Trump dead-enders who refuse to acknowledge the facts as they endlessly espouse their baseless conspiracy theories.