An Atlanta-area election worker is in hiding after receiving threats related to a viral video that shows him crumpling and throwing away a piece of paper, leading to false accusations of him tossing out a ballot, a local election official said in a press conference Friday night.
Richard Barron, the Fulton County, Georgia Director of Registration and Elections Barron said officials reviewed the video taken by someone in the ballot processing area of the center and uploaded to Twitter, and determined that the worker did not discard a ballot.
“The answer is, no — undeniably no,” Barron said.
The footage shows a county poll worker assigned to the absentee ballot processing who is operating one of five ballot cutting machines, Barron said, adding that the devices are used to cut envelopes in order to separate the outer envelope from the inner envelope. The paper that is being crumpled and thrown away is a list of instructions that was placed into one of the envelopes, Barron said, adding that the voters often return the “list of instructions, like the one discarded in the primary absentee ballot envelope, when submitting their ballots in the mail and or drop boxes.”
The video, which has been shared on social media, has been viewed millions of times with a number of people falsely accusing the worker was tampering with a ballot.
“At no time was the poll worker able to extract a ballot. I operated one of those machines,” Barron said. “The only thing you do at that station is separating the envelopes and cutting them. The ballot extraction happens at the next stage of the process, and valid extraction only occurs with the workers who are assigned to those sorting duties.”
After reviewing the footage, Barron said he contacted the worker, who told him he has left his home, is staying with friends and is “afraid to drive his car because the information about his car and his license plate is out there.
“He is currently in hiding because he’s had threats. He’s had to shut down all of his social media, and … all of his personal information was released,” Barron said. “Personally, I think it’s shameful.
Barron said the worker, who has not been officially identified, was among election employees who trained others how to use the cutting machines “because he was very good at it and he was the fastest one.”
“We depended on him, and he’s no longer out there right now,” Barron said. “I expressed my sorrow and that all of this has happened to him, simply for wanting to be an election worker and doing nothing but a good job during that.
Barron added that no threats have been sent to his office, adding that there are “preliminary discussions” underway to provide the worker security.