Election Day 2020 was unusual for several predictable reasons involving high in-person turnout and veritable avalanches of mail-in ballots. One exceptionally odd event, however, took everyone by surprise — vote counting suddenly stopped for hours in several key swing states late Tuesday night. One of these mysterious halts occurred in Fulton County, Georgia, where election officials insisted that a broken water pipe necessitated a four-hour delay before counting of absentee ballots could resume. Yet evidence for what would have been quite a serious plumbing issue has been strangely elusive. There doesn’t appear to be any paperwork involving this leak.
Atlanta lawyer Paul Dzikowski, like many of us who vote in Georgia, was interested in the details of an incident serious enough to stop the vote-counting process for hours yet had been covered only in passing by the news media. As he expressed it in one email to me, “I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that News Corp. from Australia picked up this story from halfway around the world but CNN hasn’t bothered … even though CNN’s headquarters are literally in the same building.” Dzikowski invoked the Georgia Open Records Act last Monday in a written request for copies of all records involving the burst pipe, including memoranda, notes, work orders, requisitions, invoices, and other related repair records.
As News.com.au reports, the response was underwhelming — nothing more than a reproduced text exchange in which the VP of facilities for the Atlanta Hawks (which occupies the same facility in which the ballots were being handled) was asked if the pipe problem would cause vote-counting issues. The answer was, “No sir-it was highly exaggerated-it was a slow leak that caused about an hour and half delay.” This was quickly reiterated by another text indicating that it was a minor event: “We contained it quickly-it did not spread-we just wanted to protect the equipment.” Dzikowski also wrote to Fulton County, which said it had “no responsive records.” Yet the Atlanta Journal-Constitution claimed:
A broken water pipe at the ballot processing site at State Farm arena caused a delay in Fulton County’s ability to process thousands of absentee-by-mail votes Tuesday night.… Tuesday’s delayed tallies for the presidential contest and for key congressional races with consequences that could ripple across the nation.… Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday evening that the pipe burst at 6:07am and was repaired within two hours.
Why then, were Fulton County election workers sent home early Tuesday night when there were still tens of thousands of ballots to count? Once again we have to go overseas to find a news outlet that bothers to report the facts. The Daily Mail reports:
A burst pipe halted the count of absentee ballots in Georgia Tuesday with up to 60,000 votes not counted on Election Night.… The incident happened in a room at State Farm Arena where Fulton County absentee ballots were being counted, registration chief Ralph Jones told the county elections board during a video meeting Tuesday evening.… That caused processing to stop for several hours, but no ballots or equipment were damaged, county officials said. Ballot counters were sent home at 10:30pm.
Why would any state send its election workers home at 10:30pm due to a plumbing problem that had been repaired 14 hours earlier? For the same reason several other swing states did so. On November 3, CNN reported, “Election officials in some states called it a night and planned to resume the count in the morning.” Among them were Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Hilariously, in an article purporting to debunk the claim that swing states stopped counting Tuesday night, USA Today reported, “North Carolina, led by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, stopped counting votes overnight, but not because of Trump — it ran out of votes to count.” This is an odd claim to make for a state that is still counting.
The vote counting was stopped in these states presumably for the purpose of calculating how many fraudulent ballots were needed to forestall a Trump victory and to find them in bloated voter rolls, graveyards, and anywhere else they could be located. This disfranchises honest voters like Paul Dzikowski, and it makes them angry. But honest people don’t burn down buildings and break heads. We seek redress through the legal system, as Dzikowski was at pains to point out to me during our email exchange: “Just so you know, my primary goal (and hope) is that someone in the AG’s office and/or the Secretary of State’s office will investigate the actions of the Fulton Co. Board of Registrations and Elections.”
This, by the way, is precisely what President Trump is doing. He believes he and his supporters have been wronged and, unlike the autocrat his critics imagine him to be, he is seeking legal redress in the courts. This is the right thing to do. Every vote that was potentially created while those Fulton County election officials used the “broken water pipe” to buy time constitutes the very real theft of someone’s right to vote. It is, to use a favorite Democrat trope, voter suppression. Election fraud is all too real, and this is why it matters.