John Solomon, the discredited political smear merchant, is now trying to cook up another scandal to cast doubt on the 2020 presidential election result — this time involving the normal process of ballot adjudication, in which election workers manually review ballots that could not be read by the scanning machines.
Solomon’s headline on his Just The News site, “Georgia ballots rejected by machines were later altered by election workers to count,” suggested that election workers had tampered with ballots to erase or add markings for a vote. But at the same time, Solomon’s post included links to scanned images of the original ballots that a person might be able to look at — along with his own clearly biased descriptions — thus actually demonstrating that original records have all been preserved.
Below is the ballot that Solomon used as his first example, which he had introduced with this description: “The image of the ballot, obtained by Just the News, shows the voter messily scribbled a large blob in the box to select Trump as president while also putting a thinner check mark next to Biden's name.”
Any unbiased person looking at the ballot image would notice that the voter had clearly blotted out a marking next to Trump’s name and put a checkmark next to Biden’s — which also matched up with similar checkmarks for every other race on the ballot. (Looking at the other markings and how the person voted for other races can often provide crucial context to election workers in determining voter intent.)
Solomon appeared Monday on the podcast of former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon, who was conducting his own show this week from the location of the “cyber symposium” by businessman Mike Lindell, which would purportedly demonstrate that the 2020 election was stolen by manipulation of voting machines. Kicking off the interview, Bannon asked Solomon to read the headline from the piece, which Solomon did, as well as his misleading sub-headline claiming that “marks for candidates like Trump were sometimes removed so ballots could count for Biden.”
Toward the end of the interview, Solomon also admitted that many of the 5,000 adjudicated ballots found in Fulton County, Georgia, were adjudicated for other races on the ballot besides the presidency. But he went on to disingenuously call for statewide analysis by saying that “there’s about a thousand that involve the presidential race,” and while they might not be enough to “change the race ... in one county — but statewide, who knows? I mean, we’d have to go do an entire statewide analysis.”
“This is why you need a full, forensic audit of the entire state,” Bannon replied, something he has promoted for all 50 states, and which he and others on his show have claimed would result in the “decertification” of the entire election.
Of course, in a sense the entire state of Georgia already went through a sort of manual adjudication — because the state already had a full hand recount of the 5 million paper ballots back in November. This fact is frequently overlooked by other conspiracy theories about the election in Georgia.
The story gained further pickup on One America News Network, which has avidly covered and even helped raise money for the ongoing Republican-led audit of ballots in Arizona. A monologue by host Natalie Harp on Solomon’s article claimed to expose “the left’s redistribution of ballots.” Solomon also appeared with host Dan Ball, who claimed that “major voter discrepancies have now been found in Georgia — like we kind of already knew, right?”
Solomon’s article also bungled one of the basic facts about mail-in voting in Georgia: “But in 2020, adjudication played a much larger role in states like Georgia, which allowed hundreds of thousands of additional citizens to vote absentee for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In fact, no-excuse absentee voting has been the law in Georgia since 2005. The circumstances of the pandemic contributed to Democratic voters increasingly using the option — which in Georgia had traditionally been used more often by Republican voters.