Burst Pipe Conspiracy Theories, Fulton County's State Farm Arena, Georgia

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
2020-11-30_09-50-54.jpg

Article:
Statement Regarding Absentee Ballot Tabulation at State Farm Arena

NOV 3, 2020
At approximately 6:07 a.m
., the staff at State Farm Arena notified Fulton County Registration & Elections of a water leak affecting the room where absentee ballots were being tabulated. The State Farm Arena team acted swiftly to remediate the issue. Within 2 hours, repairs were complete. No ballots were damaged, nor was any equipment affected. There was a brief delay in tabulating absentee ballots while the repairs were being conducted.

Tonight Fulton County will report results for approximately 86,000 absentee ballots, as well as Election Day and Early Voting results. These represent the vast majority of ballots cast within Fulton County.


The above statement was posted on the State Farm Arena web site on Oct 3, but it's actually from Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez, director of external affairs for the Fulton County Government. It was reported by various local media outlets like 10 WBNS.

Just to be clear, the leak happened early morning on election day, Nov 3rd. It was resolved in about two hours.

The conspiracy theory speculation started in earnest with a claim by Donald Trump on Thursday, November 5th, 2020 (two days after the election)



Again this was explained by local media.
Article:
Trump: "In Georgia there was a pipe burst – in a faraway location that was unrelated to the location of what was happening and they stopped counting for four hours. And, a lot of things happened"

This claim is FALSE.

The pipe that burst in Georgia created a water leak that affected the room where absentee ballots were being tabulated. No ballots or equipment were damaged and repairs were completed in two hours.


The theory has gradually evolved into this, from a frequent promoter of Conspiracy Theories, the Gateway Pundit
Article:
By Joe Hoft
Published November 11, 2020 at 9:26am
On election night in Georgia President Trump was running away with the Presidential election, then suddenly it was reported that vote counting had stopped in Fulton County due to a water main break in Atlanta.
...
What really happened on election night in Atlanta and what was the real reason they stopped counting tens of thousands of absentee votes until the next day?


The theory is that the counting was paused at night in order to rig the election somehow, presumably by adding in a bunch of Biden ballots. The water leak was supposedly cover for this.

However, this theory fails for two reasons.

Firstly, the water leak happened at 6AM, not in the evening. The counting of the ballots in the State Farm Arena began at 11AM.

Secondly, the overnight pause was planned in advance, and was not the result of the water leak.
Article:
By 5 p.m., Fulton had scanned 86,191 of the 130,517 absentee-by-mail ballots received, which doesn’t include the ballots received in today’s mail.

Elections board member Mark Wingate told reporters he believes the county won’t have definitive results until later this week. Fulton County Director of Registration and Elections Richard Barron said they will stop counting absentee ballots at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 3, and resume in the morning.

As planned, Fulton County will continue to tabulate the remainder of absentee ballots over the next two days. Absentee ballot processing requires that each ballots is opened, signatures verified, and ballots scanned.


So the delay was always a planned delay, simply to allow election workers to sleep.

It's also useful context to compare this with the 2016 election where Trump won Georgia against Hilary Clinton.

2020-11-30_11-16-04.jpg
Soruce: https://www.fultoncountyga.gov/services/voting-and-elections/search-elections?query=2016 general election&filters={5D0925DE-7C70-40DA-8E3E-05E516D2225A}&sortBy=relevance&page=1

Fulton was 117,783 Trump to 297,051 Clinton.
2020-11-30_11-17-23.jpg

Not unexpectedly different, they were numbers that were confirmed by the hand recount quality audit, and will almost certainly be confirmed by the current machine recount.

Why both with this burst pipe story? These things have a way of becoming accepted mythology in conspiracy circles. The idea of a burst pipe being faked to delay election results is much easier to understand than some of the statistical claims, and so it's an easy thing to share on social media. Years from now I expect this story to be repeated in the same way the false "magic bullet" JFK theory is repeated.

So I think it's valuable to gather the relevant information now, as it may be harder to find years from now.
 

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The issue was further confused (and the conspiracies amplified by mixed descriptions of what happened, with some outlets spuriously reporting it as a "water main break"

Article:
Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 10:20 PM PST
FULTON COUNTY, Ga. (WVLT) - Nearly 40,000 absentee ballots will not be counted for the state of Georgia until at least Wednesday after a water main break, Fulton County officials said.

According to officials, a water main break at State Farm Arena caused a pipe to burst. The burst pipe was discovered around 6 a.m. Counting of the ballots began at 11 a.m.


Other outlets describe is simply as a "pipe break" or "pipe burst"
Article:
FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- According to Fox 5, Fulton County has a delay with processing and counting tens of thousands of absentee ballots due to a pipe break in the State Farm Arena.

Election officials report that the pipe burst in the early morning hours of election day and caused a delay in processing ballots between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.


Article:
A burst pipe in the ceiling of Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, where Fulton County election officials had set up their vote-counting command center this fall, was perhaps the easiest of the challenges the staff faced in this singular year.

Water splattering on the floor halted counting for two hours on Election Day, but it didn’t damage any ballots.


And still others simply as "water leak", which was the official description
Article:
"At approximately 6:07 a.m., the staff at State Farm Arena notified Fulton County Registration and Elections of a water leak affecting the room where absentee ballots were being tabulated," a statement sent to FOX 5 from Fulton County reads in part.


A text message obtained by a lawyer investigating this described it as a "slow leak"2020-11-30_13-25-06.jpg

Article:
a text message exchange between an unidentified person and Geoffrey Stiles, vice president of facilities for the Atlanta Hawks NBA team.

“I just heard a water pipe burst at SFA that will cause vote count delay. Has this affected the AFCRA office? I think they were counting votes next door,” the sender, believed by Mr Dzikowski to be Mr Stewart, wrote at 7.42pm.

“No sir – it was highly exaggerated – it was a slow leak that caused about an hour and a half delay,” Mr Stiles replied at 7.43pm. “We contained it quickly – it did not spread – we just wanted to protect the equipment.”
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The theory was formalized in The Sydney Powell lawsuit, coming up in a few places:

2020-11-30_13-49-54.jpg2020-11-30_13-51-52.jpg2020-11-30_13-52-58.jpg

2020-11-30_13-53-40.jpg

They seem to be conflating two different things here - the decision to close the counting for the night, and the water leak. The counting was always going to be stopped for the night, as they repeat there in the filling, the county did not anticipate counting all the ballots on the first day.

Counting was not stopped because of the leak, counting was less far along than it would have been because of the leak.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
2020-11-30_14-12-51.jpg
(source)
This reporter describes it as a water main break above the room he is standing in, and that they lost about two hours of work.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The pipe-burst theory ties into allegations of "unsupervised counting", concerns about which were first raised on Nov 4 by Republicans who said that counting was proceeding with no observers present
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R78LxJoncMY

In the video Trey Kelley of the local GOP says someone was counting for two hours after everyone went home.

Conspiracists say the leak was faked to send people home. But as noted above, people were not sent home because of the leak. They were sent home to sleep because it was clear they were not going to finish that night.
 

kazyoul

New Member
The theory was formalized in The Sydney Powell lawsuit, coming up in a few places:

2020-11-30_13-49-54.jpg2020-11-30_13-51-52.jpg2020-11-30_13-52-58.jpg

2020-11-30_13-53-40.jpg

They seem to be conflating two different things here - the decision to close the counting for the night, and the water leak. The counting was always going to be stopped for the night, as they repeat there in the filling, the county did not anticipate counting all the ballots on the first day.

Counting was not stopped because of the leak, counting was less far along than it would have been because of the leak.
How do you verify that https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_...cle_b66b673c-1e3e-11eb-b5dc-8b49c736473d.html was posted on Nov 3rd?
Archive.org has no record prior to the 13th.
Did you confirm that the dating of the article is correct?
Edit - Okay, saw the publish date in meta data:


<meta itemprop="dateCreated" content="2020-11-03T20:40:00-05:00">
<meta itemprop="datePublished" content="2020-11-03T20:40:00-05:00">
<meta itemprop="dateModified" content="2020-11-03T20:40:00-05:00">

But then my next question is, but the following now has me curious:

"Fulton County election officials will reassess the situation at 10 p.m. to determine how to proceed but said it will be a late night in Fulton County for results."

At 10pm, they said it would be a late night in Fulton.... with plans of stopping at 10:30pm?

https://wgxa.tv/news/beyond-the-pod...elay-in-absentee-vote-counts-in-fulton-county





"ATLANTA — The Fulton County Registration and Elections Department now says it will continue counting ballots tonight, after officials initially said it would stop counting mail-in ballots at 10:30 p.m., and resume the count Wednesday morning. Fulton is Georgia's most populous county, and includes most of the city of Atlanta.

This means there will be no decisive results for Fulton County on Tuesday night, which will affect when the results for Georgia, overall, are known."

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/20...92/ncrd1246236?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_np#blogHeader
 
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Philosophami

New Member
Hi, I'm a new member. Maybe it's that I'm unused to the format the site uses but I'm a little unclear on one point. Is the source of the conspiracy Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez's mistaken claim that "[t]here was a brief delay in tabulating absentee ballots while the repairs were being conducted"? I.e., there actually wasn't a delay since the break during which the leak occurred had been schedule (and counting wasn't scheduled to resume until 11AM).

Thank you.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Hi, I'm a new member. Maybe it's that I'm unused to the format the site uses but I'm a little unclear on one point. Is the source of the conspiracy Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez's mistaken claim that "[t]here was a brief delay in tabulating absentee ballots while the repairs were being conducted"? I.e., there actually wasn't a delay since the break during which the leak occurred had been schedule (and counting wasn't scheduled to resume until 11AM).

Thank you.
Where do you get 11AM from? Please quote sources.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
At 10pm, they said it would be a late night in Fulton.... with plans of stopping at 10:30pm?

https://wgxa.tv/news/beyond-the-pod...elay-in-absentee-vote-counts-in-fulton-county
Read carefully:
Article:
Fulton County Election officials report as of 7:00 p.m., 30,000 absentee ballots were still not processed.
[..]
Fulton County election officials will reassess the situation at 10 p.m. to determine how to proceed but said it will be a late night in Fulton County for results.

This means that
-- at 7:00 pm, the election officals spoke to the press
-- they were going to count at least until 10 pm
-- 10 pm is a "late night"
-- at 10 pm, which means 3 hours from when they had said that, they were going to determine how to proceed

From other information we know that they determined not to proceed at 10 pm, and then stopped by 10:30. Presumably, they'd let poll workers finish their batches and clear their tables.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Where do you get 11AM from? Please quote sources.
you quoted it in your second post.

10 pm is a "late night"

10 pm isnt a late night on election night.

I think that was just the reporters way of telling it's readers "go to bed. if we do know any results somewhat definitively tonight*, it won't be til really late if they decide to continue counting". That's what my American ear hears anyway... go to bed.

Your other 3 statements i agree with.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The counting of the ballots in the State Farm Arena began at 11AM.

(and counting wasn't scheduled to resume until 11AM).

you quoted it in your second post.

Yeah, that's when it began on Nov 3rd, after the delay from the leak. @Philosophami says that's when it was "scheduled to resume", but as there was a delay, it must have been originally scheduled earlier, like 9 AM. I don't think they rescheduled, just started as soon as possible, after the leak was fixed and water was cleaned up
 

kazyoul

New Member
Read carefully:
Article:
Fulton County Election officials report as of 7:00 p.m., 30,000 absentee ballots were still not processed.
[..]
Fulton County election officials will reassess the situation at 10 p.m. to determine how to proceed but said it will be a late night in Fulton County for results.

This means that
-- at 7:00 pm, the election officals spoke to the press
-- they were going to count at least until 10 pm
-- 10 pm is a "late night"
-- at 10 pm, which means 3 hours from when they had said that, they were going to determine how to proceed

From other information we know that they determined not to proceed at 10 pm, and then stopped by 10:30. Presumably, they'd let poll workers finish their batches and clear their tables.
So between 10 and 10:30, they sent ballot watchers home, then decided to continue to count?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
So between 10 and 10:30, they sent ballot watchers home, then decided to continue to count?
What exactly did the 6 and then 3 people do who stayed behind?
Did they count, or were they occupied with other tasks?
Had all precincts stopped counting, or were there still tallies coming in from them?
 

kazyoul

New Member
https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/...der-a-table-after-poll-workers-dismissed.html

This report has quotes from election officials disputing that observers were ever sent home that night. They left when the people tasked with opening the envelopes were dismissed for the night, but at no point were told or asked to leave.
So they had Initially stated that they would stop counting at 10/10:30.
They weren't sure yet if they were going to continue counting.
Aren't they signed affidavits from poll watchers stating they were told that the vote counting was being stopped until morning?
I've read that there's one republican poll watcher that stars he was there at the time of the video of the batches under the table being counted.
How that person won't reveal their name, and hasn't signed an affidavit?
I'd much prefer leaning towards named people signing a legal document, over an anonymous source.
 

derwoodii

Senior Member.
What exactly did the 6 and then 3 people do who stayed behind?
Did they count, or were they occupied with other tasks?
Had all precincts stopped counting, or were there still tallies coming in from them?


an explanation from this link suggest its was routine recheck of the ballot numbers part of the recount process.

https://www.gpb.org/news/2020/12/03/fact-check-video-doesnt-show-election-fraud-in-georgia

As for what the video shows him doing, the worker was conducting a routine check of the number of ballots that had been recounted, Sterling, the voting system implementation manager in Georgia, explained in a phone interview with FactCheck.org. He was using a USB drive to transfer a report about a recently counted batch of ballots to a computer equipped with a program to read it.

“This is just part of the recount process,” Sterling said, estimating that the procedure shown in the video might be done every hour or two.

In Gwinnett County, where the video was recorded, Biden won 58% of the vote. That percentage didn’t change after the audit, although Trump did pick up an additional 285 votes out of a total of 415,507 ballots cast
 
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