On September 20 2022, discussions about a “fake elector” in Georgia appeared on several of Reddit’s subreddits:
A post shared to r/WhitePeopleTwitter (above) referenced an individual in Georgia, a “fake elector” working on behalf of the campaign of former United States President Donald Trump. The depicted tweet was shared by @emmersbrown on September 20 2022; it said:
Trump “fake elector” said she visited elections office for a few mins on the day of an alleged voting-data breach in Georgia. Video shows she was there for more than 4 hours & took a selfie w/ a member of the team working under contract with Sidney Powell.Fake ElectorsFake Electors
Google Trends data measured significant search interest for “fake elector[s]” on September 20 2022. Related searches with “Breakout” levels of interest included “Cathy Latham,” and “what is a fake elector?”
Fake Electors and the November 2020 United States General Election
The Trump fake electors plot involved a scheme devised after the 2020 United States presidential election by president Donald Trump and his allies in seven key states to create and submit fraudulent certificates of ascertainment that falsely asserted Trump had won the electoral college vote in those states. The intent of the scheme was to pass the fraudulent certificates to then-vice president Mike Pence in the hope he would count them, rather than the authentic certificates, and thus overturn Joe Biden’s victory …
… Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani coordinated the scheme across the seven states. Trump, Eastman, and Giuliani spoke to some 300 Republican state legislators in an effort to persuade them to convene special legislative sessions to replace legitimate Biden electors with fake Trump electors; dozens of those legislators asked Pence to delay the election certification for that purpose. Trump pressured the Justice Department to falsely announce it had found election fraud, and he attempted to install a new acting attorney general who had drafted a letter falsely asserting such election fraud had been found in an attempt to persuade the Georgia legislature to convene and reconsider its Biden electoral votes.
In late July 2022, the New York Times published an in-depth explanation of the scheme involving fake electors. It covered the history and mechanics involved, along with details about investigations into broader efforts to disrupt or overturn the election:
The fake electors tactic caught the attention of state law enforcement officials around the beginning of this year , and soon became a focus of the inquiry being conducted by the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 .
In Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis, has notified 16 people who identified themselves as the state’s pro-Trump electors that they are targets in an ongoing criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia.
In Washington, the Justice Department’s inspector general obtained a warrant to search the home of a former department official, Jeffrey Clark, as part of its 18-month long investigation into attempts by Justice Department employees to undo the election.
Mr. Clark pressured the nation’s top prosecutors to send a letter to Georgia state officials falsely stating, among other things, that the legislature should create an alternative slate of electors that supported Mr. Trump.
The state of Georgia entered the election interference news cycle early, and the Atlanta-Journal Constitution published a comprehensive, undated timeline: “How the campaign to undermine Georgia’s election unfolded.”
Georgia’s Role in the Timeline of Election Interference
As efforts to disrupt the inauguration of Joe Biden continued, Georgia took on a prominent role in the story.
On the timeline offered by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, January 2 2021 was headlined, “A Busy Day.” An extremely notable incident on that date was the “Trump-Raffensperger phone call,” third on the timeline for that date:
- Trump, attorney John Eastman and Trump administration officials participate in a telephone conference with nearly 300 state legislators. According to a press release, the purpose was to “review the extensive evidence of irregularities and lawlessness in the 2020 presidential election.” According to The Washington Examiner, Trump told the lawmakers they were the only path to stopping Biden’s election.
- It’s unclear whether any Georgia legislators participated in the Zoom call. But that same day 16 Georgia Republican legislators sign a letter to Vice President Mike Pence. Among them are state Sens. Brandon Beach, Matt Brass, Greg Dolezal, Burt Jones and William Ligon. The letter, which appeared on Ligon’s state Senate stationery, urges Pence to “delay the count of votes of the Electoral College for 12 days for further investigation of fraud, irregularities and misconduct in the November 2020 general election.” Legislators in four other states wrote similar letters to Pence.
- Trump phones Brad Raffensperger, pressuring the secretary of state to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia. “I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes, give me a break,” Trump says to Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel, Ryan Germany. “We have that in spades already. Or we can keep it going, but that’s not fair to the voters of Georgia because they’re going to see what happened.” Trump had called Raffensperger 18 times before the secretary agreed to take the call. Raffensperger says he resisted taking the president’s call because of the pending lawsuit Trump’s campaign and the Georgia GOP had filed against him.
Fourth on the list for January 2 2021 was a section about the “fake electors” scheme:
- U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah receives a two-page memo from the White House written by Trump attorney John Eastman, according to The Washington Post. Eastman, also a law professor, had told Georgia lawmakers in December  that they could send an alternative slate of electors to the Electoral College. Eastman’s memo argues that Vice President Mike Pence can refuse to certify the official electors in disputed states while presiding over the joint session of Congress at which electoral ballots are formally counted. Trump repeatedly urges Pence to toss out the election results.
“Electors” appeared again on January 6 2021 in the section with the title, “Effort to invalidate Georgia’s results collapses,” which offered context for the focus on and in the state of Georgia against the backdrop of the deadly attack on the United States Capitol:
- State Sen. William Ligon waits by the phone in a Washington hotel, prepared to help members of Congress who were trying to justify invalidating Georgia’s electors. Trump’s team had asked him to be available to answer questions about fraud allegations in Georgia. Ligon would have told elected officials he doubted Georgia’s election results that showed Biden won by 12,000 votes. The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol derails Ligon’s plans.
- During the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, members of Congress flee the violence but later return to certify the election. Six of Georgia’s eight Republican House members – Rick Allen, Buddy Carter, Andrew Clyde, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk – vote to invalidate election results in other states, even after the violent assault. The move is rejected by a bipartisan group that includes Georgia Republican U.S. Reps. Drew Ferguson and Austin Scott. Four Republicans – Allen, Carter, Greene and Hice – support invalidating Georgia’s election results. The move goes nowhere after U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler – who had planned to vote to invalidate Georgia’s election results – changes her mind after the insurrection.
There was also a link to a copy of the “Eastman memo,” published by CNN in September 2021.
September 2022 Developments Involving a Fake Elector in Georgia
A popular September 20 2022 r/politics post described “new footage” of access obtained by a fake elector in Georgia:
That post linked to a September 20 2022 CNN article with the same title as the post. It identified the fake elector as Cathy Latham, the date of the footage as January 7 2021, and added that the video contradicted Latham’s previous claims about the breach.
Noting that the clip showed that Latham “remained in the office for hours as those same operatives set up computers near election equipment and appear to access voting data,” CNN reported:
Newly obtained surveillance video shows for the first time what happened inside a Georgia county elections office the day its voting systems are known to have been breached on January 7, 2021.
A Republican county official in Georgia and operatives working with an attorney for former President Donald Trump spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office that day. Among those seen in the footage is Cathy Latham, a former GOP chairwoman of Coffee County who is under criminal investigation for posing as a fake elector in 2020.
CNN previously reported that Latham escorted operatives working with former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell through the front door of the elections office on January 7, 2021. The new footage appears to undercut previous claims by Latham that she was not “personally involved” in the breach.
According to CNN, the clip was obtained as part of a years-long civil lawsuit in Georgia. A September 6 2022 NBC News article, “Surveillance video shows Georgia ‘fake elector’ escorting operatives into elections office before alleged data breach,” addressed footage of Latham captured outside the office:
Latham was one of nearly a dozen of Georgia’s “fake electors” who sought to quash a subpoena to appear before the Fulton County special grand jury that is hearing evidence in a criminal probe into possible 2020 election interference by former President Donald Trump and his allies.
Latham was identified as a target of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation after she submitted false certifications, along with 15 other people, declaring Trump the winner in Georgia after he lost to Joe Biden.
On September 20 2022, the New York Times covered information brought to light by its release:
The new videos also show that some of the Trump allies who visited Coffee County were given access to a storage room, and that various people affiliated with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or his allies, had access to the building over several days [in January 2021].
The new footage also shows Cathy Latham, then the head of the county’s Republican Party, with members of the Trump team, standing together in an office where the county’s poll pads were laid out on a table. Ms. Latham is among the targets of a criminal investigation in Atlanta, related to her participation as one of an alternate slate of electors who tried to overturn Mr. Trump’s loss in Georgia. That investigation, which is being led by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, has also touched on what took place in Coffee County.
In a court filing late Monday evening [September 19 2022], the plaintiffs in the civil case assailed what they called “the persistent refusal of Latham and her counsel to be straight with this court about the facts.” They accused her of downplaying her involvement with the Trump team when “she literally directed them on what to collect in the office.”
Slates of “fake electors” organized as part of an effort to overturn the 2020 election re-entered the news cycle in September 2022, as footage obtained in the course of a civil lawsuit came to widespread notice. At least one individual identified as a “fake elector” was seen in the footage, which demonstrated operatives involved in the scheme had access to voting equipment and records for hours at a time.