SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix released a statement Friday afternoon dispelling rumors about ballots being found in a dumpster outside the Election’s Office late Thursday night.
Dix says all that was found in the dumpster was empty envelopes. All ballots had been taken out and counted before the envelopes were thrown away.
“There has been a great deal of bad information, misinformation, rumor, and gossip over the chain of events that occurred last night at the Spalding County Elections Office,” Dix said in his statement.
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He says officers responded to the Election’s Office three times on Thursday.
The first was about observers being denied access into the office.
“The complainants were told to contact the Secretary of State’s Office and the report documenting the complaint would be available to them,” Dix said.
A short time later, a Griffin officer and the Spalding County supervisor returned to the office after Election Office employees called and asked for an escort to their vehicles.
“There again was no incident and all was peaceful,” Dix said.
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The third call is the one that has created a barrage of rumors Friday. Dix said they received a call that paperwork had been found in the dumpster behind the building.
Dix said he advised the supervisor on scene to clear people from the area, block it off with crime scene tape and notify the on-call investigator and crime scene investigator to respond to the scene.
“When they arrived, on my orders, they photographed and documented the dumpster, its contents, and the area around it. They then bagged the entire contents of the dumpster, loaded it into a truck, and transported the contents to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office where it was secured under lock and key. We allowed anyone on scene that wanted to follow the truck transporting the materials to the Sheriff’s Office to do so, and some did,” Dix said.
He says he then had deputies go to all 18 polling places in the county and check dumpsters and trash for any election-related documents, but none were found.
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Friday morning, Dix says, an investigator from the Secretary of State’s Office came to the sheriff’s office and went through each bag, documenting and photographing what was found. Dix says he oversaw the whole process.
The contents of the bags will be secured at the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office until further orders from the Secretary of State’s office, according to Dix.
"To clear up a few of the rumors:
- No one was allowed into the Election’s Office last night. Those having that issue have been directed to contact the Secretary of State’s Office with their complaints.
- On my orders, people were asked to step away from the dumpster and its contents, and they complied immediately. “Crime Scene” tape was put up in order to keep anyone away from the dumpster until its contents could be photographed and contents secured by my investigators. Deputies stayed with the dumpster until this was accomplished.
- There were no ballots found in the dumpster by anyone last night.
- There were no ballots found in any of the contents of the dumpster that were searched this morning by the Secretary of State’s Office and my investigators
- What was found were empty envelopes that were used to mail ballots to the election’s office. Those envelopes are marked “Ballot”. Each had been opened and they were all empty.
- There were documents, not ballots, found in the contents of the dumpster that for security reasons, were improperly disposed of.
- There was at no time an “angry mob” as has been described on social media.
- There were no arrests.
- The investigation has been turned over to the Secretary of State’s Office."
“These are facts, not rumors allegations, misinformation, or gossip.” Dix said.