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Georgia poll workers targeted by Trump are cleared of false election fraud claims

The official state report comes years after law enforcement agencies interviewed Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss.
Image: Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss and Ruby Freeman
Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is comforted by her mother, Ruby Freeman, as she testifies at a House Jan. 6 committee hearing in Washington on June 21, 2022.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

Years after their lives were turned upside down by conspiracy theorists, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, were officially cleared by Georgia authorities on Tuesday.

Georgia’s State Election Board dismissed its yearslong investigation into alleged election fraud at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, more than two years after conspiracy theorists — and then-President Donald Trump — claimed that Freeman and her daughter had committed election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

The fraud claims were “unsubstantiated and found to have no merit,” the investigation concluded, reporting on the work of the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and investigators from the Secretary of State’s office vetting the alleged fraud.

During their efforts to overturn the results of the election, Trump and his ally Rudy Giuliani repeatedly claimed that Freeman and Moss had committed election fraud. A heavily edited, brief clip of security footage was widely circulated online and by Trump allies as supposed proof.

Giuliani said Freeman and Moss were passing USB drives “like vials of heroin or cocaine” during ballot-counting operations. Moss later explained her mother handed her a ginger mint during ballot counting.

Freeman in particular became a regular target for Trump, and the former president made false comments about her on social media as recently as January.

The Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

State officials said at the time that the election workers had done nothing wrong, but both women were relentlessly harassed. Freeman fled her home, fearing for her safety.

Last year, the U.S. House's Jan. 6 committee played taped testimony from Freeman and Moss during a congressional hearing.

“There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere,” Freeman said last June. “I have lost my name and I have lost my reputation. ... All because a group of people starting with number 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter."

Investigators interviewed or received affidavits from nine election workers. They also identified and interviewed an unnamed man who created an Instagram account purporting to be Freeman and claiming to have committed election fraud.

"The account creator admitted he created the fake account and confirmed the content that was posted on the account was fake," the report said. 

The bulk of the investigation appears to have been conducted in December 2020 and January 2021, but both the State Election Board and the Georgia Secretary of State's office was backed up reviewing claims, according to Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

This particular report, due to the partisan nature of the allegations, took a particularly long time because it "needed to be beyond reproach," he added.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger applauded the conclusion of the investigation in a statement on Wednesday: "False claims and knowingly false allegations made against these election workers have done tremendous harm. Election workers deserve our praise for being on the front lines."

Moss and Freeman have sued outlets and individuals who advanced false claims about them for defamation. One America Network settled one defamation lawsuit, while other claims are still ongoing.