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Georgia election workers reportedly file lawsuit against right-wing news site

A mother and daughter filed a lawsuit Thursday, NBC News reported, over conspiracy theories that accuse them of counting illegal ballots during the 2020 election.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Two Georgia election workers who were falsely accused of manipulating ballots in the 2020 election reportedly filed a defamation lawsuit against the Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that claimed they counted illegal ballots. 

The election workers filed the lawsuit against Jim and Joe Hoft, the twin brothers who publish Gateway Pundit, claiming that they conducted a "campaign of lies” that “instigated a deluge of intimidation, harassment, and threats that have forced them to change their phone numbers, delete their online accounts, and fear for their physical safety,” according to NBC News.

The Hofts did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

However, these two election workers join others in the 2020 presidential election that have been falsely accused of manipulating ballots. 

Other individuals who became the subject of similar conspiracy theories have also filed lawsuits against media companies that spread misleading or outright evidence-free claims about their roles in the election. 

The false accusations against the mother and daughter election workers began in Nov. 2020 when Gateway Pundit published an article identifying one of the workers in a surveillance video from State Farm Arena, where Fulton County ballots were being counted on election night.

RELATED: Fact-checking claims about Fulton County's election | These 'suitcases' are actually ballot containers

The article claimed that they “pulled out suitcases full of ballots and began counting those ballots without election monitors in the room,” according to The New York Times

Former President Donald Trump’s team pointed toward the surveillance video from State Farm Arena to use as evidence of election fraud one month later. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani claimed during hearings before the Georgia state legislature that video showed the workers were engaging in "surreptitious illegal activity," according to Reuters. The report added that on Jan. 2, Trump referred to one of them by name 18 times in a phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. 

The claims were debunked by Georgia election officers and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who said the "suitcase" was  actually a normal ballot container. Meanwhile, video reviews later showed the container had been packed and placed under a table when election workers were told counting was done for the night and would resume the next day. It was brought back out from under the table when officials pressed the county to resume counting.

The former president also focused on a water leak at State Farm Arena on Election Day, claiming it was used as an excuse to get observers and media out of the building. But the leak occurred early in the morning that day, and was reported - including by 11Alive's Joe Henke - well before people began leaving around 10 p.m.

The false accusations came with threats for the two Georgia election workers. They claim that people came to their home and attempted a "citizens’ arrest," according to NBC.

However, this wasn't the only time election workers were threatened in Georgia during the 2020 election cycle. On one occasion, a Fulton County election worker was also falsely accused of throwing a ballot away and went into hiding after receiving threats. 

Gabriel Sterling, the voting implementation manager with the Georgia Secretary of State's Office called upon Trump and the GOP to condemn the threats that election officials were receiving in December. 

"It's all gone too far," he said in an emotional early December news conference. "This has to stop!"

Meanwhile, the mother and daughter accused are seeking damages behind the false claims.