Social media posts claim that a video clip is evidence of “#ElectionFraud.” The clip, which accidentally aired on TV, actually shows a standard TV newsroom rehearsal ahead of the Illinois primaries.
Usually practice makes perfect. But that wasn’t the case for one central Illinois news station this week.
On March 16, WCIA-TV in Champaign, Illinois, was preparing to cover the primary election scheduled for the next day, doing a run-through with mock-up graphics. But a short clip of that rehearsal accidentally aired for about a minute during “The Price Is Right” the morning ahead of the election.
One Facebook post claimed: “In other news, the Illinois primary is tomorrow and they decided to post election results a FULL DAY EARLY. How is that possible? #ElectionFraud #VoterSuppression.”
And a tweet from an account with #NeverBiden in its bio claimed: “Illinois station broadcasts the pre-rigged election results day before the election (Biden 50% Bernie 45%) #ElectionFraud.”
But the video proves no such thing.
“This was an error, and in no way reflects the results of Tuesday night’s Illinois Primary Election,” the station said in its story. It also explained that, “[t]he vote totals are only test numbers and were zeroed out following the rehearsal.”
It’s standard practice for broadcast news to do run-throughs such as this in advance of elections, Betsy West, a professor at Columbia Journalism School and an Emmy-winning news producer, told us in an interview. She noted that the stations need to practice using the technology and graphics equipment “before they go live.”
But, of course, the rehearsal doesn’t usually end up on the air. The fact that it did in this case doesn’t prove the claims of “#ElectionFraud” that are circulating online, though.
WCIA.com. “Election rehearsal airs in error.” 16 Mar 2020.
West, Betsy. Professor, Columbia Journalism School. Telephone interview. 17 Mar 2020.