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Viral Voting Misinformation


Numerous posts on social media have made false or misleading claims alleging voter suppression and voting fraud across the United States. Below is a roundup of some of the claims we have fact-checked. We will update this list as necessary.

  • An unfounded conspiracy theory of widespread election fraud claims that an election technology company called Smartmatic switched votes in the 2020 election. There is no only no evidence of that, but Smartmatic provided ballot-marking machines to only one U.S. county in the election.

See “Baseless Conspiracy Theory Targets Another Election Technology Company” for more.

  • A congressman and conservative news outlets are spreading the baseless claim that the U.S. Army seized an election software company’s server in Frankfurt, Germany, that could supposedly prove there was fraud in the 2020 election. There was no such seizure — and the company doesn’t even have a server in Frankfurt.

See “U.S. Army Didn’t Seize Election Servers in Germany” for more. 

  • A viral tale on social media falsely claims that a campaign official for President-elect Joe Biden was arrested in an illegal ballot-harvesting scheme in Texas. He has not been charged or arrested. The false claim stems from unverified allegations in an unsuccessful lawsuit brought by a group of Republicans.

See “Fabricated Claim of Biden Campaign Official’s Arrest” for more.

  • A baseless conspiracy theory claims that a secret supercomputer was used to switch votes from President Donald Trump to Biden. Experts — and the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — have said the theory is a hoax and that safeguards, including paper trails, would deter such an effort.

See “Bogus Theory Claims Supercomputer Switched Votes in Election” for more.

  • In a tweet, Trump on Nov. 12 pushed the baseless theory that voting systems deleted millions of votes for him and switched thousands of votes cast for him to his Democratic rival, Biden. No evidence has been produced to support that assertion.

See “Trump Tweets Conspiracy Theory About Deleted Votes” for more.

  • A postal worker in Erie, Pennsylvania, claimed that his superiors were backdating postmarks on ballots, then told federal investigators that he didn’t actually know that — and then went back to his original position. Despite the flimsiness of the claim, Trump and his supporters have used it in their effort to blame widespread election fraud for his electoral defeat.

See “Pennsylvania Postal Worker Waffles on Election Fraud Claim” for more.

  • Trump campaign officials and supporters have promoted the faulty claim that Biden received nearly 100,000 votes in Georgia through ballots that only included selections for president, suggesting it’s “suspicious.” But the claim ignores that some voters do not vote a straight-party ballot.

See “Faulty Claim About ‘Biden-Only’ Ballots in Georgia” for more.

  • A misleading claim that more than 21,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania are dead has circulated online. The figure comes from a conservative group that failed to convince a federal judge in October that its list was accurate.

See “Misleading Claim of Dead Registered Voters in Pennsylvania” for more.

  • A video from a right-wing activist suggests that U.S. Postal Service employees backdated ballots in Michigan. The claim is unproven, but, even if true, no ballots in the state are accepted after Nov. 3, regardless of the postmark.

See “Claim of Michigan Postal Fraud Is Moot” for more.

  • A video from a livestream of the vote-counting process in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, shows election workers transcribing votes from damaged ballots so they could be scanned and recorded, according to the county. Social media users are sharing the video with the false suggestion it shows workers committing voter fraud.

See “Viral Video Doesn’t Show Fraud by Election Workers in PA” for more.

  • Facebook users are sharing a meme that alleges a host of inaccuracies in Detroit’s voter rolls in the context of the 2020 election. But the claims stem from a 2019 lawsuit that was withdrawn after the group that filed it said the city had taken action on the issues.

See “Viral Image Shows Outdated Claims About Detroit Voter Rolls” for more. 

  • An inaccurate graphic on a local TV station briefly showed one Pennsylvania county with more mail-in votes than the number of ballots it had received. The graphic was quickly corrected, but Facebook users are now sharing screenshots of it to misleadingly suggest it is evidence of voter fraud.

See “Pennsylvania TV Newscast Graphic Wasn’t Evidence of Voter Fraud” for more.

  • A bogus QAnon-related claim that many of the mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election were illegitimate has spread widely on social media. But the claim is based on the faulty assumption that ballots are produced by the federal government.

See “Bogus QAnon Claim that Mail-In Ballots Are Illegitimate” for more.

  • Viral posts on Facebook falsely claim “we have the results of the senate & house, but not the President,” suggesting it is evidence of fraud. In fact, mail-in ballots for all federal races are still being counted in some states.

See “All Congressional Races Aren’t Decided Yet” for more. 

  • A video spread widely on social media falsely purports to show a man burning 80 ballots cast for Trump. The ballots shown in the video are sample ballots from Virginia Beach, Virginia — as evidenced by the absence of the bar code found on actual ballots — city officials said.

See “Viral Video Shows Burning of Sample Ballots, Not Trump Votes” for more.

  • A data input error that briefly showed an unusually large uptick in votes for Biden in Michigan prompted suspicions online and an unfounded claim of voter fraud. The error came down to a typo by a county’s reporting that was quickly corrected.

See “Clerical Error Prompts Unfounded Claims About Michigan Results” for more.

  • The falsehood that votes for Trump weren’t counted in Arizona because the ballots were filled out with Sharpie pens spread widely on the day after the election. But the county where the claim originated actually recommends that voters use fine tip Sharpies to fill out their ballots.

See “Sharpie Ballots Count in Arizona” for more.

  • Viral posts on Facebook falsely claim there were more votes cast in the 2020 election in Wisconsin than there were registered voters. According to state data, the number of registered voters exceeded the votes cast by more than 400,000, as of Nov. 1.

See “Viral Posts Misreport Data on Registered Voters in Wisconsin” for more.

  • A popular Democratic Facebook page falsely claimed Trump supporters were blocking access to a polling location in Clifton, New Jersey, on Election Day. Local police and county officials said the claim wasn’t true and that the photo cited was taken two days earlier.

See “False Claim of Voter Intimidation in New Jersey” for more.

  • A bogus Instagram post purports to be from an Erie County, Pennsylvania, poll worker who claimed he threw out over 100 pro-Trump ballots. But the chair of the Erie County Board of Elections said the person “does not work in any way with Erie County or have any part of Erie County’s election process.”

See “Bogus Posts Claim ‘Poll Worker’ Tossed Ballots in Pennsylvania” for more.

  • Facebook posts misleadingly suggest that Pennsylvania voters are being prevented from voting by the state Department of Health. But voters told to quarantine due to potential COVID-19 exposure are entitled to vote and can request and return an emergency absentee ballot though 8 p.m. on Election Day.

See “Pennsylvania Voters Told to Quarantine Can Still Cast a Ballot” for more.

  • A video suggests that there has been “voter fraud” in Utah, but all it actually shows is a misunderstanding of a poll worker’s mistake on the first day of early, in-person voting. The mistake was corrected and the system worked, as intended.

See “Video Doesn’t Show Voter Fraud in Utah” for more.

  • A false claim alleges that mail-in ballots already filled out with votes for Democrats, including Biden, were sent to voters in a New York City borough. A spokesperson for the New York City Board of Elections told us the ballot that triggered the allegation was the result of a voter’s error.

See “False Claim About ‘Pre-Filled Out Ballots’ in Queens” for more.

  • A story circulating on social media deceptively claims “Bad Things Are Happening in PA.” It overstates the significance of a video that shows a Republican poll watcher being denied access to a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day, and it falsely claims that there was an illegal political sign at another city location.

See “Overblown Claims of ‘Bad Things’ at Philly Polls” for more. 

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