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Viral Claim Inflates Number of New Voters in Three States

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Quick Take

A claim on social media misrepresents the number of people who have registered to vote in three states in 2024 and suggests the new voters are immigrants in the country illegally. There have been 194,000 newly registered voters in those states — not 2 million — and there’s no evidence they are immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Full Story

About 194,000 new voters have registered since the beginning of 2024 in three states — Pennsylvania, Arizona and Texas. That’s in line with the number of new registrations at this point in 2020.

It’s also far short of the 2 million new voters claimed in social media posts that have been circulating recently, one of which was amplified by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

On X, the social media platform that he owns, Musk reposted a claim from a far-right account that said: “The number of voters registering without a photo ID is SKYROCKETING in 3 key swing states: Arizona, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Since the start of 2024: TX: 1,250,710 PA: 580,513 AZ: 220,731.”

It’s true that Pennsylvania and Arizona, which went to former President Donald Trump in 2016 and to President Joe Biden in 2020, are swing states, but Texas isn’t generally considered to be in play for presidential elections. Trump won Texas in 2016 by 9 percentage points and 2020 by 6.5 points and is comfortably ahead in the polls for 2024.

The post cited data from the Help America Vote Verification system run by the Social Security Administration and suggested that the new voter registrations it counted were for “illegals.” The HAVV system is a tool used by states to verify the identity, but not the citizenship, of “new voters who do not present a valid driver’s license during the voter registration process.”

Musk wrote that the claim in the post was “Extremely concerning.” Musk recently advanced another inaccurate claim about immigration’s impact on elections, as we reported.

Another popular conservative account also spread the inflated voter registration claim, summarizing it this way: “Over 8 million illegal aliens have invaded America under Biden[.] Now we learn more than 2 million voter registrations have been completed *WITHOUT VOTER ID* in the past 3 months in 3 crucial states for 2024[.] Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Texas[.] Now you know why the border is open.”

But those aren’t the numbers of new voters who have been registered in those states.

We reached out to the secretaries of state in each of those three states and were told by all of their offices that the numbers in the social media posts were wrong.

In Pennsylvania, “As of April 3, there have been more than 76,000 new voter registrations in 2024,” a statement provided to us by spokesperson Amy Gulli said. “That is compared to nearly 102,000 new voter registrations in that same time frame in 2020.”

JP Martin, spokesperson for Arizona’s secretary of state, called the claims “spurious” and pointed us to Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s response to Musk, which said the number of new voters registered in the state so far this year is about 60,000.

And a statement from Jane Nelson, the Texas secretary of state, said, “It is totally inaccurate that 1.2 million voters have registered to vote in Texas without a photo ID this year. The truth is our voter rolls have increased by 57,711 voters since the beginning of 2024. This is less than the number of people registered in the same timeframe in 2022 (about 65,000) and in 2020 (about 104,000).”

The data that one post cited came from a system run by the Social Security Administration that checks the accuracy of new voters’ information using their Social Security numbers.

The Help America Vote Act, which became law in 2002, requires states to verify identity information for newly registered voters with their respective motor vehicle authority. For voters who don’t have a driver’s license, the law said that the motor vehicle authority must verify the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number with the Social Security Administration.

Two years after HAVA passed, the Social Security Administration developed the Help America Vote Verification system. That system allows state motor vehicle licensing departments to submit the last four digits of a voter’s Social Security number to the Social Security Administration for verification. Data on the number of requests from each state and the outcome — including whether the information was matched and whether the matches were for a person who is alive or dead — is public.

But it doesn’t show the number of new voters who have actually been registered.

Pennsylvania, for example, “uses the Help America Vote Verification to check partial social security numbers (SSN) not only for voter registration applications, but also for absentee and mail ballot applications,” the statement from the secretary of state’s office explained. “In many cases, the same voter’s partial SSN is being checked more than once in a single year.”

For the first three months in 2024, Pennsylvania had submitted about 568,500 inquiries to the Social Security Administration and about 543,000 of them were matches, according to data provided by the administration. But, as we said, there have been about 76,000 new voters registered in the state so far this year.

Since the HAVV system is designed only to verify identity, and not citizenship, Richer said Arizona — like some other states — uses a motor vehicle database “to confirm citizenship for the vast majority of registration applicants.” But he added, “We also have some other tools at our disposal, or we communicate directly with the voter to get documentation” of citizenship. Some of those other options for proving citizenship include a passport, naturalization documents, or an Indian Census number, Bureau of Indian Affairs card number, or Tribal Treaty card number, according to the Arizona secretary of state website.

In Texas, the secretary of state cast doubt on whether the total number of requests logged by the Social Security Administration was actually correct. Referring to the original claim on X, Nelson said in her statement, “The 1.2 million figure comes from the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website, which is supposed to report the number of times states have asked to verify an individual’s social security number. The SSA number is clearly incorrect, and we are working now to determine why there is such a large discrepancy.”

Neither the Texas secretary of state’s office nor the Social Security Administration responded to our request about whether or not they had determined if there was an error in the number of inquiries sent from Texas.

So, the actual number of new voters in the three states is about a tenth of what is claimed in the posts. And there’s no evidence to support the suggestion that the new registrants are immigrants in the country illegally.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.


270 To Win. Texas Presidential Election. Accessed 12 Apr 2024.

Pennsylvania Department of State. 2016 Presidential Election. Official Returns. 8 Nov 2016.

Pennsylvania Department of State. 2020 Presidential Election. Official Returns. 3 Nov 2020.

State of Arizona Official Canvass. 2016 General Election. 29 Nov 2016.

State of Arizona Official Canvass. 2020 General Election. 24 Nov 2020.

Social Security Administration. Help America Vote Verification (HAVV) Transactions by State. Accessed 5 Apr 2024.

Farley, Robert. “Elon Musk Overstates Partisan Impact of Illegal Immigration on House Apportionment.” FactCheck.org. 27 Mar 2024.

Robertson, Lori. “Breaking Down the Immigration Figures.” FactCheck.org. 27 Feb 2024.

Gulli, Amy. Spokeswoman, Pennsylvania Department of State. Email to FactCheck.org. 5 Apr 2024.

Martin, JP. Spokesman, Arizona Secretary of State. Email to FactCheck.org. 5 Apr 2024.

Richer, Stephen (@stephen_richer). “Hi Elon! The post you’re quote-tweeting seems to suggest that, based on Social Security Administration data, 220,731 illegal immigrants have registered to vote in Arizona since January 1, 2024. A few things if I may be so bold (since I have easy access to Maricopa County’s data — which makes up 62% of Arizona)…” X. 3 Apr 2024.

Nelson, Jane. Texas Secretary of State. Press release. “Statement on Voter Registration ID Requirements.” 3 Apr 2024.