Fact Check: Thousands of Seattle Democrats Did NOT Unsafely Gather To Demand Protection From COVID-19 Risks of In-Person Voting

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: Thousands of Seattle Democrats Did NOT Unsafely Gather To Demand Protection From COVID-19 Risks of In-Person Voting Photoswap Fib

Does a photo posted on social media show thousands of Seattle Democrats crowded onto downtown streets to demand mail-in voting as a safe alternative to in-person voting during a pandemic?No, that's not true: The photo was taken at Black Lives Matter demonstration on June 6, 2020, not a protest against in-person voting. Besides, Washingtonians don't need to demand mail-in voting. They already have it. Washington State has voted by mail since 2011.

The deceptive photoswap appeared in aTweet (archived here) under the title "AND THAT'S THE WAY IT IS". It opened:

...Thousands of Seattle Democrats gather to demand mail-in voting because it's too dangerous to vote in-person. LOL

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Aug 18 22:51:09 2020 UTC)

Lead Stories found the photo with a Google Image search in an entry on the West Seattle Blog, which published several pictures of the Black Lives Matter demonstration on June 6, 2020. The photo used in a false post appeared as the second image in an entry titled PHOTOS/VIDEO: West Seattle Junction fills with sea of protesters affirming 'Black Lives Matter!'

The implication that it was a non-socially distanced crowd protesting about the dangers of having to vote in person during a pandemic. It was not.

Along with Washington, there are four other states which vote primarily by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Utah. Voters may, if they prefer, still vote in person in all five states, according to Ballotpedia, but all are able to mail in their completed ballot.

According to the website of the Washington Secretary of State, many counties switched to vote-by-mail as early as 2005, when the Legislature made it an option after 17 years' experience with special elections and small precincts.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Dean Miller

Lead Stories staff writer Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a one-year Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy for six years. As Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting, a dual licensee, he oversaw radio, TV and print journalists, and documentary producers. He moved west to teach journalism at Western Washington University, edit The Port Townsend Leader and write the twice-weekly Save The Free Press column for the Seattle Times. Miller won the 2007 national Mirror Award for news industry coverage and he led the team that won the 2005 Scripps Howard first amendment prize. 

Read more about or contact Dean Miller

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