Fact Check: Pennsylvania Did Not Tally More Mail-in Votes In The Presidential Election Than Actual Ballots Received

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Pennsylvania Did Not Tally More Mail-in Votes In The Presidential Election Than Actual Ballots Received Wrong Numbers

Did the mail-in vote count (2,589,242) in the presidential election in Pennsylvania exceed the actual number of ballots sent to voters (supposedly 1,823,148) and were 1,126,940 votes "created out of thin air"? No, that's not true: The Pennsylvania Department of State's website for election returns shows that about 2.6 million mail-in ballots had indeed been counted as of November 27,2020. More than 3 million voters had requested mail-in ballots as of the October 27, 2020 deadline, according to a news release the same day from Governor Tom Wolf's office. The 1,823,148 number appears to be the number of mail-in ballots requested for the June 2, 2020 primary election in Pennsylvania, not the November 3, 2020 election.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post (archived here) published November 26, 2020 showing a Rogan O'Handley tweet that read:

Today at the Pennsylvania election hearings, we learned that 1.8 million absentee ballots were mailed out for the 2020 election

Do you know how many were counted?

2.5 million

I'm no genius, but I'm pretty sure ***700,000** phantom votes is evidence of

Widespread FRAUD


(Source: Instagram screenshot Thursday, November 26 13:31 UTC 2020)

Similar claims were made in an Instagram post on November 26, 2020.


(Source: Instagram screenshot Thursday, November 26 13:31 UTC 2020)

The same false claim was later tweeted by Senator Doug Mastriano (archived here) and subsequently retweeted by President Trump:

President-elect Joe Biden received 1,995,691 mail-in votes, according to The Pennsylvania Department of State elections website on November 27, 2020. President Donald Trump received 595,538 in mail-in votes. Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen received 24,783, for a total of 2,616,012 mail-in votes. The website states that "These vote totals do not include any votes from mail ballots received between 8 p.m. on election day and 5 p.m. the following Friday."

The website's numbers show that the claims made in the above Instagram posts don't stack up because they fail to state the correct number of mail-in ballots requested: more than 3 million.

The number "1,823,148" probably originated when someone tried to look up the number of Pennsylvania mail-in ballot requests and landed on a page listing statistics for the June 2, 2020 primary election in that state, for example a page like this (archived here). It shows a dataset provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania described as:

This dataset describes a current state of mail ballot requests for the 2020 primary election. It's a snapshot in time of the current volume of ballot requests across the Commonwealth.

Specifically, it contains a table that lists the exact number of mail ballot requests for that election:


As you can see, this is not data about the November 3, 2020 Presidential election.


  • 2020-11-28T09:08:32Z 2020-11-28T09:08:32Z
    Added the likely source of the 1,823,148 number and added President Trump's tweet.

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