Fact Check: TV News Graphic Does NOT Show Pennsylvania Mail-in Voter Fraud

Fact Check

  • by: Olivera Perkins
Fact Check: TV News Graphic Does NOT Show Pennsylvania Mail-in Voter Fraud Wrong Number

Does a TV news graphic show voter fraud in Pennsylvania with more mail-in votes counted than were sent to voters or received by the elections office? No, that's not true: The on-air graphic used a number that mistakeningly combined the total number of mail-in ballots and in-person ballots in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A producer for Harrisburg's CBS 21 told Lead Stories the error happened when its automated system copied the wrong numbers from the county elections website.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) published on Facebook on November 4, 2020, under the title "Just in case your wondering how biden is gonna win". The news graphic read:

LANCASTER

MAIL IN BALLOT REQUESTS

108,539

MAIL IN BALLOTS RETURNED

89,681

MAIL IN BALLOTS COUNTED

142,584

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

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Nov 5 00:30:34 2020 UTC)

People questioned why there were more nearly 53,000 more mail-in ballots counted than had been returned and 34,000 more than sent to voters in Lancaster County. CBS 21 Digital Content Producer Jishnu Nair told Lead Stories it was a mistake made by the automated graphics system scrapping the official numbers:

There was a reporting error in the county where they pulled together both mail-in and in-person ballot numbers and for a while that screen showed the wrong number.

This is a screen shot of the actual news report.

image (23).png

This fact check is available at IFCN's 2020 US Elections #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.


  Olivera Perkins

Olivera Perkins is a veteran journalist and fact checker at Lead Stories, who has covered a variety of beats, including labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Read more about or contact Olivera Perkins

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