Fact Check: Biden Adding 600,000 Votes Overnight In Pennsylvania During 2020 Election Count NOT Statistically Impossible

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Biden Adding 600,000 Votes Overnight In Pennsylvania During 2020 Election Count NOT Statistically Impossible Numbers Add Up

Is it statistically impossible that Joe Biden added 600,000 votes in Pennsylvania overnight during the 2020 election count? No, that's not true: The Pennsylvania Department of State told Lead Stories that "This claim is misinformation." Both 2020 presidential candidates, Biden and then-President Donald Trump, added hundreds of thousands of votes in the overnight hours following the closure of polls on November 3, 2020.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly Twitter, by Bernard B. Kerik on November 5, 2022. The post's caption said:

Never forget!

Between the hours of 1 AM and 5 AM, in PA, Joe Biden gained nearly 600,000 votes, which is statistically impossible.

They did it once, and they're going to try to do it again.

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


(Source: X screenshot taken on Thu Jun 6 15:59:25 2024 UTC)

Pennsylvania Department of State

In a June 7, 2024, email to Lead Stories, a Pennsylvania Department of State (DoS) spokesperson called the social media post's claim "misinformation." The DoS response continued:

Its reappearance on social media nearly four years after the 2020 General Election does not alter the fact that the implication behind the claim - that the 2020 election was 'rigged' or 'stolen' - remains false.

Both candidates appeared to gain votes during the early hours of the morning after Election Day in 2020 because many counties were still tabulating and reporting vote totals, particularly from absentee and mail-in ballots that couldn't be canvassed prior to Election Day. In practice, that means that counties continued to update both candidates' vote totals after Election Day was over, as legal ballots were counted.

Other evidence found by Lead Stories supports that notion.

Election live blog 2020

The political website FiveThirtyEight tracked Pennsylvania's election results with a live blog on election night 2020, starting on November 3.

In a post on November 4, 2020, at 8:29 a.m. EST, University of Pennsylvania political science professor Dan Hopkins provided a graph showing the election tally as votes were added overnight. The area in the black box below shows roughly 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., the same timeframe that's mentioned in the claim about Biden's 600,000 votes being statistically impossible:


(Source: FiveThirtyEight screenshot taken on Fri Jun 7 15:38:42 2024 UTC)

The chart shows both candidates -- not just Biden -- picking up hundreds of thousands of votes in the overnight hours. So, not only was it possible to pick up this quantity of votes in that timeframe, but Trump showed similar gains between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Hopkins, in a June 7, 2024, email to Lead Stories, said:

From extensive analyses, it is abundantly clear that the votes in Pennsylvania were accurately tallied in 2020, and repeated suggestions to the contrary have been debunked.

For additional information, Hopkins provided a link to a paper evaluating Trump's fraud claims from the 2020 election.

Final count

When all the votes were counted, audited and certified, Biden won Pennsylvania by a narrow margin of just over a percentage point. The official tally appears on the DoS website:


(Source: Pennsylvania Department of State screenshot taken on Fri Jun 7 16:51:13 2024 UTC)

The Pennsylvania DoS concluded its email response to Lead Stories by saying:

The November 2020 election was free, fair, and secure, with no widespread voter fraud. The fact is that voter fraud is exceedingly rare and there are procedures in place at the federal, state, and local levels to identify, investigate and prosecute voter fraud. The Department of State is aware of a few isolated cases of voter fraud from the 2020 election that resulted in convictions. Allegations of widespread fraud and illegal activity in the 2020 presidential election have been repeatedly dismissed in dozens of state and federal court cases across the country and debunked by independent fact checkers.

A top Homeland Security official in the Trump Administration called the 2020 election 'the most secure in American history' and said, 'There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.'

A comprehensive report on the 2020 election (archived here) can be found on the DoS website.

Read more

In 2020, Reuters reviewed similar claims about "vote dumps of hundreds of thousands" of pro-Biden ballots in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks related to the 2020 U.S. presidential election can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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