May 21, 2020

PolitiFact and MediaWise are teaming up to debunk misinformation about the coronavirus crisis. To have Coronavirus Facts delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here.

About half of voters in Lee County, Florida, decided to cast their votes by mail in the past two statewide elections. Elections supervisor Tommy Doyle expects that to climb to 70% in November due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doyle, a Republican in a conservative-leaning county that is home to Fort Myers, has encouraged voters to mail their ballots this year out of concern for their safety. He is sending information about voting by mail, with a postage-paid return envelope, to every address in the county. For voters who had already requested a ballot, he is sending a card to confirm that their address remains current. 

At the same time, Doyle is doing his best now to ensure that Election Day is safe for people who want or need to cast their ballots in person. 

“We are now getting quotes to install sneeze guards at all our offices that take in the public and extra face masks and everything we need for sanitation at polls,” he said.

With the 2020 presidential election less than six months away, state and local officials are scrambling to prepare for a potentially massive increase in voting by mail.

In 2016, about one-quarter of votes nationally were cast by mail through absentee voting. This year, some state governments have already changed laws and policies to expand it. 

Virginia and New Hampshire no longer require an excuse to cast an absentee vote (setting them apart from 15 states that still do). In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a ballot sent to every voter. A bill to ease mail balloting in Missouri is now on the governor’s desk. And New York, Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Carolina have made the vote-by-mail process easier for their respective primaries, though not yet for the general election.

The nitty-gritty of administering the 2020 vote, however, is left to local officials like Doyle who are making their best guesses about how to prepare.

Click here to read more.

Post falsely claims wearing a mask is harmful to your health

There’s no evidence that wearing standard masks, such as surgical masks or ones made of fabric, is harmful to the general public. Get the facts»

Did Dr. Anthony Fauci claim that every American should be microchipped?

There is no evidence that Dr. Anthony Fauci has said every American should be “microchipped.” Read the fact-check»

Facebook video claims to show kitchen worker blowing on food amid COVID-19 crisis

This video didn’t make its first appearance online in March. PolitiFact found it published four months ago, on these Russian sites in March and April 2017, and on in March 2017. Check it out»

Click here to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday.

Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Alex Mahadevan is senior multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project. He most recently worked as a data journalist at the personal finance startup The Penny…
More by Alex Mahadevan

More News

Back to News