November 4, 2020

Fact-checking organizations based in the United States debunked at least 10 claims and photos regarding the electoral process in two states on Election Day. An overview of this work shows that Florida and Pennsylvania were heavily targeted by disinformers on Nov. 3. But the consequences of these acts are yet to be determined.

A false photo caption claimed the photo showed an unidentified civilian removing an official ballot box from a polling location in Philadelphia on Election Day. The person in the photo is an election worker who was transporting the ballots as part of their official duties, Jane Roh, a spokesperson for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, told PolitiFact in a text. Fact-checkers also emphasize that election workers don’t wear uniforms.

A similar case popped up in Erie County, Pennsylvania. where a man allegedly threw out more than 100 ballots cast for President Donald Trump. According to PolitiFact, this came from an Instagram story from a person unaffiliated with the county. It has since been debunked.

A Republican activist posted a tweet apparently showing a sample ballot outside Bucks County poll center in Pennsylvania with the names of the Republican candidates blurred out. The activist claimed the sign was too close, which violates electioneering laws, and called it a “voting scam.” This was not a scam, according to PolitiFact. There’s no evidence this sign was too close, and journalists on the ground said they saw the same sign at another polling location that was appropriately far enough away.

A comparable claim was made by a conservative columnist who tweeted images of a sign with the names of Democratic candidates outside a Philadelphia high school being used as a polling location. According to AFP, the office of District Attorney Lawrence Krasner tweeted that the claim is “deliberately deceptive.” After investigating, members of the Election Task Force found out that the sign was further than 10 feet from the poll center as established in the law.

A viral Facebook post misleadingly suggested that voters in the Pennsylvania counties of York, Lebanon and Dauphin were prevented from voting by the state Department of Health due to potential COVID-19 exposure. The post further claimed officials threatened to arrest voters trying to exercise their franchise. FactCheck.org pointed out that the post, which was spread by a popular conservative radio host, was misleading for several reasons.

“A poll watcher in Philly was just wrongfully prevented from entering the polling place,” Will Chamberlain, editor-in-chief of the conservative magazine Human Events, tweeted Nov. 3. Chamberlain’s tweet was retweeted by Mike Roman, director of Election Day operations for President Donald Trump’s campaign. But Kevin Feeley, spokesman for the city commissioners, told FactCheck.org in a phone interview that “it was a mistake.”

Three times in a row The Washington Post Fact Checker debunked claims made by Trump on Twitter that he was leading solidly in states as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. They also debunked the claim that Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania had magically disappeared because of corrupt officials in the commonwealth.

When it comes to Florida, a post on Facebook claimed that 23% of mail-in ballots in Miami-Dade County, Florida, were rejected for missing signatures. But that’s false, according to CheckYourFact.org. Less than one percent of mail-in ballots have been preliminarily rejected for not having a signature in Miami-Dade County as of Nov. 2, according to a spokesperson for the county’s elections department.

On the afternoon of Election Day, several social media posts warned that groups of protesters were planning riots and violence in Miami-Dade County. But according to a statement from the Southeast Florida Fusion Center of the Department of Homeland Security and Miami-Dade Police Department, there was no evidence of such a thing. Univision warned its audience about the viral falsehoods being distributed by text.

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