May 13, 2021

The U.S. Census Bureau has been sucked into the swirl of misinformation surrounding the 2020 presidential election.

“US Census Bureau confirms HUGE CONFLICT in total number of voters in 2020 election,” reads a claim that in recent days has appeared in Facebook posts and blog posts.

They were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

On Twitter, a U.S. Senate candidate from New York asked, “Why did the US Census Bureau just confirm nearly 4 million more people voted in 2020 than were reported in the 2020 census data?”

Some of the posts cited a website called The Election Wizard, which on May 4 published a post titled, “Census reveals weird anomaly: Shows millions less voted in 2020 election than official tally.”

The site said that the Census tallied 154,628,000 people voting in 2020. The post then went on to say that “official results place the number of actual ballots cast slightly north of 158 million. That’s a discrepancy of nearly four million votes.”

The blog got it wrong. Census Bureau data does not show a discrepancy in the election results.

Here’s why:

The data cited on the Election Wizard website comes from numbers released by the Census Bureau in April 2021 about reported voting and registration for the November 2020 election.

According to that data, 154,628,000 people 18 and older reported that they voted in the election. Another 40,561,000 reported that they didn’t vote. But more than 36 million — roughly 36,404,000 — didn’t indicate whether they voted or not. That group included people who were either not asked if they voted, those who responded “Don’t Know” and those who refused to answer, according to the Census Bureau.

So while the posts spreading online are highlighting a difference of about 4 million between the people who reported they voted and the more than 158,400,000 ballots cast for president in November, these numbers cited don’t tell the whole story, because we don’t know the actions of more than 36 million people who didn’t tell the Census whether they voted or not.

To say that the Census Bureau has confirmed a huge discrepancy in the total number of voters in the 2020 election and ballots cast is just wrong.

We rate this claim False.

This article was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for these fact checks here and more of their fact checks here.

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Ciara O'Rourke is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, Ciara covered local government and public safety for the Austin American-Statesman and fact-checked elected officials and…
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