Joe Biden is president-elect of the United States. But in Facebook groups, conservative media and the Trump White House, the battle for the presidency is far from over.
Since Election Day, PolitiFact has fact-checked more than 80 misleading or false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election. Federal agencies, state election officials and technology experts have all said this year’s election was among the most secure in American history.
Still, weeks after Election Day, Trump, his family and his supporters have amplified unfounded allegations of fraud and falsely claimed Trump won a second term in office.
Below are 80 of our fact-checks attacking the integrity of the election, organized by the 10 top misinformation trends we’ve seen since Nov. 3. Have a post or claim that you want us to fact-check? Send it to email@example.com.
Out-of-context photos and videos don’t prove ballot tampering
Since Election Day, a cascade of images and photos published on social media have claimed to show poll workers and others committing voter fraud. In fact, the posts mostly show election officials doing their jobs.
- A Georgia election worker was falsely accused of discarding ballots in a viral video of him working. He had to go into hiding.
- Pennsylvania poll workers weren’t caught fraudulently filling out ballots. The poll workers were copying information from damaged ballots onto blank ballots so they could be counted.
- It wasn’t “cheating” when California election workers collected ballots after the state called for Biden. A county official said the boxes were locked at 8 p.m. on election night.
- There’s no evidence ballots were smuggled into a Detroit counting hub. The video actually shows a local TV news photographer rolling in his equipment.
- A video of “ballot stuffing” is not from a Flint, Mich., polling place. It’s from Russia.
- Eric Trump retweeted a video falsely claiming that a man burned 80 Trump ballots. An investigation in Virginia Beach showed they were sample ballots.
- Donald Trump Jr. shared a video of an apparent election worker destroying Trump ballots. It was created as a prank.
Election workers were falsely accused of misconduct
Social media has been awash in claims that election officials rigged the election in favor of Biden. Those claims are misleading or outright inaccurate.
One viral claim said election workers in Maricopa County, Ariz., forced voters to use Sharpies, which aren’t read by voting machines. In fact, Sharpies are preferred for filling out ballots.
Here’s a look at other claims:
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer didn’t say she wouldn’t certify election results in Michigan if Trump wins.
- Trump is wrong to say that election observers were barred in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
- More than 100 Republican challengers monitored the absentee ballot count in Detroit, despite claims that they were unfairly kept out.
- Ted Cruz falsely claimed Philadelphia was counting votes in a “shroud of darkness.”
- A sign outside a Pennsylvania poll isn’t a voting scam.
- North Carolina’s Secretary of State doesn’t control elections.
- North Carolina GOP Rep. Dan Bishop falsely accused election workers of misconduct.
- Donald Trump’s jab at Georgia’s recount ignores key voting principles.
Rumors of trashed votes for Trump didn’t pan out
A popular narrative on social media claims that ballots cast for Trump have somehow ended up in garbage cans across the country. Although some of these claims are accompanied by photos and videos, they don’t stand up to scrutiny.
- Arizona troopers didn’t discover 50,000 ballots for Trump in a dumpster.
- Ballots for Trump weren’t discovered in a Georgia dumpster.
- Thousands of military ballots were not found in the trash in Wisconsin.
- Ballots for Trump weren’t thrown out by a poll worker from Pennsylvania’s Erie County.
- A video claimed to show trashed ballots for Trump in Tulsa County, Okla., but the ballots were spoiled and legally destroyed and discarded.
Vote-counting was plagued by false claims
Misinformation about vote counts spread widely. Some Trump supporters took minor errors in the vote tabulation process or an influx of legally cast mail-in ballots as evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Get insights into Florida politics
Subscribe to our free Buzz newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
- There was nothing shady about a “lost” Milwaukee elections flash drive.
- Rock County, Wis., did not have a glitch that stole votes from Trump.
- Fairfax officials in Virginia didn’t give 100,000 Trump votes to Biden.
- Michigan ballots counted after Election Day aren’t fraudulent.
- Wisconsin did not take a break from counting election results.
- “Ballot dumps” in key states were not a magical surprise, as Trump tweeted.
- There is no evidence that battleground states deliberately stalled vote tabulation to favor Joe Biden.
- Nevada did not stop counting ballots.
- Screenshots of FiveThirtyEight graphs don’t prove voter fraud.
- A social media post falsely claimed that Wisconsin “found” 112,000 votes at 3 a.m.
- Biden did not receive thousands of mysteriously surfaced votes in Michigan.
- Battleground states did not “stop counting” votes on election night when Trump was ahead.
- Judicial Watch didn’t publish a bogus story about the National Guard recounting votes.
- A Michigan judge has not called for a hand recount.
- Social media posts falsely claimed 40,000 votes for Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen became votes for Biden in Pennsylvania.
- Georgia officials found more than 2,600 uncounted ballots, but they’re not evidence of fraud.
- Biden’s leads haven’t disappeared in key battlegrounds.
Mail-in ballots and early voting misrepresented
An influx of mail-in ballots and early in-person voting, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, provided fertile ground for partisans to cast doubt on legally cast votes. That influx tended to favor Biden, as Democrats were more likely to vote by mail than Republicans.
- There’s no evidence that early voting exposes elections to “chicanery” and fraud, as Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West said.
- A claim that the U.S. Postal Service failed to deliver 27 percent of mail-in ballots in South Florida is 100 percent wrong.
- In Lancaster County, Pa., more mail-in ballots weren’t counted than were cast.
- A viral tweet spread false information about rejected mail ballots in DeKalb County, Ga.
- There’s nothing “mysterious” about California’s mail-in voting system, despite a False Facebook claim.
Trump did not win the election, despite social media claims
Perhaps the most persistent falsehood about the election is one that the president himself has repeatedly promoted: Trump won the election instead of Biden. Other false claims have said the news media have a history of making inaccurate predictions about presidential winners.
- Trump falsely and prematurely claimed victory in the presidential race.
- Trump does not have more electoral votes than Biden.
- The media didn’t call the 2016 election for Clinton.
- The Washington Times didn’t run the “President Gore” headline that Trump spokesman shared.
- Michigan’s government website doesn’t say Donald Trump won the election there.
- The New York Post didn’t run a “You’re Fired” cover.
- Donald Trump’s Pants on Fire claim that “if you count the legal votes, I easily win.”
- Biden netted more votes in Michigan than Trump.
- Trump wrongly claims “big victory” after a close down-ballot Nevada race moves toward a revote.
- Real Clear Politics never called Pennsylvania for Biden and then called it back.
Voting machines were not rigged for Biden
Since the presidential race was called for Biden, disinformation has targeted some of the companies that built voting machines Americans used to cast their ballots. Two companies in particular, Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, have been falsely accused of rigging the election against Trump.
- The U.S. military did not raid an election software company tied to Dominion Voting Systems.
- There’s no evidence that Dominion Voting Systems caused widespread tabulation errors that flipped votes for Biden.
- Trump’s tweet that Dominion Voting Systems deleted about 2.7 million votes nationwide is baseless.
- Trump supporters falsely tied Nancy Pelosi to a broader election misfire scheme involving Dominion Voting Systems.
- A Facebook post exaggerated an isolated hiccup with a voting machine in Arkansas.
- An inaccurate early vote count in one Michigan county was a human error, not a failure of the software.
- We debunked the “Hammer and Scorecard” election fraud conspiracy theory. The U.S. government’s head of cybersecurity declared it to be “nonsense” (before Trump fired him).
- Did Trump issue secret watermarks on ballots? No, that’s another QAnon conspiracy theory.
- Trump’s lawyer falsely claimed that voting technology companies were created for changing election results.
There’s no evidence of widespread illegal voting
In battleground states that Trump needed to win to secure a second term, there has been an influx of claims about illegally cast ballots — including some that say dead people voted in the election. Those claims haven’t panned out.
- Pennsylvania: Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani falsely said there were more than 600,000 unlawful votes in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. We found no rationale or explanation for how so many votes could have been fraudulently cast.
- Nevada: GOP pundit Matt Schlapp made a baseless claim that 9,000 Nevada mail ballots are illegitimate. In a lawsuit, Republican lawyers advanced a similarly unsubstantiated claim about more than 3,000 illegal votes in Nevada, which we rated False.
- Georgia: Pollster Richard Baris claimed in a tweet that 132,000 ballots in Fulton County, Ga., were identified as likely ineligible, and Trump would win as a result. That’s False — state election officials have said they haven’t found credible examples of election fraud.
- No, 132,000 Georgia ballots weren’t “likely ineligible.”
- Iowa: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Iowans allowed “a little over 300 people to re-vote.” That’s Pants on Fire.
- Michigan: Social media misinformation targeted Detroit’s voter rolls, falsely accusing the city of keeping 2,500 dead voters on its registry (that’s outdated) and accusing the city of counting one mail-in vote from a man who died. The screenshots didn’t tell the whole story behind a confirmed clerical error; the vote actually came from the man’s living son, who shares his name.
Claims of more votes cast than registered voters are false
Social media users and partisans have said some battleground states have fewer registered voters than the number of votes cast in the presidential race. We crunched the numbers for Milwaukee wards, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The verdict for all: Pants on Fire!
The Biden campaign did not fabricate ballots
There is no evidence the Biden campaign, either by itself or in cahoots with criminal organizations, fabricated ballots to swing the election in its favor. Federal officials have said bad actors could not manipulate election results undetected even if they tried. The Trump campaign has not alleged a specific case of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and there is no evidence of any.
- Joe Biden did not hire the mob to fabricate ballots in Philadelphia.
- No, a Biden campaign official wasn’t arrested for election fraud in Texas.
Tampa Bay Times elections coverage
SIGN UP FOR TEXT MESSAGES WITH CONTEXT 2020: Ask questions and get post-election news updates from political editor Steve Contorno and the staff of the Tampa Bay Times.
ELECTION RESULTS — FLORIDA AND TAMPA BAY: See all races, statewide and in Hillsborough, Pinellas and other Tampa Bay counties.
We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the elections in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription. Or click here to make a donation to the Tampa Bay Times Journalism Fund.