Articles misrepresent California’s recall vote
The claim: 70% of voters who showed up at some polling stations in California were told they had already voted
In the wake of the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom, conservative figures have spread unfounded complaints electoral fraud and attempted to cast doubt on the results.
The recall request was filed in February 2020, and the organizers of the effort aimed to eliminate Newson, a Democrat, based on his stance on issues such as taxes and immigration. However, Newsom was declared winner September 14, shortly after the closing of the polling stations, with about 63% voting against the recall.
There have been no evidence of widespread fraud, and other major contenders in the race acknowledged Newsom’s victory. But online, some people are suggesting voter fraud, claiming that 70% of voters were told they had already voted when they went to vote.
The claim dates back to a September 13, Newsmax interview, in which a man by the name of Emon Afshar claimed that an election worker told him that 70% of voters faced this problem. In the days that followed, his request was widely shared on social media.
“We have seen a lot of frauds. Some polling stations reported that 70% of those entering had already voted! Read an Instagram post from September 15, which has since been deleted, which has accumulated more than 3,000 likes in one day.
Some social media users have shared a screenshot of a title which says, “California recalls Woodland Hills polling place: 70% of voters said they had already voted.” ”
But the claim is wrong. While two polling stations in California experienced a technical error, the number of people affected by the problem is far from the number cited by Afshar and social media posts. And no voter was prevented from voting because of it.
“The 70% benchmark is incorrect and unfounded – location specific or broadly defined,” said Jenna Dresner, spokesperson for the California Secretary of State’s office.
Checking the facts:Human error led to vote adjustment in California recall election
Afshar and the posters did not return a request for comment.
Technical problems in polling stations
In Los Angeles’ Woodland Hills neighborhood, voters at the El Camino Real Charter High School Vote Center and the Disabled American Veterans 73 Vote Center experienced a problem registering on September 11, causing some voters to say they had already participated in the election, but the vote never stopped.
The system error caused the false claims that some people were banned from voting, however, those who encountered the problem received a provisional ballot, which is used when people have a problem when voting in person.
“Provisional ballots were provided to all voters who encountered this problem at a polling center to ensure that no one was prevented from voting,” Dresner said by email. A “remediation deployment plan was quickly put in place to exchange all impacted equipment”.
In total, the two polling stations involved processed 103 provisional ballots, 56 in one and 47 in the other, while other voters chose to go to another location, according to Dresner. She said problems were identified with 91 out of 1,510 electronic polling devices deployed for the election. They were the result of an error in the loading sequence by their supplier.
Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office spokesperson Mike Sanchez also said the 70% figure was incorrect and the issue was “quickly resolved and the voting continued.”
“The provisional ballots have been verified and included in the count on election night,” Sanchez said via email.
Some voters told local media KTLA5 they were suspicious because many of those affected by the technical issue were self-identified Republicans, but the electoral issue could have affected any voter. Dresner said it was an “isolated incident”.
As of September 20, more than 11 million votes have been cast. The counties have 30 days after the election to complete the official canvassing, by the New York Times.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we are evaluating FALSE the claim that 70% of voters who showed up at certain polling stations in California were told they had already voted. While voters at two polling stations were informed that they had already participated in the election, the issue was quickly resolved and voters were given provisional ballots. A total of 103 provisional ballots were processed in total because of the issue, and the California Secretary of State’s office said the 70% figure was incorrect.
Our sources of fact-checking:
- Jenna Dresner, September 15, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Mike Sanchez, September 16, email exchange with USA TODAY
- CBS Los Angeles, September 13 Some In-Person Voting Problems Reported In Los Angeles, Ventura Counties
- UNITED STATES TODAY, November 7, 2020, What is a provisional ballot? The special ballots will help determine who is the next president?
- KTLA, September 11 San Fernando Valley residents tentatively voted due to equipment problem
- The New York Times, September 20 California recalls election results
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