The claim: Video of election workers filling out blank ballots in Delaware County is voter fraud
In the aftermath of Election Day, social media has been flooded with unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud and conspiracy theories that target battleground states.
Pennsylvania has become the epicenter of online misinformation.
A 54-second video clip purporting to show election staff filling out blank ballots in Delaware County and alleging fraud has gone viral on social media. “This lady is marking the ballots. I filmed her a half hour ago doing six and she’s still working at it,” a man narrating the video says, claiming that the “cops are in on it.”
“Voter Fraud this lady has been at it an hour. Pennsylvania camera number 7,” wrote one user who shared the video on Facebook.
A user on Twitter wrote, “This election official has been stamping and filling in blank ballots for an hour. To note, she selected all Democrat. Location: Delaware county Pennsylvania.”
Similar versions of the video, captured from an authentic livestream of election workers in Delaware County, were also shared.
The claim gained traction when Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, shared the video on his livestream after it was sent in by a viewer.
“A woman filling in ballots for an entire hour, filling in ballots!” Kirk said during the Charlie Kirk Show on Nov. 5. “Now the only excuse would be, is she filling them in more where they already had bubbles filled in?”
USA TODAY reached out to Kirk and the Facebook users for comment.
Video is manipulated, misleading
The viral video is genuine footage from a livestream of ballot counting. However, in some cases the video has been manipulated by zooming in to eliminate surrounding areas.
Adrienne Marofsky, public relations director for Delaware County, Pennsylvania, told USA TODAY that the video crops out bipartisan observers who were not more than 6 feet away.
“The cropped video portrays an election worker, seemingly alone at a table, marking a ballot. The actual video shows the election worker at a table with other coworkers in a room full of people with bipartisan observers a few feet away at each end of the table, closely observing the worker from approximately 6 feet away,” Marofsky said in an email.
She said the arrangement was agreed upon between the Election Bureau and the former Republican chairman of Delaware County Council.
Election workers are not committing fraud
What counters in the video are actually doing is fixing damaged ballots.
Marofsky said that during ballot processing, a machine extractor opens the ballots. Some ballots were damaged by the extractor and unable to be scanned successfully, she said.
“According to the scanner manufacturer, Hart, the best practice to deal with damaged ballots that cannot be scanned is to transcribe the votes on each ballot to a clean ballot and scan the clean ballot,” she said.
The chief clerk of the Delaware County Bureau of Elections then instructed elections staff to manually transcribe the damaged ballots.
The damaged ballots were directly next to the new ballots, and damaged ballots were preserved while bipartisan observers watched closely, according to Marofsky.
Pennsylvania’s Election Code states that, “If any ballots or district totals cards are damaged or defective so that they cannot properly be counted by the central automatic tabulating equipment, a true duplicate copy shall be made and substituted for any such damaged ballot or card.”
All ballots of this sort are labeled as “duplicate” and contain a serial number that is documented on the damaged or defective ballot.
Marofsky said the video “baselessly and wrongly attacks the integrity of election staff and the completely transparent process by which votes are being counted in Delaware County.”
Our rating: False
This video of elections staff filling out blank ballots is not evidence of voter fraud. County officials confirmed that workers were fixing damaged ballots and the video has been manipulated to crop out bipartisan observers who witnessed the process. The damaged ballots have been preserved, and Pennsylvania’s Election Code states damaged ballots must be duplicated. We rate this claim as FALSE as it is not supported by our research.
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