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Allison Graves
By Allison Graves November 22, 2016

No, 15,000 people did not vote for Harambe in 2016

We all know Harambe as the late gorilla who became an Internet sensation, but is it possible one of America’s favorite memes also received 15,000 votes in this year’s presidential election?

Shortly following Donald Trump’s win, stories about Harambe winning thousands of votes appeared on social media, fueling funny remarks that the gorrilla spoiled the election.

For those of you who don’t know — Harambe, a silverback gorilla, was controversially killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in May after a young boy climbed into his enclosure. Harambe’s death sparked thousands of social media posts or memes memorializing his death.

"The Legend Of Harambe Continues As The Dead Gorilla Received Over 15,000 Votes For President," reads a Nov. 9 headline from Coed, an online entertainment magazine.

A post from 9GAG got over 79,000 reactions on Facebook.

And of course there were the social media posts:

While it’s possible a handful of people voted for Harambe (see here), the stories that Harambe received thousands of votes — which ranges between 11,000 and 15,000 depending on the story — are not based on fact.

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Write-in votes for Harambe would be treated like provisional or absentee ballots, meaning they wouldn’t be counted until after all the other votes, which takes weeks. We’re still counting votes in California, for instance.

Seeing as these Harambe stories popped up immediately after the election, there’s no way they were based on real data.

Plus, every state decides on their own requirements for write-in candidates, so not all votes for Harambe would count depending on the state.

More than 30 states require a write-in candidate to file paperwork in order to be an official candidate and at least eight states don’t even allow write-in candidates. The remaining states have no-filing requirements.

How many of these write-in votes actually get counted? Well, in 2012, 136,040 write-in votes were counted, which is .11-percent of the total votes, according to The Washington Post.

Our ruling

The day after the presidential election, bloggers took to social media to share stories claiming Harambe received thousands of votes in this year’s presidential election.

The claims are a hoax.

Most of those stories were written the day after the election, and any write-in votes for Harambe wouldn’t have been counted. Moreover, more than half of states require write-in candidates file paperwork in advance of the election, while another nine don’t even permit write-in candidates.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

The Washington Post, "Planning to write in Paul Ryan or Bernie Sanders? It won’t count in most states." Nov. 3, 2016

TheStar, "California’s uncounted ballots outnumber total votes of 34 states," Nov. 21.

Coed, "The Legend Of Harambe Continues As The Dead Gorilla Received Over 15,000 Votes For President," Nov. 9

DailySnark,"Harambe, A Dead Gorilla, Got Over 15,000 Votes For President Of The Unites States," Nov. 9

Vox, "The Harambe meme is still going strong. And it's about a lot more than a dead gorilla." Sept. 13

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No, 15,000 people did not vote for Harambe in 2016

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