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Felecia Rotellini, a member of Arizona's Electoral College, signs the Arizona Presidential Elector Ballot certificate Dec. 14, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP) Felecia Rotellini, a member of Arizona's Electoral College, signs the Arizona Presidential Elector Ballot certificate Dec. 14, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP)

Felecia Rotellini, a member of Arizona's Electoral College, signs the Arizona Presidential Elector Ballot certificate Dec. 14, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman December 23, 2020

Bogus analysis leads to ridiculous claim about Biden votes

If Your Time is short

  • Biden received about 81 million votes while Trump received 74 million. That translated to Biden’s Electoral College win of 306 to 232, which electors made official Dec. 14.

  • Federal security officials have said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump and his allies have continued to flood social media with falsehoods about the Nov. 3 election, including that the number of votes cast exceeded the number of eligible voters by a massive amount.

"REVEALED: ‘Simple math’ shows Biden claims 13 million more votes than there were eligible voters who voted in 2020 election," stated a headline on The Gateway Pundit.

Trump retweeted the Gateway Pundit story. That story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The "simple math" about Biden’s voters is wrong. 

Gateway Pundit relies on bogus calculation to lead to false claim

The Gateway Pundit cites a tweet by Bill Binney, who worked at the National Security Agency from 1965 to 2001. Binney cited a Washington Post story about historic voter turnout in the November election. 

The Washington Post story said 66.2% of the voting-eligible population cast a vote. (The United States Elections Project calculates the eligible population by adjusting the voting-age population for non-citizens and ineligible felons, depending on state law.)

While the Washington Post clearly cited the voting-eligible population, Binney and The Gateway Pundit instead looked up figures for the number of registered voters — even though not every American who is eligible to vote takes the steps to register. 

Binney wrote that if there are 212 million registered voters and 66.2% voted, that means about 140 million voted. If Trump received 74 million votes, that leaves about 66 million for Biden, Binney wrote.

Binney’s implication is that there is no way Biden actually received about 81 million votes.

"These numbers don’t add up to what we are being told. Lies and more Lies!" Binney tweeted.

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Binney didn't explain why, under this theoretically flawed analysis, it couldn’t have been Trump who had erroneously received millions of votes.

The Gateway Pundit added up the number of registered voters and applied the same math formula and reported numbers in the same ballpark as Binney. The writer concluded that if Trump won 74 million votes, that left 67.5 million remaining for Biden. That means "13 million duplicate or made up ballots were created and counted for Biden!"

But just as Binney did, the Gateway Pundit is plugging in the wrong number — the number of registered voters — while the Washington Post cited the number of adults eligible to vote.

The United States Elections Project found there were about 239.2 million eligible voters for the Nov. 3 election. Using that denominator and an approximately 66% turnout rate, it shows that about 158 million people voted for president

The Gateway Pundit also declared that "Biden committed fraud" and stole the election by "millions" of votes, a ridiculous assertion that included no evidence to back it up. Claims of widespread fraud have been debunked by federal security officials, as well as state election officials, including in GOP-led states such as Georgia. Nationwide, judges tossed out dozens of lawsuits by Trump and his allies that attempted to overturn the election, for lack of evidence. 

There is one more problem with the faulty claims by Binney and the Gateway Pundit — they rely on outdated data on registered voters. They cited World Population Review’s state-by-state tally of registered voters, but that website shows the number of voters in some states months before the Nov. 3 election. For example, for Florida it shows 14,065,627 voters as of Aug. 31. But the relevant number is how many voters were registered as of the registration deadline, Oct. 6, which was 14,441,869.

Our ruling

A headline on The Gateway Pundit said, "REVEALED: ‘Simple math’ shows Biden claims 13 million more votes than there were eligible voters who voted in 2020 election."

This isn’t a case of simple math; it's a case of flawed analysis. The Gateway Pundit conflated registered voters with eligible voters. The two are not the same.

There is no evidence that Biden claimed 13 million more votes than was mathematically possible. 

This statement rates Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Gateway Pundit, "REVEALED: ‘Simple math’ shows Biden claims 13 million more votes than there were eligible voters who voted in 2020 election," Dec. 20, 2020

United States Election Project turnout rates and Why not calculate turnout rates as percentage of registered voters? Accessed Dec. 22, 2020

Washington Post, Another good example of how laughably flimsy Trump’s electoral fraud claims are, Dec. 21, 2020

Factcheck.org, Flawed Calculation Behind False Claim of Fraudulent Votes, Dec. 21, 2020

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Statement, Nov. 12, 2020

Georgia Public Radio, Georgia Recertifies Biden Victory As Officials Reject Disinformation, Dec. 7, 2020

Trump twitter archive, Retweet by President Donald Trump, Dec. 20, 2020

PolitiFact, Trump's Pants on Fire claim about votes exceeding voters in swing states, Nov. 23, 2020

PolitiFact, Donald Trump has lost dozens of election lawsuits. Here’s why, Dec. 10, 2020

Email interview, Michael McDonald, University of Florida political science professor, Dec. 22, 2020

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Bogus analysis leads to ridiculous claim about Biden votes

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