Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
• A freelance columnist in New York said several Queens, N.Y., residents were receiving pre-filled out ballots for Joe Biden.
• The New York City Board of Elections says one voter filled out the ballot but didn’t mail the ballot back to the elections office. The Associated Press reported that the person used the wrong envelope and mailed the ballot back to her previous address.
• The freelance columnist now says he’s not sure if his source was right.
A person who mailed their ballot to the wrong address in New York spawned an unproven allegation that residents in New York City received ballots already filled out for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has been circulating on social media.
"BREAKING NEWS: Several Queens Village (NY) residents are receiving pre-filled out ballots for Joe Biden and being told to just send them back to the Board of Elections. This is blatantly ILLEGAL," reads a recent tweet by Jake Novak, who currently has more than 25,000 followers and identifies himself as a freelance columnist in New York.
This post 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.)
Novak’s tweet was accompanied by a video in which he inspects a ballot, which has all Democratic candidates filled out, and claims that "it was definitely not done by hand," because "no human could be that perfect."
Turns out that ballot was filled out by a human, according to the New York City Board of Elections.
"There’s no truth to that," said Valerie Vazquez-Diaz, spokesperson for the Board of Elections. A spokesperson from the New York State Board of Elections also said the claim is false.
Novak said he received a tip that several Queens Village residents got pre-marked ballots. He arranged to meet with the man who received a ballot already filled out on the morning of Oct. 30. The man said the ballot had his daughter’s name on it, according to the recorded interview posted by Novak. The video Novak posted on Twitter included a voter ID number.
Here’s what Vazquez-Diaz said happened. New York City Board of Elections officials investigated the claim and talked to the voter in question. The voter had requested an absentee ballot, which was mailed to her in California. She filled out the ballot herself. It was intended to be mailed to the Board of Elections, but that ballot was accidentally opened by someone else.
Vazquez-Diaz said the board has sent the voter a new ballot. There’s no evidence of any other residents who received pre-marked ballots, she said.
Vazquez-Diaz didn’t respond to follow-up questions about whether the ballot had been sent to a family member and accidentally opened there. But the Associated Press reported that the voter used the wrong envelope, and sent the ballot to her previous address in Queens rather than the Board of Elections.
The New York City Board of Elections replied to Novak’s tweet on Oct. 30 to say it was "the height of irresponsibility to continue to make these false claims."
Novak told PolitiFact that he’s now unsure that his original source was right about the pre-marked ballots and is still trying to confirm the claim.
A tweet claimed that several Queens residents received ballots that were already marked with votes for Biden and other Democratic candidates.
No evidence supports this claim.
One voter Novak interviewed said he’d received a ballot with his daughter’s name on it that was already filled out. The New York City Board of Elections spokesperson told PolitiFact the voter in question had filled out the ballot and tried to mail it to the Board of Elections, but someone accidentally opened it.
The Associated Press reported that the voter had used the wrong envelope and mailed it to her previous address.
We rate this claim False.
This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.
Tweet, Oct. 29, 2020
Tweet, Oct. 30, 2020
Tweet, Oct. 30, 2020
Tweet, Oct. 30, 2020
Associated Press, "No evidence Queens residents received pre-marked ballots," accessed Nov. 1, 2020
Snopes, "Did some New York Residents Receive Pre-Marked Ballots?" accessed Nov. 1, 2020
Headliner, accessed Nov. 1, 2020
JakeNovakNews.com, accessed Nov. 1, 2020
Email, Jake Novak, Oct. 31, 2020
Interview, NYSBOE spokesperson Cheryl Couser, Oct. 31, 2020
Interview, NYCBOE spokesperson Valerie Vazquez-Diaz, Nov. 1, 2020
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.