Facts are under assault in 2020.

We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact

More Info

I would like to contribute

Workers prepare mail-in ballots for counting on Nov. 4, 2020, at the convention center in Lancaster, Pa., following Tuesday's election. (AP) Workers prepare mail-in ballots for counting on Nov. 4, 2020, at the convention center in Lancaster, Pa., following Tuesday's election. (AP)

Workers prepare mail-in ballots for counting on Nov. 4, 2020, at the convention center in Lancaster, Pa., following Tuesday's election. (AP)

Daniel Funke
By Daniel Funke November 4, 2020

Fact-checking a conspiracy theory about ballot counting in battleground states

If Your Time is short

  • When this post was shared, there was no winner in the U.S. presidential election. A few key states that determine the path to the White House remain uncalled. 

  • Some states in which Donald Trump was leading on election night experienced delays in the ballot-counting process due to an influx of mail-in ballots. 

  • There is no evidence that states are deliberately stalling vote tabulation to favor Joe Biden.

A pro-Trump singer-songwriter is spreading misinformation about the ongoing vote count in several key battleground states.

In a widely shared Facebook post, Joy Villa claimed Democrats in six states were deliberately delaying ballot counts to hurt President Donald Trump’s re-election chances.

"Six states can't get the votes counted," says text in the image, which was posted after 3 a.m. EST on Nov. 4. "Six states in which @realDonaldTrump is leading. Six states where Dems are in charge."

"Unbelievable," Villa wrote in the caption. "The Democrats are trying to steal this election from @realdonaldtrump. He WON. PERIOD!"

Villa’s 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.) It’s a screenshot of a Nov. 4 tweet from Villa, which has been shared more than 11,000 times.

We reached out to Villa for evidence to back up her claim, but we haven’t heard back. It’s unclear which states Villa was referring to, but her post is similar to other claims that said officials halted vote tallies in battleground states like Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania to sway the results in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden. Those claims are inaccurate.

(Screenshot from Facebook)

First, Trump has not won the election, despite claims from the president himself and social media users. A few key states that determine the path to the White House remain uncalled. 

As of 5:45 p.m. EST on Nov. 4, the Associated Press had called a few battleground states in favor of Biden, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Arizona. Other swing states, including Iowa, Texas, Ohio and Florida, have been called for Trump.

Some states in which Trump was leading overnight on Nov. 3 experienced delays in the ballot-counting process due to an influx of mail-in ballots, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and preferred by Democratic voters. There is no evidence that states are deliberately stalling vote tabulation.

In three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which have Democratic governors — election officials were not allowed to start counting mail-in ballots until Election Day or just before. That resulted in reporting delays overnight on Nov. 3, since mail ballots take more time to count than in-person votes. 

Featured Fact-check

Here’s the status of those states (which were all toss-ups around in the early morning hours of Nov. 4) as of 5:45 p.m. EST:

The situation in the South and the West is a little different.

Georgia, which has a Republican governor, experienced a delay after a pipe burst at a ballot counting facility in Atlanta. The Georgia secretary of state told reporters that, as of 5 p.m. EST, there were about 185,000 uncounted ballots in the state.

North Carolina, which has a Democratic governor, is finished counting in-person votes, but it will count provisional and absentee ballots that arrive by Nov. 12 as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day. Democrat-led Nevada, where polls closed later than other battleground states, also remains uncalled as it continues to count mail ballots, but Biden has an edge over Trump.

RELATED: Battleground states did not ‘stop counting’ votes on election night when Trump was ahead

Those delays do not indicate that anything is wrong — rather, they highlight the difficulty of holding an election during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Election results reporting may occur more slowly than prior years," says the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency on a "rumor control" page. "This does not indicate there is any problem with the counting process or results. Official results are not certified until all validly cast ballots have been counted, including ballots that are counted after election night."

The Facebook post is wrong to say that battleground states "can’t get the vote counted" because Trump was ahead there. We rate it False.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

Our Sources

Associated Press, "2020 Latest: Biden wins Wisconsin, flipping state from 2016," Nov. 4, 2020

Business Insider, "Absentee ballot counting in Georgia's most populous county delayed 4 hours after a water pipe burst," Nov. 3, 2020

CNN, "Crush of mail-in ballots slows count in key states; some battlegrounds to resume counting Wednesday," Nov. 4, 2020

Facebook post from Joy Villa, Nov. 4, 2020

Georgia Secretary of State, COUNTIES REPORTING

The Hollywood Reporter, "Joy Villa Shocks in Pro-Trump "Impeached and Re-elected" Gown at the Grammys," Jan. 26, 2020

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Wisconsin election officials say Joe Biden has lead with all precincts reporting," Nov. 4, 2020

The New York Times, Michigan Presidential Election Results

The New York Times, Nevada Election Results

The New York Times, "Tracking Which News Outlets Have Called the Presidential Race in Each State," Nov. 3, 2020

North Carolina State Board of Election, 11/03/2020 UNOFFICIAL LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS - STATEWIDE

NPR, "Why Vote Counting In Pennsylvania And Michigan Takes So Long," Nov. 4, 2020

Pennsylvania Department of State, Supplemental Results Dashboard

PolitiFact, "Prepare for the weirdest election 'night' ever," Sept. 1, 2020

PolitiFact, "Battleground states did not ‘stop counting’ votes on election night when Trump was ahead," Nov. 4, 2020

PolitiFact, "No, Trump hasn’t won the election (and neither has Biden)," Nov. 4, 2020

PolitiFact, "Trump falsely and prematurely claims 2020 presidential victory," Nov. 4, 2020

Tweet from Joy Villa, Nov. 4, 2020

U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, #PROTECT2020 RUMOR VS. REALITY

WLNE-TV, "2020 Election Results: Eyes on Pennsylvania ballots in Trump, Biden presidential race," Nov. 4, 2020

WSB-TV, "LIVE UPDATES: About 185,000 uncounted ballots in GA, SOS says," Nov. 4, 2020

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Daniel Funke

Fact-checking a conspiracy theory about ballot counting in battleground states

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up