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The suggestion that ballots were randomly “found” is wrong.
Election officials in Wisconsin said they didn’t know what the post specifically meant by the 112,000 reference. The City of Milwaukee was still counting absentee ballots around 3 a.m., but that doesn’t mean that those ballots were “found” or appeared at that time.
As votes were being counted in Wisconsin, Facebook posts — and President Donald Trump — claimed that the state "found" votes and that it meant something nefarious was going on. That’s a distortion of the elections process.
Trump on Nov. 4 tweeted that "they are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan."
In another tweet, Trump said: "Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the "pollsters" got it completely & historically wrong!"
"Oh Wisconsin found 112k votes at 3am…," said a Nov. 4 Facebook post.
The Facebook 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.)
Are votes being "found" in Wisconsin?
"Absolutely no ballots were ‘found’," Reid Magney, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told PolitiFact. "All of the election results that were reported in the early morning hours of Wednesday were valid ballots that were received by 8 p.m. on Election Day according to the law."
Clerks are required to continue counting ballots until all ballots have been counted, Magney said.
Magney said he didn’t know exactly what the Facebook post was referring to by its mention of 112,000 votes. But he said that perhaps the post was alluding to counts of absentee ballots.
The most populous county in Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, has 19 municipalities. Eight of those municipalities, including the City of Milwaukee, process their absentee ballots at a central location within the municipality. The other 11 municipalities process absentee ballots at their respective polling locations.
Shortly after midnight Nov. 4, Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said his office had received an update from the City of Milwaukee, which said they had processed over 140,000 absentee ballots, and had about 30,000 left to process. "They are estimating, three to four hours," he said, "So, we're upping our estimates and hoping to be done by about 3 a.m., that’s better than 5 a.m."
As of mid-afternoon Nov. 4, Milwaukee County’s election results page said it was last updated at 3:56 a.m.
Julietta Henry, director of elections for Milwaukee County, said she also didn’t know where the 112,000 reference in the Facebook post was coming from, but she refuted claims of ballots being "found."
"We are not finding ballots, ballots are being counted," Henry said.
Wisconsin election officials on Nov. 2, before Election Day, posted information alerting the public that due to the coronavirus pandemic and a high number of absentee ballots, it would likely be Wednesday before all the unofficial results were in.
"It doesn’t mean something went wrong — it means election officials are doing their jobs and making sure every legitimate ballot gets counted," said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief election official.
A Facebook post claimed, "Wisconsin found 112k votes at 3am."
The suggestion that ballots randomly appear is wrong. Election officials in Wisconsin told us that they didn’t know what the post specifically meant by the 112,000 reference. The City of Milwaukee was still counting absentee ballots around 3 a.m., but that doesn’t mean that those ballots were found or appeared at that time.
We rate the Facebook post False.
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Facebook post, Nov. 4, 2020
Phone interview, Reid Magney, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Nov. 4, 2020
Phone interview, Julietta Henry, director of elections for Milwaukee County, Nov. 4, 2020
Wisconsin Elections Commission, What Wisconsin Voters Need to Know about How Votes Will Be Counted in the 2020 Election, Nov. 2, 2020
Twitter, @MegJonesJS tweet, Nov. 4, 2020
Yahoo! News, Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson says City of Milwaukee hopes to have all votes counted by, Nov. 4, 2020
Milwaukee County Election Results, page last updated Nov. 4, 2020 at 3:56 a.m.
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