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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke November 5, 2020

No, Michigan ballots counted after Election Day aren’t fraudulent

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  • Michigan bars election officials from counting absentee ballots until Election Day, and though a new law allowed them to process such ballots for 10 hours on Nov. 2, it wasn’t enough time to produce a final tally by midnight on Nov. 3

As of about 11 a.m. ET on Nov. 5, election results were not yet finalized in Michigan, though Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was leading by more than 150,000 votes, and several news organizations had called the state for him a day earlier

But an image of a Parler post that’s being shared on Facebook claims that he’s winning there only because of fraudulent votes.

"I KNOW my State of Michigan," the post says. "I am also an election official. I KNOW that any votes cast after 8 on election day are not valid. We had our machines tabulated and results in to our clerk by 10PM. Any votes counted after midnight are fraud. Please fight for Michigan! Trump crushed it in our State...until mysteriously 3:30 in the morning…"

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.) 

The post is wrong. There’s nothing fraudulent about ballots being counted after midnight in Michigan — as long as they’re received by 8 p.m. Election Day. In-person voters who are in line by 8 p.m. that day also have the right to vote.

In fact, we’ve known for weeks before Election Day that counting ballots and reporting results would take longer than in previous years. As the federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency recently noted, "this does not indicate that 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 on election night."

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More people across the country opted to use a mail-in ballot because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in Michigan, a 2018 state constitutional amendment allowed all voters to cast an absentee ballot for any reason. A record of more than 5.2 million Michigan voters cast a ballot in the 2020 election, including about 3.26 million absentee ballots. In 2016, about 4.87 million people cast a ballot in the presidential election, including about 1.27 million absentee ballots. 

Mail ballots take more time and resources to process than ballots cast at the polls. Most states allow election officials to start processing mail-in ballots in the weeks leading up to Election Day, but officials in Michigan couldn’t begin that work until Nov. 2, under a new law that allotted officials in larger juristictions a 10-hour early window to process such ballots. They were still barred from counting any ballots until Election Day, so even with that extra time to start processing, officials warned that final election results wouldn’t be known on Nov. 3. 

The morning after Election Day, Secretary of State Joceyln Benson told CNN that absentee ballots in the state’s biggest cities were still being counted. "Workers who have been counting them throughout the night continue to count them today," she said. 

By about 8 p.m. that day, all of Michigan’s votes had been tabulated, Benson said, and counties were in the final stages of reporting them out for the canvassing process to begin, the Detroit Free Press reported.   

We rate this Facebook post False.

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


Our Sources

Facebook post, Nov. 4, 2020

Michigan Secretary of State, 2020 Michigan election results, visited Nov. 5, 2020

The New York TImes, Presidential election results, visited Nov. 5, 2020

Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, #Protect2020 rumors v. reality, visited Nov. 5, 2020

NPR, In swing states, officials struggle to process ballots early due to strict local laws, Oct. 14, 2020

Politico, Michigan allows limited early ballot processing, but counting still expected to stretch past election night, Oct. 6, 2020

NPR, Why vote counting in Pennsylvania and Michigan takes so long, Nov. 4, 2020, Michigan is taking longer than many states to count its votes - here’s why, Nov. 4, 2020

Detroit Free Press, Benson: Michigan vote tabulation complete; final results being reported out, Nov. 4, 2020

Michigan Secretary of State, 2016 election results, visited Nov. 5, 2020


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No, Michigan ballots counted after Election Day aren’t fraudulent

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