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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke October 22, 2020

No, video doesn’t show voter fraud, Maryland election officials say

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  • Maryland elections officials say the worker seen writing on a ballot in a viral video was darkening an oval that was filled in too lightly so that the ballot scanner would recognize it.

A video spreading on social media purports to show voter fraud caught on camera: an election worker in Maryland changing a ballot.

But election officials in Maryland say that’s just not true.

"Ballots being changed in Maryland cough on a Yahoo livestream," reads the description in one Facebook post of a video that shows a man opening a ballot, looking around, and then seemingly writing on it.

On YouTube, the same video — titled "4chan catches voter fraud on LIVESTREAM" — had nearly 100,000 views as of Oct. 22. The claim apparently originated on 4chan, an online message board that is a known source of online disinformation, hate speech and conspiracy theories. 

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

Elections officials in Maryland’s Montgomery County said a thorough investigation revealed no evidence of fraud or misconduct, the Washington Post reported.

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Kevin Karpinski, a lawyer for the county’s elections board, told board members on Oct. 21 that the voter fraud allegation is unfounded and that he interviewed the worker in the video, reviewed every ballot he helped sort, and spoke to other volunteers who were working at the same time, the Post said. 

Gilberto Zelaya, a spokesperson for the board of elections, told a local CBS News affiliate that the video clip was apparently taken from a live Facebook feed posted by YahooFinance. Three credentialed media organizations had visited the ballot canvassing operation at the Plum Gar Community Center in Germantown on Oct. 20.

What does the video actually show? Karpinski said the worker was darkening an oval that had been filled in too lightly to ensure ballot scanners would recognize it, according to the Post. It’s a protocol that has been in place since he started working for the election board in 2003 to try to ensure as many eligible ballots as possible are counted.

Workers are supposed to ask other volunteers or supervisors if they’re unsure whether an oval needs to be darkened, a practice that’s easier when canvassers sit next to each other. This year they’re sitting 6 feet apart because of the coronavirus. 

Karpinski said the worker "followed the appropriate policies and protocols."

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No, video doesn’t show voter fraud, Maryland election officials say

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