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The fact that the turnout tally at one point was reported as lower than it was six minutes earlier merely reflects changes in Fox News' estimates, Fox News says.
Late on Nov. 2, as vote totals were tallied and reported in the tight governor’s race in Virginia, social media posts emerged claiming that the election results were being manipulated.
One allegation was made in a since-deleted Instagram post that showed two still images from Fox News coverage. Arrows were added pointing to the percentages of how much of the vote had been counted in the race.
The top image, at 10:55 p.m. CT, showed 97% of the vote in; the bottom image, six minutes later, showed 94%. In both images, Republican Glenn Youngkin was shown leading Democrat Terry McAuliffe, 51.2% to 48.1%.
"WTF IS THIS CRAP!?" the poster wrote. Commenters alleged fraud and cheating.
Similar claims were made on Twitter, citing Fox News and New York Times reports. Users questioned whether the results were being manipulated by election officials, or by Fox or the Times.
"Fox News went from 97% reporting to 94% in Virginia. The fraud is so blatant it's not funny anymore," a user tweeted.
According to Fox News, the change was due simply to the way the network estimated turnout.
About 12:20 a.m. on Nov. 3, Fox News anchor Bret Baier said on the air:
"I’m getting a lot of emails and messages about our screen there that went from 97% to 95%, and I asked those questions to the decision desk and "basically, the answer is, the expected vote number is an estimate and the turnouts in some of these areas were greater than expected."
Baier then turned to Fox anchor Bill Hemmer, who was standing in front of an interactive map in which some vote turnout percentages were labeled as estimates. Hemmer said the turnout estimates are "based on the numbers for the governor’s race from four years ago. So, that’s factored in this equation, and when you do get a big turnout, it’s hard to know, who’s doing early vote by mail, it’s hard to know who showed up on election day. But that helps explain where the estimates are….We don’t know how much of a vote is out there."
Fox News uses its own estimates to predict turnout percentage, rather than using an older model that gives the percentage of precincts reporting in a given geographic area. Arnon Mishkin explained the model in an election forum prior to the 2020 election. (Factcheckers at Reuters recently highlighted the video of Mishkin explaining the model in their report on the same issue.)
We rate the post False.
Instagram, post, Nov. 2, 2021
Interview, Fox News spokesperson, Nov. 3, 2021
Fox News, "Glenn Youngkin holds lead in Virginia governor race," Nov. 3, 2021
Twitter search, Nov. 3, 2021
Tweet, Nov. 3, 2021
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