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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman November 9, 2021

Voting machine malfunction in New Jersey isn’t evidence of fraud

If Your Time is short

  • A video of someone having trouble selecting the GOP candidate is not evidence of fraud. State election officials said they weren’t aware of any voter disenfranchisement and that there are voting machine safeguards in place to protect the integrity of the vote.

  • It’s unclear what caused the problem, but in the past, election officials have said that they often occur when the machine is out of calibration. 

A viral video of a voter in New Jersey struggling with a touch screen voting machine has spread widely across social media with claims that the machine blocked the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s name from being chosen.

"Nothing to SEE here!!! Move along!" one Facebook caption of the 56-second clip reads. 

The conservative Gateway Pundit website wrote an article about the video with this headline: "More fraud in New Jersey’s election uncovered – voting machines would not allow citizens to vote for Republican governor candidate."

In the video, a voter tries to cast her vote for Republican Jack Ciattarelli several times without success. But when she touches the name of Ciatarelli’s Democratic opponent, Gov. Phil Murphy, the machine appears to work. (It also appeared to work when she touched the name of a Republican candidate for state Senate listed below Ciattarelli). After she asks for help, a poll worker can be heard telling her to touch the center of the name and hold it. This also doesn’t seem to work.

The video appears to be authentic. Nevertheless, touchscreen voting machines are known to malfunction on an isolated basis. That is not evidence of fraud, though, and we couldn’t find additional examples of similar malfunctions from this election.  

The posts and stories 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.)

The video shows that the malfunction occurred in District 11 in Middletown Township, which is located in Monmouth County. 

The county’s superintendent of elections, Mary DeSarno, told PolitiFact that her office is aware of the video and hasn’t heard from the voter or any of the poll workers. She said she encourages the voter to contact her office so they can look into the issue further.

"It is important to note that with the new voting machines, voters have the ability to double check their votes two times before casting their ballots, which is a safeguard to protect the integrity of the vote," DeSarno added. 

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The Gateway Pundit story shared another video that appeared to show a similar problem in Bergen County, the largest in the state.

Debra M. Francica, Bergen’s superintendent of elections, acknowledged that a few voters in two locations had trouble pressing their selection on the county’s older voting machines for a particular candidate, but said technicians tested the machines and found no issues.

Francica told PolitiFact that the technicians advised poll workers to tell voters to press harder with their thumb or a stylus to make their choices. "Our office is not aware of any voter disenfranchisement," she said in an email.

Ciattarelli defeated Murphy in Monmouth County by about 43,000 votes, garnering 58.9%. In Bergen, Murphy beat Ciattarelli by about 14,000 votes, winning 52.4%.

The videos show two different types of voting machines, and we don’t know exactly what caused the problem. In the past, election officials have said that these types of errors often occur when the machine is out of calibration. 

Particularly with older voting machines, like the ones used in Bergen County, if the touch screen and the digital display that lies just underneath it aren’t properly aligned, the machine is considered out of calibration. Anything from temperature changes, rough handling, or even just the passage of time can cause screens to lose calibration, election officials previously told us, and some machines need frequent, manual calibration in order to keep them working properly.

Our ruling

Videos of voting machine malfunctions in New Jersey are being shared online with the claim that they are proof of election fraud.

It does appear that there were issues with some of the touchscreen machines. But none of the videos prove that voters were denied the ability to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice, or that the machines didn’t end up working correctly at a different time. 

The claim has an element of truth, because the video appears authentic. But it is not proof of fraud. We rate the claim Mostly False. 

Our Sources

Gateway Pundit, "More Fraud in New Jersey’s Election Uncovered – Voting Machines Would Not Allow Citizens to Vote for Republican Governor Candidate," Nov. 4, 2021

PolitiFact, Viral video of voting machine malfunction in Mississippi governor runoff, explained, Aug. 29, 2019 

Facebook post, Nov. 3, 2021 

Email interview, Debra M. Francica, Bergen County Superintendent of Elections/Commissioner of Registration, Nov. 4 2021

Email interview, Mary DeSarno, Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections/Commissioner of Registration, Nov. 5, 2021

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Voting machine malfunction in New Jersey isn’t evidence of fraud

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