Stand up for the facts!

Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.

More Info

I would like to contribute

A sign promotes recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom at a Jan. 6 rally of Trump supporters at the California Capitol. Andrew Nixon / CapRadio A sign promotes recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom at a Jan. 6 rally of Trump supporters at the California Capitol. Andrew Nixon / CapRadio

A sign promotes recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom at a Jan. 6 rally of Trump supporters at the California Capitol. Andrew Nixon / CapRadio

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher September 14, 2021

Snafu at polling site did not target GOP voters in Calif. recall election

If Your Time is short

  • When some voters arrived at two early voting sites for the California recall election, they were told they had already voted. They were allowed to cast provisional ballots instead.

  • There is no evidence that the snafu occurred only among Republicans who tried to cast ballots.

A local TV news interview with one California voter led to a chorus of claims of a conspiracy against GOP voters in the Sept. 14 recall election for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

One misleading statement was this headline by the conservative Breitbart website:

"WATCH – California Recall: Polling Center Tells Some Republicans They ‘Already Voted.’"

Conservative outlets such as RedState and One America News network also reported on the TV interview, suggesting a threat to Republicans. 

"California viewers getting screwed again!" claimed an Instagram post by conservative commentator David Harris Jr., who has 1.4 million Instagram followers. His post included the local TV report. 

"Why is it happening now in CA recall?" Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said in a tweet

We have found no evidence of any rigging ahead of the Sept. 14 recall election. 

The evidence is of a snafu at two polling places, which was remedied, during early voting — not of a problem that targeted GOP voters specifically. 

The local TV report

KTLA-TV in Los Angeles reported on Sept. 11 that several voters said they believed "something wonky was going on" at the polling place at El Camino Real Charter High School, in the Los Angeles neighborhood Woodland Hills. When they went to cast a ballot,  they were told that computers showed they had already voted. The school was open for early voting in the election. 

Featured Fact-check

One of the voters, Estelle Bender, appeared on camera. She said that when she told an election worker that she had not already voted in the recall, the worker told her: "This has been happening all morning." 

Bender, who said she is a Republican, said she cast a provisional ballot but was "really angry." Asked by a reporter if that made her suspicious, she said: "I would think so, and still I would like to know how I voted."

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk told PolitiFact that the problems at that voting site and at a second site in Woodland Hills were "an isolated incident." 

The office issued a statement in response to the TV report, saying voters were given provisional ballots, to ensure their votes would be counted. "Provisional ballots are regular ballots, and once the eligibility of the voter is verified, they are processed and counted." The statement also said that "the equipment at the locations was replaced and voting continued."

The conservative Newsmax interviewed a man who said that when he was told he had already voted, an election worker told him that was happening to about 70% of the people who tried to vote that day. That man did not identify his polling location, but the report said it was in Woodland Hills on Sept. 11. 

Los Angeles County has one of the highest percentages of registered Democrats in California. As of Aug. 30, it ranked eighth among the counties, with more than 53% of registered voters registered as Democrats.

Our ruling

The Breitbart headline said, "Polling center tells some Republicans they ‘already voted’" in California recall election, suggesting that GOP voters were being targeted.

The evidence indicates not rigging, but an election error, which happened at two polling places and was remedied. It affected potentially any voter, not just Republicans. And people were allowed to vote by casting provisional ballots. Those ballots will be counted so long as the voter is eligible. 

The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details. We rate it Half True.

Our Sources

Interview, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk spokesperson Mike Sanchez, Sept. 13, 2021

Email, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk spokesperson Mike Sanchez, Sept. 14, 2021

KTLA-TV, "San Fernando Valley residents have trouble casting recall ballots," Sept. 11, 2021 

Breitbart, "WATCH – California Recall: Polling Center Tells Some Republicans They ‘Already Voted,’" Sept. 13, 2021

RedState, "CA RECALL: So It Begins: Woodland Hills Voters Report Trouble Casting Ballots," Sept. 12, 2021

Newsmax, "Some GOP Voters in California Recall Say Computer Showed They'd Already Voted," Sept. 13, 2021

Instagram, David Harris Jr. post, Sept. 13, 2021

Twitter, tweet, Sept. 12, 2021

Twitter, tweet, Sept. 13, 2021

Twitter, Marjorie Taylor Greene tweet, Sept. 12, 2021

Associated Press, "GOP pushes unfounded fraud claims before California recall," Sept. 14, 2021

New York Times, "False Election Claims in California Reveal a New Normal for G.O.P.," Sept. 13, 2021

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

Snafu at polling site did not target GOP voters in Calif. recall election

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up