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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke August 11, 2022

No, Pennsylvania didn’t send out more mail-in ballots than were cast in the 2020 election

If Your Time is short

  • This is an old claim that conflates mail-in ballot data from the primary and general elections in Pennsylvania in 2020. More ballots weren’t cast than were mailed out in either election. 
 

Just as some Americans continue to circulate the disproved claim that Democrats stole Donald Trump’s win in the 2020 presidential re-election, they continue to share other misinformation about the contest that President Joe Biden won legally.  

"Never forget Pennsylvania sent out 1,823,148 mail-in ballots," an Aug. 8 Facebook post says.  "They got back 2,589,242."

But those numbers conflate mail-in ballot data from two different elections and suggest there was election fraud. There wasn’t, and 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.)

According to data from the Commonwealth in Pennsylvania, Keystone State voters made 1,823,148 mail-in ballot requests for the 2020 primary election on June 2. Nearly 1.5 million absentee and mail-in ballots were ultimately cast.  

For the 2020 general election, held in November, 3,087,524 mail-in ballots were requested and 2,629,672 were returned, according to data from the Pennsylvania secretary of state that was analyzed by the U.S. Elections Project, a website tracking voter turnout, including early voting, for elections nationwide that’s run by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor.

This claim dates back to shortly after the 2020 election when Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani tried, during a hearing, to argue that there had been election fraud in Pennsylvania and said "mailed ballots sent out, 1,823,148. But when you get to the count of the final count of the vote, there were 2,589,242 mail-in-ballots."

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Around the same time, Doug Mastriano, a Republican state senator from Pennsylvania, tweeted a chart that went viral that said "Pennsylvania reports having mailed out 1,823,148 ballots of which 1,462,302 were returned. Yet total mail-in voters number 2,589,242? From where did the extra 1,126,940 votes come?" Mastriano is running for Pennsylvania governor.

Fact-checkers from numerous news outlets then debunked the allegations. They’re still wrong. 

We rate claims that Pennsylvania got more mail-in ballots back than they sent out during the 2020 general election False.

 

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No, Pennsylvania didn’t send out more mail-in ballots than were cast in the 2020 election

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