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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke August 26, 2022

No, dead people didn’t cast half of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election votes

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  • This claim is unfounded. 
  • Election officials and experts say incidents of ballots cast on behalf of dead people are rare, and isolated enough that they wouldn’t change an election’s outcome. 

We’ve previously written about the false "zombie claim" that dead people vote for Democrats, and unsurprisingly, it’s back. 

An image being shared on social media compares the 2020 election with a recent failed effort to recall Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón. 

"2022 Gascon recall," text in the image says. "They got enough signatures to recall Los Angeles DA George Gascon. Interesting. Invalidate 30% of the signatures. 2020 presidential election. 50% of these votes are from dead people." 

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.)

It’s true that close to 30% of the signatures submitted to put a recall election of Gascón on the ballot were disqualified for reasons that included signatures from people who didn’t live in Los Angeles County or who weren’t registered to vote, according to the county’s registrar-recorder. Petitioners needed to collect 566,857 valid signatures to get the recall of Gascón, a Democrat, on the ballot. Of the 715,833 submitted, 520,050 were considered valid. 

Politifact recently explored the Gascón recall election and its rejected petition signatures. There is no connection between the effort to recall Gascón and the 2020 general election.

The claim that more than half of the  81 million votes for President Joe Biden were cast on behalf of dead people is unfounded.

Thessalia Merivaki, a political scientist at Mississippi State University who studies voter fraud, has told us there’s "zero evidence" that ballots by dead people account for more than a tiny fraction of all votes recorded.  

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"This is a common campaign tactic to spread distrust in the integrity of elections," Merivaki said. "There are several reports that debunk the myth that dead voters vote in elections at such high numbers that the outcome of the election can be questioned."

She pointed us to two news stories. The first story, in The Guardian, a United Kingdom-based news organization, reported on an investigation in Arizona that looked into allegations that nearly 300 dead people may have voted in the 2020 general election. In the end, only one person was actually dead at the time of the election. 

The second story debunked claims that 14,000 dead people voted in the 2020 election in Wayne County, Michigan. The list of alleged dead voters included people who weren’t Wayne County residents, people who didn’t receive or cast an absentee ballot, and at least one woman who appeared to be alive. 

There’s no national database of registered voters — living or dead.  That means each local election office is responsible for removing voters who have died or have moved to another jurisdiction from their rolls. 


Election officials receive death records from the U.S. Social Security Administration or a state office. In addition, 33 states and the District of Columbia belong to the Electronic Registration Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based consortium that helps states share and update voter registration information, including death records.

When a ballot is cast on behalf of a dead person, election officials say it’s usually a family member doing so. But this doesn’t happen enough to change the outcome of an election. 

Since the 2020 presidential election, evidence has only grown that it was secure. The Associated Press in December 2021 found fewer than 475 potential voter fraud cases in six battleground states.

We rate claims that half of Biden’s voters were dead Pants on Fire.


Our Sources

Instagram post, Aug. 16, 2022

PolitiFact, Debunking the zombie claim that ‘dead people always vote Democrat,’ June 2, 2022

PolitiFact, List does not show over 14,000 dead people cast ballots in Michigan’s Wayne County, Nov. 6, 2020

PolitiFact, Ask PolitiFact: What steps do election officials take to prevent fraud?, June 1, 2022

The Guardian, Investigation debunks bogus ‘audit’ claiming 300 dead people voted in Arizona in 2020, Aug. 2, 2022

The Cook Political Report, 2020 National Popular Vote Tracker, visited Aug. 25, 2022

The New York Times, Effort to Recall Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón Fails, Aug. 16, 2022

Electronic Registration Information Center, Website, Accessed May 9, 2022

PolitiFact, Why it’s misleading to compare Los Angeles recall petition rejections with mail ballot rejections, Aug. 19, 2022

Email interview with Thessalia Merivaki, assistant professor at Mississippi State University, Aug. 24, 2022


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No, dead people didn’t cast half of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election votes

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