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

No, Democrats didn’t steal ‘every election in the country’ with mail ballots

If Your Time is short

  • Voter fraud, including for mail ballots, is statistically rare. States have processes to verify absentee ballots that include signature verification for mail ballots and providing photocopies of ID documents with the ballot. 
  • Democrats fared better than expected in the midterms, but not all incumbents kept their seats. 
  • There’s no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2022 elections, just as there wasn’t in 2020.

Sometimes political candidates urge their party to reflect after an election. After failing to oust the incumbent Minnesota governor, for example, Republican candidate Scott Jensen said, "We need to stop, we need to recalibrate, we need to ask ourselves: ‘OK, what can we learn from this?’"

A recent Instagram post says that Democrats learned a different kind of lesson in 2020: how to better steal an election. 

"Let’s just cook this weeks ahead of time with 47 MILLION mail-in ballots while nobody is watching," the post says. "That’s enough ballots to steal every election in the country and that’s just what they did. Not a single incumbent lost anywhere; they took care of everyone who helped them in their 2020 fraud like good little quid pro quo lizards."  

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 Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

There’s a lot that’s wrong here. 


First, former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden, and claims that it was rigged have been refuted by audits, judges, investigators and officials in the Trump administration.

There’s no evidence to support the claim that Democrats are using tens of millions of mail-in ballots to rig the 2022 election. Voter fraud, including for mail-in ballots, is statistically rare. Most states require signature verification for mail ballots, and those that don’t have other processes to verify the ballots, such as providing photocopies of ID documents with the ballot. 

We don’t yet know how many mail-in ballots were cast in the 2022 midterms.

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Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida who tracks pre-Election Day turnout for his United States Election Project, told PolitiFact "it’s hard to say at this point exactly how many mail ballots there will be."

According to his tally, more than 58.1 million mail ballots were requested across the country, and more than 25.4 million were returned before Election Day. But the number of mail ballots cast and received after Election Day would be "fairly significant," he said. (Thirty states require voters to return ballots on or before Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; 19 others accept ballots postmarked on or before that day.) 

In recent elections, Democrats voted by mail more than Republicans. Between 2008 and 2016, Democrats were slightly more likely to vote by mail than Republicans, according to MIT Election Data + Science Lab. In 2020, the partisan difference in voting by mail increased "substantially." 

But even if the number of mail ballots reaches 47 million, they weren’t all cast by Democrats, as the post suggests. 

Finally, the post is wrong that no incumbents lost their elections. It’s true that Democrats fared better than expected, but they didn't all keep their seats. In Virginia, Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans ousted Democratic U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria. Among other Democrats who lost:  U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y.

Prominent statewide races for U.S. Senate in Arizona and Nevada, for seats held by Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Catherine Cortez Masto, were still too close to call early Nov. 11.

As for this Facebook post, we rate the claim Pants on Fire!

RELATED: We fact-checked misinformation about the midterm elections, from Maricopa County to Detroit  


Our Sources

Instagram post, Nov. 9, 2022

United States Election Project, 2022 General Election Early Voting Statistics, visited Nov. 9, 2022

MIT Election Data + Science Lab, How We Voted in 2020: A First Look at the Survey of the Performance of American Elections, Dec. 15, 2020

PolitiFact, Trump’s cascade of falsehoods about voting by mail, Nov. 1, 2020

PolitiFact, Most states require signature verification for mail ballots, July 31, 2021

PolitiFact, Claims that the 2020 election was stolen are still false, May 4, 2022

National Conference of State Legislatures, Table 11: Receipt and Postmark Deadlines for Absentee/Mail Ballots, July 12, 2022

Email interview with Michael McDonald, political science professor, University of Florida, Nov. 10, 2022

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No, Democrats didn’t steal ‘every election in the country’ with mail ballots

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