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

No, these aren’t photos of trashed 2022 election ballots

If Your Time is short

  • These photos are from news stories in 2020 and 2021.
  • This claim originated on a satirical Twitter account.

Two photos of piles of mail including ballots were posted on Instagram after the midterm election with a worrisome caption.

 "ELECTION22: From L.A. County California to Chavez County New Mexico, garbage collectors report finding thousands of midterm ballots in trash at hundreds of locations," the Nov. 10 post said.

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.)

We did reverse image searches for both photos and quickly found that neither are from 2022 or Los Angeles County or Chaves County (which is spelled with an s, not a z). 

One of the images shows evidence in a case against a U.S. postal worker who was arrested in July 2020 in Essex County, New Jersey, on grounds he dumped hundreds of pieces of mail including general election ballots and campaign flyers. 


The other image was released by the sheriff’s office in Outagamie County, Wisconsin, in February 2021. It shows "multiple photos of mail that was scattered throughout a ditch," a CBS News affiliate reported at the time. Authorities discovered it in September 2020.

"The content of the mail was mixed, but did contain several absentee ballots," the sheriff’s office said in a statement at the time. 

We found no credible reports to corroborate the claim that garbage collectors have allegedly found thousands of midterm ballots in the trash. This claim appears to have originated on the Twitter account of @SpeculationNews, which is so named, according to its bio, "because it’s all made up anyway." 

We rate claims that these photos show trashed 2022 midterm ballots Pants on Fire!


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No, these aren’t photos of trashed 2022 election ballots

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