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- The majority of 36 ballots recovered from a mountain ravine in Santa Clara County, California, were counted. The incident is under local and federal investigation. But there’s no known evidence tying the case to Democrats trying to steal the election there.
On Nov. 11, an NBC News affiliate in California’s Bay Area reported that a woman had reported finding a bag stuffed with completed Santa Clara County ballots in a mountain ravine there.
A recent Instagram post shared an authentic clip of the coverage, but wrongly claimed that it illustrates "how the left cheats to win."
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 reached out to the Santa Clara County registrar of voters about the post and asked whether there’s any evidence to show that Democratic operatives are behind the recovered ballots.
The registrar of voters’ responded with a Nov. 16 press release that does not corroborate such a claim.
In all, 36 ballots were recovered and turned over to the voter registrar Nov. 14.
After the required validation and signature verification processes, 31 were eligible and counted in the election. Four of the ballots had open envelopes and the registrar "is unable to count ballots whose envelopes have been opened or sufficiently torn such that the ballot may have been tampered with," the press release said. The remaining ballot had a signature that didn’t match the voter’s signature on file.
The ballots were discovered in the ravine among other nonelection mail. The U.S. Postal Service is investigating the incident, and the registrar referred the matter to the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, which is coordinating with the Postal Service, the press release said.
We found no evidence suggesting that the abandoned ballots were part of a Democratic scheme to steal the election, as the post suggests.
We don’t yet know how and why the ballots wound up in the ravine, but to claim that it displays how the left "cheats to win" is unfounded. We rate this post False.
Instagram post, Nov. 17, 2022
NBC Bay Area, Woman Reports Finding Election Ballots in Ravine in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Nov. 11, 2022
NBC Bay Area, Estimated 1 to 2 Dozen Ballots Found in Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Clara County Says, Nov. 13, 2022
Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, REGISTRAR OF VOTERS WILL COUNT RECOVERED BALLOTS IN OFFICIAL ELECTION RESULTS, Nov. 16, 2022
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