As California’s September 14 election on whether to recall Governor Gavin Newsom drew closer, unfounded rumors about the event grew.
Here are two pieces of information that are going viral online, how they spread and why, state and local officials say, they’re wrong.
Rumor #1: Holes in ballot envelopes were used to filter out “yes” votes for withdrawal.
On August 19, a woman posted a video on Instagram of her placing her California special election ballot in an envelope.
“You have to pay attention to the two holes in the front of the envelope,” she says, and brings the holes closer to the camera so viewers can see them. “You can see if someone voted ‘yes’ to call Newsom back. This in my opinion is very sketchy and irresponsible, but this is a deceitful question.”
The idea that the holes in the ballot envelopes were used to remove the votes of those who want Governor Newsom, a Democrat, to be revoked quickly online, according to a review by The New York Times.
Recall election in California
The video on Instagram has garnered nearly half a million views. On the messaging app Telegram, posts saying California is rigging the special election have garnered nearly 200,000 views. And an article about the ballot hole on the right website The Gateway Pundit reached 626,000 people on Facebook, according to data from CrowdTangle, a social media analytics tool owned by Facebook.
State and local officials say voting holes are not new and must not be used illegally. Jenna Dresner, a spokeswoman for the California Secretary of State’s Office of Election Cybersecurity, said holes were placed in the envelope, at either end of a signature line, to help low-vision voters know. signboard.
Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles county registrar, added that the ballot envelope design has been used for several election cycles, and civil design consultants have proposed alternative designs. gap to get access. He said voters can choose to put their ballot in an envelope in a way that doesn’t reveal any ballot marking through a hole.
Instagram has since tagged the original video’s authenticity verification to note that it could mislead people. According to CrowdTangle data.
Rumor #2: An outlaw steals votes to help Governor Newsom win the recall election.
On August 17, police in Torrance, California, published a Facebook post saying officers responded to a call about a man who had passed out in his car in a parking lot. 7-Eleven. Police said the man had items such as loaded guns, drugs and thousands of pieces of mail, including more than 300 unopened mail-in ballots for the special election.
Far-right websites like Red Voice Media and Conservative Firing Line claimed the incident was an example of Democrats trying to steal an election through mail-in ballots. Their articles were then shared on Facebook, where they collectively reached 1.57 million people, according to CrowdTangle data.
Mark Ponegalek, a public information officer for the Torrance Police Department, said the investigation into the incident is continuing. The US postal inspector, he said, is also involved and has not come to a conclusion.
As a result, he said, articles and online posts concluding that the man was attempting voter fraud were “baseless.”
“I have no indication to tell you one way or another right now” whether the man intended to cheat the election with the ballots he collected, Mr. Ponegalek said. He added that the man may have intended to commit identity fraud.