Fact Check: Debunking Several Claims by Diamond and Silk
Voting was never stopped, vote-counting didn’t come “to a screeching halt,” and data irregularities in unofficial vote reporting do not prove discrepancies in the actual vote.
|Alec Dent||Nov 30, 2020||33||11|
On Saturday, President Donald Trump and his campaign tweeted a video of Diamond and Silk—the former Fox News personalities who were fired for spreading coronavirus conspiracy theories—expounding on voter and election fraud.
In the video, Rochelle Richardson, or Silk, asked: “What was the legal reason for stopping the voting on election night? You know that everything all of a sudden came to a screeching halt. … And then how did everybody decide to stop all at the same time?”
There was no “stopping the voting” on Election Day. Several states paused vote counting late at night, hardly an unusual move considering the human need for sleep, but there have been no credible reports of voters being turned away at the polls before they closed. And how did everybody decide to stop all at the same time? They didn’t. Several examples from battleground states: Butler County, Pennsylvania, stopped their count at 11 p.m. because of a scanner breakdown. Fulton County, Georgia, stopped scanning absentee ballots at 10:30 p.m. Ballot counting did not stop at all in Wisconsin—where state law mandates no interruption can occur—or in Philadelphia, where officials announced they would stop issuing results at 9:30 p.m. but continued counting ballots. North Carolina stopped counting votes on Election Night for a very simple reason: They ran out of ballots to count.
Silk also alleged that “in Pennsylvania on November 3 at 11:08 p.m., President Trump all of a sudden lost 17,877 votes. It was removed from his count, while at the same time Biden gained 17,930 votes.” Silk explained the basis for making this claim was “time stamp entries from the New York Times.” This particular claim seems to have originated on the discussion board website thedonald.win, which featured a post on November 10 titled “I FOUND EVIDENCE OF THE PENNSYLVANIA GLITCH.” The post claimed that in one vote update on the New York Times website, 54 votes were added but "the ratio changed in Biden's favor by a whole 0.6%" effectively adding 17,930 for Biden and removing 17,877 votes for Trump. The evidence for this claim is a snippet of code taken from the New York Times’ Pennsylvania election results webpage:
The difference in the vote toal at the 4:08 timestamp versus the 4:07 timestamp is 54 votes, yet the increase in the share of votes for Trump and Biden switched from 0.566 and 0.42 respectively to 0.56 and 0.426 respectively. Mick West wrote a breakdown of this data irregularity for his website Metabunk, pointing out a number of instances in the data in which Trump gained votes and Biden lost votes. West posited that these changes, along with the ones noted in the post on thedonald.win, are corrections to errant data, noting that the most fluctuation occurred in the early stages of vote reporting.
It is also important to bear in mind that data irregularities in the unofficial vote reporting done by media outlets on Election Night do not prove discrepancies in the vote: Anomalies like the number of votes not matching up to the percentage earned by candidates would be picked up when the vote was certified during the county canvas.
The New York Times Vice-President for Communications Danielle Rhoades Ha told The Dispatch Fact Check that, “Sometimes over the course of reporting results officials or results providers make mistakes, such as mixing up two numbers, and they correct those mistakes as they verify the data. These changes are common in the difficult task of reporting millions of votes across thousands of races, and are not at all unusual.”
She explained that this error error was corrected within the hour: “At 11:08 p.m, Biden and Trump’s totals were flipped in Armstrong county in Pennsylvania. ... This mistake was corrected about an hour later. At 11:08 p.m. Trump’s total declined by 19,958 votes. At 12:22 a.m., Biden’s total declined by 19,958 votes. Reporting one without the other is not accurate.”
The code from 12:22 a.m. shows a far bigger shift in the vote share than had occurred in the vote updates immediately preceding it, and this shift benefitted Trump:
Despite repeated accusations by President Trump and prominent supporters, no widespread voter fraud has been uncovered.
Editor’s note: After we published this fact check, the New York Times responded to our request for comment. The piece has been updated to include its statment.
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Photograph from the Alex Jones YouTube channel/Wikimedia Commons.