Your civic-duty checklist today: Vote, and share a fact check
Tuesday is Election Day, so you can expect two things to rain down on you in buckets: People reminding you to vote on Tuesday, and people sharing misleading memes and fake news stories about “rigged elections.”
So what can you do?
Besides reporting every fake news story you see on Facebook and every scam on Twitter, you can retweet journalists’ authentic fact-checks published about alleged “election-rigging.” Here, we’ve made it easier to locate specific fact checks by organizing them into five categories.
So when your Facebook friend tells you a poll worker was changing votes or a tweetstorm claims voting machines have ties to Clinton money, all you need to do is share the helpful links we’ve listed below. But first, you need to know that voting fraud is very, very rare. This extremely simply graphic shows just how uncommon it is.
Why is voting fraud rare? Possibly because it’s difficult, and people aren’t too good at it. Here’s a voter who allegedly was so suspicious of voter fraud at her polling place that she committed voter fraud.
Usually, accusations of voting fraud simply do not make sense. A county election director in North Carolina is pretty exasperated by talk of a voting fraud attack on Donald Trump in a county where Trump won. “(Trump) won North Carolina in the primary, didn’t he? We’re using the same equipment, the same process, and the same procedures,” Michael Dickerson told a Fox television affiliate in Charlotte, N.C. Cyber activists changing your vote after you leave your polling place? Also nonsensical; voting machines aren’t connected to the Internet.
Here’s your list of handy topics and links, with thanks to fact-checkers from PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, NPR, PBS, The Washington Post, Politico, Vox, First Draft News and more:
1. Getting out the dead vote
Casting a vote for a dead person is hugely inefficient, says PBS News Hour, and would only be useful in a place where the outcome could be affected by a couple of votes.
“It’s a felony with hardly any payoff,” according to a Pew researcher.
2. Illegal voting
Numerous memes have felons and illegal immigrants voting by the thousands, but there’s simply no evidence of that. A recent, widely circulated report said that thousands of unqualified people had voted in Virginia, for example. But election expert Richard Hasen says that in truth, only 31 non-citizens in 10 years — out of “millions and millions” of votes cast — had actually voted.
Another report that “14 percent of non-citizens” have voted in past elections has been widely criticized by experts. A subsequent, more robust study showed few such cases, and even those “are nearly certainly citizen voters who are misclassified as being non-citizens,” according to a Washington Post Fact Checker article.
Want to see how good you are at spotting fake election fraud rumors? Take (and share) this BuzzFeed quiz.
A meme making the rounds on Facebook says that a Texas woman’s vote was switched from Republican to Democrat just before she handed over her ballot. But an election official says that investigations of “vote-switching” have identified “human error” as the problem: i.e., voters accidentally selecting the wrong party.
4. The “stay-at-home” memes
Much of the fake rhetoric is designed to keep people away from the polls. This one assures people they can vote for Hillary Clinton via text message.
Rumors about gangs of “poll watchers” descending on polling places also are aimed at intimidating voters, who may just opt to stay home. But such tactics are rare and difficult to organize, according to this NPR interview. And remember, people at the polling place who are there to support their candidate are not “poll watchers” and must keep their distance from you, as this CNN article explains.
And no, you cannot print a ballot from your home computer and mail in your vote, as some Coloradans have been told.
5. Photos and videos
Just one of many examples: A video showing images of people literally stuffing a ballot box with pieces of paper turned out to be a Russian production, First Draft News found. See how they figured this out.
Stuffing a ballot box, by the way, “is a knuckle-headed way to try to corrupt an election,” a political science professor told PolitiFact.