5 misinformation debunks from Election Week

Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as part of a "Stop the Steal" protest. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan talks to them about why they believe the election was stolen.

Posted: Nov 9, 2020 5:01 PM
Updated: Nov 9, 2020 5:01 PM

A very long election week made way for numerous fake claims to circulate on social media.

From baseless assertions that thousands of deceased people in Michigan voted to a fake video of "ballots" burning that was shared by Eric Trump, misinformation went viral online.

Here's the truth about some of the biggest misinformation stories from Election Week.

Claims that dead people were voting went viral

Prominent Republicans alleged that Democrats were using dead people to steal Michigan's Electoral College votes from Trump.

A CNN analysis of the claim and the purported backing for it did not find a single instance of that happening.

CNN examined 50 of the more than 14,000 names on the list by taking the first 25 names on the list and then 25 more picked at random. We ran the names through Michigan's Voter Information database to see if they requested or returned a ballot. We then checked the names against publicly available records to see if they were indeed dead. Of the 50, 37 were indeed dead and had not voted, according to the voter information database. Five people out of the 50 had voted -- and they are all still alive, according to public records accessed by CNN. The remaining eight are also alive but didn't vote.

The sample CNN reviewed is not representative, but the trend was clear -- not a single one of the names examined was of a dead person voting.

Right-wing media portrayed window covering at ballot center as nefarious

Right-wing media outlets portrayed a move at a Detroit ballot-counting center as nefarious. These outlets reported on a decision by poll workers at the TCF Center in Detroit to partially cover windows with cardboard as they counted ballots inside and a group of apparent Trump supporters gathered outside.

However, a city official told CNN Business that the measure at the center of controversy was taken to ensure private voter data wasn't inappropriately exposed to the public. Those concerns were compounded by the fact that protesters standing outside the ballot-counting area were taking photographs and recording video.

A viral 'ballot' burning video shared by Eric Trump was fake

A viral video that purports to show about 80 "ballots," all for Donald Trump, being burned is fake, Virginia Beach city officials say.

The video, which surfaced on Election Day, features a man with a plastic bag full of papers that look like ballots, which he doused with a flammable liquid and set aflame. The person, whose face is never shown, claims the 80 false "ballots" are "all for President Trump" on the video.

But the ballots are not real. The city of Virginia Beach said the papers are clearly sample ballots, rather than official ballots, since they lack the "bar code markings that are on all official ballots," according to a statement released last week. The statement showed an official ballot and compared it to a screenshot of the false video.

Eric Trump, the President's son, retweeted the video last week. However, the account Eric Trump retweeted has now been suspended, so the video can no longer be seen on his feed.

False rumors about Sharpies went viral

False claims that using Sharpie pens could invalidate ballots in Arizona prompted a top Department of Homeland Security official last week to urge people to stop spreading disinformation online.

Rumors began to spread on social media last Wednesday that voters in the battleground state of Arizona who used Sharpie pens on their ballots wouldn't have their votes counted, which was quickly dubbed "#SharpieGate."

That confusion prompted state officials, election monitors and a top Trump administration official to push on the rumors.

The situation prompted a lawsuit, joined by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, filed against Maricopa County election officials.

A Michigan election map with false information went viral and landed in Trump's Twitter feed

President Trump tweeted an image of an electoral map of Michigan that purported to show an unexplained jump overnight in the number of returned ballots in the state. The claim: According to the data in the map, 138,000 ballots had come in out of nowhere, and all of them were for Biden.

The image was real. But the idea that it indicated fraud was absolutely false, though the people sharing it likely initially did not know that the data in the map was wrong.

The image was a screenshot of a map on the website Decision Desk HQ, which tracks election results and has powered results data for media outlets like BuzzFeed News. After Trump's tweet on Wednesday, Decision Desk HQ said there had been an error in the data it had been sent from Michigan's Shiawassee County. "Once we identified the error, we cleared the erroneous data and updated it with the correct data as provided by officials," Decision Desk HQ said in a statement to CNN.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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