#SharpieGate is fake. Ballots are not ‘magically’ found. Biden did not win all mail-in votes in Michigan.

Misinformation running rampant online

In this Nov. 3, 2020, photo, a worker scans and tabulate ballots at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department in Doral, Fla. As election postmortems go, the one that began in Florida Wednesday was especially wrenching for Democrats. While they could share in the possibility of a Biden victory, as other battleground states continue to tally votes, the soul searching and second-guessing has begun amid another high-profile loss at the ballot box. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Fake claims about the 2020 Election are flooding social media -- as expected.

On Election Day, misinformation was on the quiet side, but as the U.S. waits for votes for be counted, false theories, claims, images, videos and posts have flooded social media.

We can’t check every single thing on the internet, because there are not enough hours in the day. But here are some of the bigger ones:


As votes continue to be counted in Arizona, viral social media posts suggest that election officials in Maricopa County provided voters with Sharpie pens, which interfered with ballots being recorded, specifically those for President Donald Trump.

Arizona election officials say that voting with a Sharpie would have no impact on the votes being recorded by tabulation machines, and if there was an issue, there is a process that would keep the ballots from being canceled out. The Maricopa County Elections Department tweeted on Election Day that voting centers use Sharpies so that ink does not smudge when ballots are counted.

Related: Michigan SOS: Our website is always last place for election results to be updated

Even in Michigan, the rumor made it to the Kent County Clerk, who also debunked the posts. “Sharpies are the preferred device of our election equipment vendor. Black or blue pen also acceptable for proper tabulating. Bleed through is not a concern as ballots are programmed to ignore bleed.”

The Michigan SOS also debunked it: "The use of a Sharpie to mark a ballot will not invalidate or cancel a ballot or vote. If the marker does bleed through to the other side, ballots are designed so that the bleed through does not touch or come near a voting area on the other side of the ballot.

It will not alter or cancel any vote on the opposite side. The Sharpie is the recommended marking instrument by the tabulator manufacturer and is preferable to an ink pen because it dries quickly and will not leave residue on the ballot scanner."

#SharpieGate is fake. Do not believe it.

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

What is the Trust Index?

Ballots are being “magically” found or burned

As President Trump’s Election Night lead faded in some states overnight as mail-in voting counts were being reported, Trump claimed, without evidence, the ballots were being “MAGICALLY” found. There is no evidence to support this.

Biden’s early morning comeback in the closely watched Midwestern state was simply the result of absentee and early votes being counted.

This was expected. Polling showed a huge advantage for Biden in mail-in voting, and mail-in voting takes longer to count. Trump had a lead with in-person voting, which is reported quicker. That’s why Trump had early leads in some states. There is nothing suspicious about this -- votes are just being counted.

Related: Trump and allies spread falsehoods to cast doubt on election

It’s standard practice in the United States to continue counting votes after Election Day.

In some states, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, ballots could not be counted until Election Day. Efforts to expand this window were blocked by Republican Legislatures.

Ballots were also not “DUMPED” in Detroit overnight on Election Night. The last ballots to be collected when polls closed had to be verified before being sent to TCF Center to be counted, according to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Claims that ballots are being magically found are false. There is no evidence to support this claim.

Additionally, a tweet from Eric Trump appearing to show ballots for Trump being burned has been labeled as fake news after election officials in Virginia Beach, where the video was allegedly taken, said the ballots were not real.

Both of these claims are false. Do not share them.

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

What is the Trust Index?

Biden did not win 100% of the mail-in vote in Michigan

After Trump’s early lead in Michigan (again, as expected) dwindled overnight as mail-in ballots were reported in the state, claims that voting dumps showed Biden with 100% of newly reported votes surfaced on social media.

This is obviously false. The tweet that went viral (President Trump even retweeted it) with these fake charts has since been deleted, and the conservative political commentator Matt Mackowiak apologized for the mistake.

According to a New York Times analysis, more than 433,000 mail-in ballots were counted for Trump in Michigan, about 30 percent of the mail-in ballot vote in the state.

📱 Be your own fact-checker

Most people don’t want to share inaccurate information, but sometimes it happens. How can you play defense? Here are some tips:

  • Check your sources: Where are you reading it? Who is reporting it? Are they credible? Watch out for “pink slime” local news sites.
  • Social media origins: If you see something floating around social media, like a meme or a story, try to find the original source and check it yourself.
  • Go beyond the headline: Some headlines are purposely misleading and don’t tell a complete story.
  • Share the right information: Be a sharer of the correct news and information! Send accurate information to your friends and family, post it on your social feeds, forward this newsletter. It’s nice to be right. (And be nice about it, nobody wants to be called out on being wrong)

✅ What would you like us to fact-check?

The Trust Index team fact checks questionable information circulating on social media and in our communities. Use the form here to share claims you’d like checked out.

Find more Trust Index stories right here on ClickOnDetroit.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.