FOCUS: No fraud behind late-night votes in NJ County | New policies

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As the results of the tight New Jersey gubernatorial race poured in after Tuesday’s election, social media users began to falsely claim that real-time election results from news outlets showed evidence of fraud election in the most populous county in the state.

In reality, the publications misunderstood the real-time election reporting tags used in the Associated Press election data and reached the wrong conclusions about the Bergen County tally. Specifically, they focused on a label on those results that said 100% of ridings reported, not understanding that the percentage did not include mail-in ballots.

Even after incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy claimed a statewide victory over Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli on Wednesday night, baseless claims Democrats infamated ballots in the race in the dead of night have continued to spread online by the thousands.

Here’s a closer look at the facts.

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CLAIM: Online election results presented on news websites show that by midnight after the New Jersey gubernatorial election, Ciattarelli had won Bergen County with 100% of constituencies reporting. By morning, Murphy had sort of taken the lead and over 41,000 more votes in total had been added, suggesting potential fraud.

THE FACTS: The results do not indicate fraud. Although 100% of constituencies reported their in-person voting results late Tuesday evening, those constituency-level results did not include the Bergen County mail-in ballots, according to an AP spokesperson. , whose data was used for live elections. results on various information sites. More than 41,000 mail-in ballots were added to the tally early Wednesday morning, explaining Murphy’s pre-dawn boost.

Screenshots showing election cards and news agency tables began to spread on social media on Wednesday morning, with users insisting the images showed evidence of wrongdoing.

“At midnight, Bergen County (the largest county) was marked 100% … and in red,” said a text overlay on a widely circulated screenshot of an Instagram story. “At 7:30 am, they ‘found’ more votes and it went blue?!?! “

“New Jersey Forensic Audit,” reads a tweet that has been shared thousands of times. “Something smells good in Bergen County. “

Despite the confusion, there is a simple explanation, according to PA spokesperson Lauren Easton: 100% of constituency reports do not mean 100% of all ballots were counted.

“For example, in New Jersey, mail-in ballots are generally not included with the results of individual districts, but are instead compiled by the county and added to the results separately,” Easton said in an email. “Bergen County had informed prior to election day that it had received over 42,000 mail-in ballots. When the county reported most of those votes early Wednesday morning, AP added them to its tally. “

“Reports in constituencies are usually an accurate measure of the progress of in-person voting in constituencies on election day, but in many cases they do not account for advance or mail-in ballots,” Easton said. . “In some cases, a constituency may signal its vote in multiple stages during election night. “

Bergen County Election Division Supervisor Sabrina Taranto has confirmed that 100% of constituency reports do not mean all the ballots have been counted. Instead, she told the AP in an email, it means that “70 of the 70 cities in the Bergen County Election Day machine vote have been received and counted.”

“These totals do not reflect any other type of voting such as postal voting, provisional votes, early voting, etc.,” Taranto wrote. “This is the standard method followed by our office for each election. “

AP called the governor’s race for Murphy on Wednesday night when a batch of Republican-leaning Monmouth County votes increased Murphy’s lead and made a Ciattarelli victory impossible.

This is part of AP’s efforts to tackle widely shared disinformation, including working with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to the deceptive content circulating online. Learn more about fact checking at AP.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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