On Friday, PolitiFact broke down everything that’s really known about a curious incident in which California ballots were discovered abandoned in a mountain ravine — even as conspiracy theorists online take the incident viral, claiming it’s evidence of a Democratic plot to steal the 2022 midterm elections.
“On Nov. 11, an NBC News affiliate in California’s Bay Area reported that a woman had reported finding a bag stuffed with completed Santa Clara County ballots in a mountain ravine there,” reported Ciara O’Rourke. “A recent Instagram post shared an authentic clip of the coverage, but wrongly claimed that it illustrates ‘how the left cheats to win.'”
The discarded ballots were genuine. Although the U.S. Postal Service is currently looking into how they got there, there is no proof that Democratic operatives were involved in any foul play, and most of those votes still ended up being counted.
“We reached out to the Santa Clara County registrar of voters about the post and asked whether there’s any evidence to show that Democratic operatives are behind the recovered ballots,” said the report. “The registrar of voters’ responded with a Nov. 16 press release that does not corroborate such a claim.”
“In all, 36 ballots were recovered and turned over to the voter registrar Nov. 14,” said the report. “After the required validation and signature verification processes, 31 were eligible and counted in the election. Four of the ballots had open envelopes and the registrar ‘is unable to count ballots whose envelopes have been opened or sufficiently torn such that the ballot may have been tampered with,’ the press release said. The remaining ballot had a signature that didn’t match the voter’s signature on file.”
Some Trump supporters have attempted to make the false accusation that the election was rigged after the 2022 midterm elections produced disappointing results for Republicans, with Democrats holding control of the Senate and Republicans only narrowly winning the House. Kari Lake, a pro-Trump candidate for governor of Arizona, for instance, claimed that a few Maricopa County precincts’ tabulators were broken, despite the fact that voters could still cast their ballots by another means.