Bogus Theory Misinterprets FTX Support for Ukraine – FactCheck.org


Quick Take

The bankruptcy of FTX, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has sparked an unfounded claim that its former CEO had conspired with Ukraine and Democratic politicians to launder U.S. aid money. FTX helped make crypto donations available to Ukraine; it wasn’t taking any assets from Ukraine.


Full Story

FTX, which had been one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11 after a deal fell through for it to be acquired by a larger rival and its customers scrambled to withdraw their money.

The exchange had been lending customer deposits to the hedge fund owned by its then-CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, which is at least part of the reason why there wasn’t enough money available to repay all of FTX’s customers, Bankman-Fried said in an interview following the bankruptcy.

Russian state media and some high-profile U.S. conservatives have made the company’s downfall political, though, pushing a conspiracy theory that involves money laundering through Ukraine.

The Gateway Pundit, a conservative website that has a history of spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories, posted a story on Nov. 12 claiming that “Tens of Billions of US Dollars Were Transferred to Ukraine and then Using FTX Crypto Currency the Funds Were Laundered Back to Democrats in US.”

The following day, the state-owned Russian news outlet RT picked up on that claim and posted a story repeating it.

And, the day after that, Fox News commentator Jesse Watters made the claim, telling his roughly 2.7 million viewers that Ukraine had used U.S. aid money and “invested” in FTX, speculating that it may be part of a “money laundering” scheme to benefit the Democratic Party. Watters included a graphic that depicted a circular flow of money that started and ended with President Joe Biden.

The same evening that Watters’ show aired, former President Donald Trump amplified essentially the same graphic on his social media platform, Truth Social, where he has 4.6 million followers. Other conservative commentators, such as Terrence K. Williams, have also shared it.

Since that graphic represents the most widespread version of the claim, that’s what we’ll address.

The image Trump promoted is shown at right — it claims that President Joe Biden had given “U.S. tax $” to Ukraine; Ukraine had used that money in a deal with FTX; FTX’s then-CEO had donated it to the Democratic Party and political action committees; and the Democratic Party had backed Biden.

We’ll start at the beginning — with U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, the U.S. has sent more than $20 billion in security assistance aid to Ukraine, according to a Congressional Research Service report published in October. Most of that total amount has been sent since Russia’s more recent invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. That aid has been in the form of equipment and training, according to an overview from the Department of Defense.

The U.S. has also authorized billions more in humanitarian and financial aid and is the largest contributor of total aid, globally.

While the graphic acknowledges that the assistance was “in the form of military & humanitarian aid,” it doesn’t explain how Ukraine would funnel the monetary value of the aid to FTX.

Mark Cancian, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told PolitiFact that “most of the (U.S.) aid goes through third parties and not directly to the Ukrainian government.”

He said, “Much of the humanitarian assistance goes to relief organizations. Purchases of military supplies for Ukraine go to the contractor.”

And a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to PolitiFact that direct budget assistance to the Ukrainian government couldn’t be funneled out of the country the way the theory claims.

“The direct budget support that the United States is providing to the Government of Ukraine is transmitted via a World Bank mechanism to Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance,” the statement said. “There are agreements and monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure that U.S. funds are used for verified GOU expenses; the types of expenses for which U.S. funds can be used are specifically enumerated in those agreements.”

That’s the biggest problem with this theory — there’s nothing to suggest that large sums of money moved from Ukraine to FTX. Ukraine hadn’t “invested” with FTX, as Watters claimed, and the country didn’t give U.S. aid money to the company or its former CEO, as the image claims.

Rather, Ukraine had created a website to accept donations in cryptocurrency that would benefit its war effort, and it used three companies to route the donations and turn them into usable assets — Everstake, Kuna and FTX.

So, FTX was helping make crypto donations available to Ukraine; it wasn’t taking any assets from Ukraine. This was actually explained in the article from March that Watters flashed on screen to show viewers that there was a connection between FTX and Ukraine, but he wrongly claimed that the country had “invested” in the company rather than explaining what the article actually said.

Similarly, the article that the Gateway Pundit cited as evidence to support the claim that “The Democrats sent tens of billions to Ukraine and then laundered this money back to Democrat pockets and funds in the US” said nothing of the sort. It, too, explained that FTX had agreed to help route charitable contributions for Ukraine.

Alex Bornyakov, deputy minister of digital transformation of Ukraine on IT industry development, responded to the claim on Twitter, saying, “A fundraising crypto foundation @_AidForUkraine used @FTX_Official to convert crypto donations into fiat in March. Ukraine’s gov never invested any funds into FTX. The whole narrative that Ukraine allegedly invested in FTX, who donated money to Democrats is nonsense, frankly.”

So, there’s no evidence to support the claim that Ukraine invested in or gave money to FTX.

Conspiracy theories often exploit a grain of truth — in this case, that comes in the third part of the graphic. Bankman-Fried donated nearly $40 million to political candidates and committees in the midterm election cycle. The vast majority of those donations benefited Democrats.

It’s unclear where, exactly, Bankman-Fried’s money came from, but the bankruptcy process and potential criminal investigations are likely to untangle the finances.

But, importantly, there’s no evidence to suggest that any of that money came from U.S. aid that had been laundered through Ukraine.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

FTX US. Voluntary Petition for Non-Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy. U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. 11 Nov 2022.

Piper, Kelsey. “Sam Bankman-Fried tries to explain himself.” Vox 16 Nov 2022.

Council on Foreign Relations. Global Conflict Tracker. Conflict in Ukraine. Updated 8 Nov 2022.

Congressional Research Service. U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine. Updated 21 Oct 2022.

U.S. Department of Defense. Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine. 4 Nov 2022.

Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Ukraine Support Tracker — A Database of Military, Financial and Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine. Updated 11 Oct 2022.

Cercone, Jeff. “U.S. tax dollars sent to help Ukraine were laundered back by cryptocurrency firm FTX to help Democrats in midterms.” PolitiFact. 15 Nov 2022.

Nelson, Danny. “Ukraine Partners With FTX, Everstake to Launch New Crypto Donation Website.” CoinDesk.com. 14 Mar 2022.

Kumar, Ashish. “FTX CEO Joins Forces In Supporting Ukraine To Raise Crypto Donations.” CoinGape.come. Updated 9 Mar 2022.

Bornyakov, Alex (@abornyakov). “A fundraising crypto foundation @_AidForUkraine used @FTX_Official to convert crypto donations into fiat in March. Ukraine’s gov never invested any funds into FTX. The whole narrative that Ukraine allegedly invested in FTX, who donated money to Democrats is nonsense, frankly.” Twitter. 14 Nov 2022.

Primack, Dan and Alexi McCammond. “Bankman-Fried spent millions on Dem campaigns.” Axios. 15 Nov 2022.

Palma, Stefania, Courtney Weaver, and Caitlin Gilbert. “Sam Bankman-Fried’s fall cuts off big source of funds for US Democrats.” Financial Times. 13 Nov 2022.

Prentice, Chris. “U.S. authorities probe FTX collapse, executives’ involvement -sources.” Reuters. 14 Nov 2022.



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Posts Misrepresent How Florida Arrived at Quick Election Results – FactCheck.org


Quick Take

Florida law allows election officials to start counting early in-person and mail-in ballots before Election Day. But social media posts falsely claim Florida counted all of its more than 7 million votes in five hours on Election Day and states that took longer committed “voter fraud.” Most states don’t allow vote counting to begin until Election Day or after polls close.


Full Story

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8, media outlets such as the Associated Press called the Florida gubernatorial race, projecting that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had defeated his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist. 

The early announcement in Florida was possible because of the state’s election laws, which allow officials to start processing and counting all early votes and mail-in ballots as they are received before Election Day.

But a video on Instagram makes the false claim that Florida counted all of its votes on Election Day, and falsely claims that states that didn’t complete vote tabulation as quickly were committing “voter fraud.”   

“Florida counted 7.5 million votes in five hours,” conservative commentator Kendall Bailey says in the video. “Other states are saying it might take till the end of the year to count 2 million votes. You’re fired! It’s voter fraud.”   

Bailey also falsely claims it’s “illegal” for states to take that long to count votes, repeating similar claims about the timeliness of counting votes

The video received over 134,000 views and nearly 16,000 likes. Several other social media posts make similar claims comparing Florida’s vote count with other states. 

But, as we said earlier, election officials in Florida didn’t count all the ballots in one day, let alone in five hours. 

Florida law allows the counting of all early votes and mail-in ballots — which made up the majority of the state’s votes in 2022 — to begin upon arrival at their precincts before Election Day.

Releasing the election results before the polls close is a felony.

Other states have laws that delay vote counting until Election Day or after the polls close, as we’ve written before.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 23 states that begin counting votes on Election Day before polls close, and 16 states that don’t begin counting ballots until after polls have closed.

Florida is one of 10 states, including Arizona, that begin counting mail ballots dropped off before Election Day. But, as we wrote, Arizona’s election workers received more than twice as many ballots on Election Day as they had in the previous four days combined. They weren’t able to start processing those ballots until after polls had closed.

Florida, however, ends early in-person voting three days before the election and doesn’t allow mail-in ballots to be dropped off at voting precincts on Election Day — though voters can take ballots to their local elections office. Election workers in Florida had three days before Nov. 8 to process and count ballots without the addition of any new in-person early ballots.  

In 19 states, mailed-in ballots that arrive after Election Day will still be counted if they are postmarked on time.

Counting Ballots in Florida

This year there were 5,058,834 early voters in Florida, with the majority being mail-in ballots, according to the U.S. Elections Project. On Election Day, there were 2,725,864 in-person votes cast, according to Florida’s Division of Elections. This would bring the total count to 7,784,698 votes in Florida for the election.

We asked officials how many ballots were counted before Election Day, but we didn’t get a response.

Early voting in Florida for the 2022 election was held from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5. The deadline for voter registration was Oct. 11.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day in Florida. Mail-in ballots must be returned no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day to the Supervisor of Elections Office in order to be counted. Overseas voters have a 10-day extension for general elections.

The counting of early votes and mail-in ballots can begin in Florida after the public testing of automatic tabulating equipment — which happens no more than 25 days before early voting starts. This means by the time ballots arrive at precincts, they can be processed and counted. 

The results of all early voting and mail-in ballots that have been counted by the end of the early voting period are uploaded into the county’s election management system by 7 p.m. on the day before the election, according to state law. The results can’t be made public until after the polls close on Election Day. 

Florida law requires that all counted early and mail votes must be reported within 30 minutes of polls closing, and Election Day votes are reported within hours.

County election supervisors are required by law to post the number of mail-in ballots that have been received and the number of mail-in ballots that remain uncounted starting at 7 p.m. on Election Day and to update the count at least once every hour while counting the ballots. 


Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

Elder, Elise. “DeSantis wins 2022 Florida governor’s race by largest margin in 40 years.” WUFT.org. 8 Nov 2022.

The 2022 Florida Statutes. “ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS – VOTING METHODS AND PROCEDURE.” Leg.state.fl.us. Accessed 16 Nov 2022. 

The 2022 Florida Statutes. “ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS – CONDUCTING ELECTIONS AND ASCERTAINING THE RESULTS.” Leg.state.fl.us. Accessed 16 Nov 2022. 

Florida 2022 Early Vote.” RPubs. Updated 8 Nov 2022. 

Izaguirre, Anthony. “Ron DeSantis wins governor’s race in Florida.” Associated Press. 8 Nov 2022.

Spencer, Saranac Hale. “Ballot Processing Continues in Closely Watched States Amid Unfounded Claims of Fraud.” FactCheck.org. 11 Nov 2022.

Spencer, Saranac Hale. “Counting Mail-In Ballots Delays Results, But Doesn’t Denote Fraud.” FactCheck.org. 7 Nov 2022.

National Conference of State Legislatures. “Table 16: When Absentee/Mail Ballot Processing and Counting Can Begin.” NCSL.org. Updated 17 May 2022. 

Florida Divisions of Elections. “Vote-by-Mail Request & Early Voting Statistics.” Accessed 16 Nov 2022. 





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Mumbai Theatre Owner to Cut Down Ticket Prices at Maratha Mandir & Gaiety Galaxy


Elaborating on his decision, he shared that the prices of Maratha Mandir and Gaeity Galaxy will be reduced from ₹140 and ₹170 to ₹130 and ₹150 respectively from 21 November.

In continuation to the report, Desai told Hindustan Times, “Multiplexes are for rich people, who want to spend thousands on tickets and food. Jis public ko paise ki padi nahi hai, wo waha jaakar enjoy karle. But, middle-class family mein, jahan 4-5 log ho, toh unka toh poora salary chala jayega ek hi film dekhne mein. (Those who don’t care about the money, can enjoy there. But, a middle-class family of four-five people, will have to spend their entire salary to just watch one film).”

“I want Gaiety Galaxy and Maratha Mandir to be the places where people continue to come for experience. And if I am getting advantage of 40 per cent people from the outside, so to have them come to theatres, if I’ve to cut the ticket price, I’ll happily do that. It’s better than having vacant seats in the cinema hall,” he further told the publication.

Talking about the poor performance of the latest Bollywood releases, he told Hindustan Times, “Movies of (late filmmakers) Manmohan Desai, Yash Chopra would run for weeks. Abhi Bollywood ko kya ho gaya hai? (What has happened to Bollywood now?) Why can’t they make a proper story? Where are the good directors, artists, writers? What’s happening?”

He further told the publication that South films like Kantara, KGF, and Pushpa performed way better than the Bollywood films; among which, Kantara had a 100 percent occupancy rate.



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FactChecking Trump’s Presidential Bid Announcement – FactCheck.org


Summary

Here we go again. Donald Trump’s official bid to get back to the White House had us at FactCheck.org feeling a bit of déjà vu. His Nov. 15 speech announcing his candidacy for 2024 featured assertions we’ve fact-checked before and several mainstays of his rallies leading up to the midterm elections.

  • Claiming a double-standard with regard to the search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump wrongly said former President Barack Obama “took a lot of things with him” when he left office. The National Archives and Records Administration says it always controlled and managed Obama administration records after his tenure.
  • Trump claimed that “Joe Biden has intentionally surrendered our energy independence,” but the U.S. was never 100% self-sufficient or not reliant on energy imports under Trump.
  • Comparing gasoline prices during his administration to Biden’s, Trump cherry-picked the pandemic low during his administration and greatly exaggerated current prices. And in any case, experts say neither president was primarily responsible for the prices.
  • Trump also falsely claimed to have “filled up” the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which he said Biden has “virtually drained.” Neither is true.
  • The former president wrongly said the southwest border was the “strongest ever” during his term and now is “open.” Apprehensions, a proxy for illegal immigration, were higher during Trump’s term than either of Obama’s terms. While they’ve increased considerably under President Joe Biden, well over 1 million, at least, have been expelled.
  • Trump came up short of building the border wall he promised, despite his claim that he “completed” it.
  • Trump downplayed the risk of climate change, incorrectly stating that sea level rise will be just “one-eighth of an inch over the next 200 to 300 years.” For U.S. coastlines, scientists project an increase of 10 to 12 inches in the next 30 years alone.
  • He claimed that “drugs were coming into our country at the lowest level in many, many years” during his presidency. But the best available federal data suggest that overall drug smuggling may have been higher under Trump than Biden.
  • He repeated his false talking point that his administration “built the greatest economy in the history of the world.” Annual real gross domestic product has exceeded Trump’s peak year 16 times.
  • He claimed the U.S. “surrendered $85 billion” of military equipment when it withdrew troops from Afghanistan, a withdrawal that was initiated by his administration. That gross exaggeration is nearly the total amount spent on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund since the war began in 2001.
  • While talking about tariffs, Trump falsely claimed that “no president had ever sought or received $1 for our country from China until I came along.” Prior to his administration, the U.S. collected billions of dollars in tariffs on products imported from China.
  • Trump falsely claimed the Department of Justice is going after parents “who object” at school board meetings to “indoctrinating our children.” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said “spirited debate” is constitutionally protected but not “threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.”

Analysis

Mar-a-Lago Search

Referencing the court-approved Aug. 8 search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in which FBI agents took possession of numerous records labeled “classified” and “Top Secret,” Trump said federal authorities were out to “get Trump” in ways they never were with his predecessors.

“And I said, ‘Why didn’t you raid Bush’s place?’” Trump said. “Why didn’t you raid Clinton’s place? Why didn’t you do Obama, who took a lot of things with him.”

We’re not sure to which Bush Trump was referring, George H.W. Bush or his son George W. Bush, but as we’ve written, neither of them stored presidential documents in their private residences after they left office. Neither did former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Trump has made similar claims before, and all of the examples he has cited were cases of the National Archives and Records Administration — not the former presidents themselves — storing documents in secure facilities while permanent presidential libraries were being built.

With regard to Obama, specifically, NARA released a statement on Sept. 23, contradicting Trump’s repeated misstatements. NARA said it always controlled and managed the records from the Obama administration.

Energy Independence

The U.S. never stopped importing oil and other forms of energy from other countries when Trump was president. But he frequently claims that the U.S. became “energy independent” during his administration, which may give some people the false impression that the U.S. was 100% self-sufficient.

In his announcement speech, Trump claimed that “Joe Biden has intentionally surrendered our energy independence.”

Similarly, at his Florida rally, Trump said: “We are no longer energy independent or energy dominant, as we were just two short years ago. We are a nation that is begging Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and many other countries for oil.”

In 2019, during Trump’s presidency, the U.S. began producing more energy than it consumed for the first time since 1957, according to the Energy Information Administration. The EIA also said the U.S. became a net total energy exporter in 2019 for the first time since 1952.

Then, in 2020, the U.S. became a total petroleum net exporter for the first time since 1949, the EIA said. Petroleum includes crude oil and refined products from crude oil, such as gasoline and other fuels.

None of those achievements means that the U.S. did not rely on foreign sources of energy. To some energy analysts, a scenario in which the U.S. consumes only the energy that it produces is not likely to happen anytime soon.

As Andrew Campbell, executive director of the Energy Institute at Haas, told Reuters Fact Check: “If a country produces all of the energy that it consumes, does not participate in international trade in energy, does not import energy-intensive products, and does not send energy-related pollution to its neighbors or the atmosphere, then I would consider it energy independent. I don’t think any country meets that definition.”

Even if “energy independence” was determined by being a net exporter or having more production than consumption, the country’s status has not changed under Biden. The U.S. had more exports than imports of total primary energy and petroleum in 2021, and is on pace to do the same in 2022. Also, since Biden took office, U.S. energy production has continued to exceed its energy consumption.

On the other hand, the U.S. has consistently been a net importer of crude oil since the 1940s. But, so far, total crude oil imports, as well as net imports of crude oil, have been lower under Biden than they were under Trump — except in 2020, when imports dropped significantly due to reduced demand at the start of the pandemic.

Gasoline Prices

Contrasting his administration with Biden’s, Trump often cites gasoline prices, which spiked to just over $5 per gallon in mid-June. During his announcement speech, Trump cherry-picked and exaggerated both sides of that comparison, and regardless, experts say neither president’s policies are primarily responsible for the gasoline prices during their tenures.

“We were $1.87 a gallon for gasoline,” Trump said, “and now it’s hitting 5, 6, 7 and even $8 and it’s going to go really bad.”

Gasoline prices did dip to $1.87 in May 2020 when Trump was president, but that was during the pandemic when gasoline usage plummeted. Prices were the lowest in Trump’s presidency that month and the month before. Prices rose to $2.33 per gallon in January 2021, when Trump left office. That’s almost exactly the price of gasoline when Trump took office in January 2017, $2.35.

Trump is also exaggerating the price of gas now. Since the $5 per gallon high in June, the average price has dropped fairly steadily, and was at $3.80 the first week of November. (Trump claimed gas prices had reached their “highest levels in history,” but while the $5 per gallon peak is the highest in raw dollars, the price has been higher in inflation-adjusted dollars.)

In recent speeches, Trump has tied the $8 price to “parts of California.” But even that’s exaggerated. While it’s possible there were some gas stations in California where gas was selling for $8 a gallon when Trump made his statements, the average price of gas in the state — which is typically higher than any other state — was $5.46, according to AAA. And no county in California had an average price anywhere near $8 per gallon. So it is a classic case of cherry-picking. (We should note that Biden cherry-picks as well, like in September when he noted that regular gasoline in “some states” was under $3 per gallon, even though the national average that week was $3.71.)

More importantly, as we have written several times this year, U.S. presidents have little control over the price that consumers pay for gasoline.

The price of crude oil, which is refined into gasoline, is set on a global market. The low price of gasoline that Trump cited was the result of economic activity declining sharply in the U.S. and other countries early in the COVID-19 pandemic. It led to a decline in global demand for crude oil, which in turn led to a drop in the price of gasoline. It also resulted in oil companies spending and investing less. Then, as the global economy began to recover, and people began to resume their regular activities, including travel, global demand for crude oil increased rapidly while the global supply was not able to keep pace — and so gasoline prices rose.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February also has contributed to higher gasoline prices, experts told us. In response to the attack, the U.S. and other nations put sanctions and bans on oil from Russia, one of the world’s largest oil exporters.While Republicans have blamed U.S. oil production, and Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, experts told us those are not the reason for higher gasoline prices this year. U.S. oil production under Biden has increased a bit over 2020 production, and in its Short-Term Energy Outlook for October, the Energy Information Administration projected that crude oil production would average 11.7 million barrels per day in 2022, which would be more than every year but 2019.

During his announcement, Trump also falsely claimed to have “filled up” the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which he said Biden has “virtually drained in order to keep gasoline prices lower just prior to the election.”

When Trump left office, the nation’s emergency reserve held about 8% less crude oil than when Trump became president. Trump’s proposal to refill the reserve in March 2020 was blocked by Democrats.

Since October 2021, Biden has authorized the release of more than 200 million barrels of SPR oil in an attempt to increase the global supply of crude oil and bring down gasoline prices. Experts told us it’s hard to say how much the oil releases helped reduce prices.

As of Nov. 4, the SPR held roughly 396.2 million barrels of crude oil, which is about 55% of its authorized storage capacity. SPR oil stocks have decreased about 38% under Biden.

Illegal Immigration

The number of apprehensions of those trying to cross the U.S. southwest border has increased dramatically under Biden, but, again, Trump has made false and exaggerated claims in trying to draw a contrast between his term and now.

Echoing a claim he has made before, Trump falsely said the southwest border “was by far the strongest ever” during his administration. He also made the claim during midterm election rallies, such as a Nov. 7 event in Ohio in which he said the border was “the best ever,” adding, “There was nothing even close.”

Politicians and researchers use the number of apprehensions at the border as a measure of what’s happening with illegal immigration, and by that measure, the border wasn’t the “strongest” under Trump. In fact, the number of apprehensions was higher during Trump’s term than either of Obama’s four-year terms.

As we’ve written before, the number of apprehensions fluctuated wildly under Trump, dropping in 2017 but then rising the next two years. While apprehensions decreased in early 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, they picked up again the last half of that year and ended up being 14.7% higher in Trump’s final year in office compared with the last full year before he was sworn in.

Trump then claimed that under Biden, “our southern border has been erased and our country is being invaded by millions and millions of unknown people.” As he has said in his rallies, he also claimed the border was “open.” It’s not.

For one, the data we have on illegal immigration are figures on people U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehend. Also, of the 2.2 million apprehended in fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, nearly half — 1 million — were expelled under Title 42, a public health law invoked during the pandemic that allows border officials to immediately return Mexican migrants caught trying to enter the country illegally. Biden has tried to end Title 42 , but a federal judge blocked the administration from terminating it.

Recidivism rates have also soared under Title 42, as more than a quarter of people caught at the border were already apprehended at least once before and returned to Mexico in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, according to Customs and Border Protection statistics.

“Millions” have been apprehended under Biden. In the most recent 12 months on record, apprehensions totaled 2,251,596, a 343% increase compared with Trump’s last year in office.

At one point in his announcement, Trump made the unfounded claim that “I believe it’s 10 million people coming in” through illegal immigration at the southern border. Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told us the figure is “inaccurate and impossible,” based on the institute’s analysis of official CBP data.

“These data suggest that the true number of unauthorized migrants entering (even if temporarily) the United States is a fraction of the claimed 10 million figure,” Ruiz Soto said.

Not counting those expelled under Title 42, there have been 2.1 million apprehensions since January 2021 under what’s called Title 8, he said. These are apprehension events, so the number of unique people would be lower. But of the 2.1 million, “a significant number were allowed into the country to pursue asylum claims in immigration court or because they could not be deported to countries with limited U.S. relations (e.g., Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba). But others, primarily from Mexico and Central America, were quickly removed through a process called expedited removal or had prior removal orders reactivated,” Ruiz Soto said.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security estimates in fiscal year 2021, which would include nearly four months of Trump’s tenure, there were 389,000 so-called “gotaways,” which are migrants U.S. Border Patrol detected but could not apprehend. Ruiz Soto said DHS hasn’t released estimates for fiscal year 2022, but “some unconfirmed news reports suggest there were 599,000 ‘gotaways’ in FY 2022 and up to 64,000 in October 2022.”

So, even if we add together “all these estimated ‘gotaways’ and unrealistically assuming that all of the 2.1 million migrant apprehensions under Title 8 were allowed into the country, the number would be a maximum of 3.2 million migrant entries since January 2021—which is well short of the claimed 10 million entries,” Ruiz Soto said.

Trump’s Wall Not Finished

Trump came up short of building the border wall he promised on the campaign trail in 2016, or what his administration initially proposed. But he has continued to falsely claim otherwise.

“We built the wall. We completed the wall and then we said, ‘Let’s do more,’ and we did a lot more,” Trump said in his announcement. “And as we were doing it we had an election that came up, and when they came in, they had three more weeks to complete the additions to the wall, which would have been great and they said no, no, we’re not going to do that.”

Similarly, he told the crowds at rallies in Pennsylvania and Florida that “we completely finished our original border wall plan.”

That’s wrong. As we’ve reported, when he was a candidate, Trump repeatedly talked about wanting 1,000 miles of a border wall. Once in office, he started moving the goal posts. The administration never released a master plan for the project. In early 2018, CNN obtained Customs and Border Protection documents asking for $18 billion over 10 years to build 722 miles of border wall, including “about 316 new miles of primary structure and about 407 miles of replacement and secondary wall.”

In the end, 458 miles of “border wall system” was built during Trump’s term, according to a CBP status report on Jan. 22, 2021. There were 52 miles of new primary wall and 33 miles of secondary wall where no barriers had been before. The rest, 373 miles, was replacement barriers for primary or secondary fencing that was dilapidated or outdated.

That’s a lot of construction. But the new fencing covers about 20% of the 1,954-mile land border. Including the fencing that existed before Trump took office, there are now about 706 miles of barriers.

False Climate Change Claim

Trump downplayed the threat of climate change when he attempted to argue that people, presumably Democrats, were ignoring the risk of nuclear weapons to focus solely on climate change.

“The Green New Deal and the environment, which they say may affect us in 300 years … is all that is talked about, yet nuclear weapons which would destroy the world immediately are never even discussed as a major threat,” he said. “They say the ocean will rise one-eighth of an inch over the next 200 to 300 years.”

Projections for future sea level rise are well above that figure, which Trump has previously used. Rather than increasing one-eighth of an inch over centuries, global sea level is already rising that much per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Roads, bridges, subways, water supplies, oil and gas wells, power plants, sewage treatment plants, landfills—virtually all human infrastructure—is at risk from sea level rise,” NOAA says on its website.

That’s the global average, the agency says, so sea level rise may be higher or lower in specific places — and for much of the U.S., it’s projected to be worse.

In the next 30 years alone, sea level along the U.S. coast is projected to rise 10 to 12 inches, according to the U.S. government’s 2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report.

“Sea level rise will create a profound shift in coastal flooding over the next 30 years by causing tide and storm surge heights to increase and reach further inland,” a website for the report explains. “By 2050, ‘moderate’ (typically damaging) flooding is expected to occur, on average, more than 10 times as often as it does today, and can be intensified by local factors.”

By 2100, scientists project between nearly 2 feet to more than 7 feet of sea level rise and between 2.6 feet and 12.8 feet by 2150 in the U.S. relative to the level in 2000.

“Failing to curb future emissions could cause an additional 1.5 – 5 feet (0.5 – 1.5 meters) of rise for a total of 3.5 – 7 feet (1.1 – 2.1 meters) by the end of this century,” the website notes.

Trump is also wrong to suggest that the environment or Americans have yet to be affected by climate change. Not only has the sea level already risen, but temperatures are higher and weather patterns have changed, which has impacted human health as well as plants and animals.

Drugs

In his speech from Mar-a-Lago, Trump claimed that “because the border was so tight” during his administration, “drugs were coming into our country at the lowest level in many, many years.” He later said that, under Biden, “hundreds of thousands of pounds of deadly drugs, including very lethal fentanyl, are flooding across the now open and totally porous southern border.”

He made a similar claim in Ohio, saying: “The drugs were down the lowest they were in 32 years. And now the drugs are seven times to 10 times higher than when we had it only two years ago. Think of it, the drugs are pouring in.”

We don’t know the source of Trump’s statistics, as comprehensive data on the total quantity of illicit drugs smuggled into the U.S. do not exist. The best data available is for the amount of drugs seized by federal border officials — most of which comes through legal ports of entry, not via illegal immigration between those ports.

Some use the drug-seizures data as a proxy for how much enters the country undetected. But if that’s what Trump is doing, the figures don’t back up his claims. If more seizures indicates that more drugs — not less — are getting into the U.S., then there was a bigger drug problem under Trump.

The most recent data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that federal authorities interdicted nearly 656,000 pounds of drugs in fiscal year 2022 and more than 913,000 pounds in fiscal 2021, which included three and a half months when Trump was president. Both figures are lower than the 1.06 million pounds seized in fiscal 2020, Trump’s last full fiscal cycle as president. Prior to the pandemic, 901,000 pounds of drugs were seized by border officials in fiscal 2019.

However, seizures of certain drugs, such as fentanyl, have increased under Biden.

Dozens of ads in the midterm elections mentioned fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid many times stronger than morphine and heroin. Illicit fentanyl can be fatal in very small doses and has contributed to an increasing number of overdose deaths in the U.S. – sometimes when people unknowingly consume illegally manufactured drugs that contain fentanyl.

Federal border officials seized approximately 14,700 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal 2022. That was up more than 206% from the almost 4,800 pounds seized in fiscal 2020, which was about 71% more than the amount confiscated in fiscal 2019.

Afghanistan

Trump, whose administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, criticized Biden for the chaotic withdrawal.

“The United States has been embarrassed, humiliated and weakened for all to see,” Trump said. “The disasters in Afghanistan — perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of our country — where we lost lives, left Americans behind and surrendered $85 billion worth of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world.”

The former president is right that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was chaotic, and it cost the lives of 13 U.S. service members who were ambushed outside the Kabul airport. He is also right, as we have written, that some U.S. citizens were left behind when the last U.S. soldier left the country.

But Trump grossly exaggerates when he claims the U.S. left $85 billion worth of military equipment in Afghanistan, and ignores his administration’s role in contributing to what he called the disaster in Afghanistan. On other occasions, Trump has said Biden “surrendered in Afghanistan,” which he said in Florida on Nov. 6 at one of his MAGA rallies in the final days of the midterm elections.

“We are a nation that surrendered in Afghanistan, leaving behind dead soldiers, American citizens and $85 billion worth of the finest military equipment in the world,” Trump said at the Florida rally.

The Trump administration in February 2020 negotiated a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban that excluded the Afghan government, freed 5,000 imprisoned Taliban soldiers and set a date of May 1, 2021, for the final withdrawal. The Trump administration kept to the pact, even though the Taliban did not, and reduced U.S. troop levels from about 13,000 to 2,500, against the advice of U.S. military leaders, before he left office.

During House testimony on Sept. 29, 2021, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley said that based on his advice and “the advice of the commanders at the time,” then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper submitted a memorandum to the White House on Nov. 9, 2020, “recommending that we maintain the US forces, which were then at about 4,500 in Afghanistan, until conditions were met for further reductions.”

The Taliban repeatedly failed to meet conditions required in the withdrawal agreement. It continued to attack Afghan government forces and welcomed al-Qaeda terrorists into the Taliban leadership, even as Trump continued to press for troop reductions.

“In the fall of 2020 my analysis was that an accelerated withdrawal without meeting specific and necessary conditions risks losing the substantial gains made in Afghanistan, damaging U.S. worldwide credibility, and could precipitate a general collapse of the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] and the Afghan government resulting in a complete Taliban takeover or general civil war,” Milley said in Senate testimony on Sept. 28, 2021. “That was a year ago. My assessment remained consistent throughout.”

Nonetheless, the Trump administration reduced troop levels to 2,500 by Jan. 15, 2021.

Biden delayed the May 1, 2021, withdrawal date that he inherited from Trump. But his administration pushed ahead with a plan to withdraw by Aug. 31, 2021 — also against the advice of U.S. military leaders.

Ultimately, the Taliban took advantage of a weakened United States and took control of the country sooner than Biden’s Aug. 31, 2021, withdrawal date. Taliban fighters entered the Afghan capital Kabul on Aug. 15, 2021, as the Afghan president fled the country and the U.S. evacuated diplomats. (For more, see our article “Timeline of U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan.”)

So both administrations bear responsibility for what Trump called the disaster in Afghanistan.

As for the U.S. military equipment left behind, Trump’s $85 billion figure — actually $82.9 billion — was the total amount spent on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund since the war began in 2001. But it wasn’t all for military equipment, and most of the U.S. equipment purchased in those two decades had become inoperable, or had been moved out of the country or “decommisioned” or destroyed.

As we wrote, the biggest chunk of the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, about half, was for what is called “sustainment,” and most of that went for Afghan army and national police salaries.

CNN reported in April that a Department of Defense report said $7.12 billion of military equipment the U.S. had given to the Afghan government was in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal.

“Nearly all equipment used by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan was either retrograded or destroyed prior to our withdrawal and is not part of the ‘$7.12 billion’ figure cited in the report,” a spokesperson for the Defense Department, Army Maj. Rob Lodewick, said, according to CNN.

Not ‘Greatest Economy’ in History

As he did many times when he was in office, Trump repeated the false talking point that his administration “built the greatest economy in the history of the world.”

He cited the stock market at one point in his speech, but economists generally measure a nation’s health by the growth of its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product. And dating back to Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the real GDP exceeded Trump’s peak year of 2.9% 16 times. The GDP also hit 5.9% under Biden in 2021.

China Tariffs

Trump repeated his false claim that no president before him had collected tariffs on Chinese products exported to the U.S.

“China was paying billions and billions of dollars in taxes and tariffs,” Trump said in his Nov. 15 remarks. “No president had ever sought or received $1 for our country from China until I came along.”

As we’ve written before, prior to Trump becoming president, the U.S. collected $122.6 billion in customs duties on Chinese goods from 2007 to 2016, or $12.3 billion a year on average, according to data available though the U.S. International Trade Commission DataWeb.

Furthermore, the tariffs collected are not paid by China, as we’ve also noted before. The tariffs are paid by U.S. importers in the form of customs duties, and to some extent by U.S. consumers in the form of higher prices.

Department of Justice Not Going After Parents Who ‘Object’

Trump revived a false Republican talking point about the Department of Justice going after parents “who object” at school board meetings.

“Joe Biden has also proven that he is committed to indoctrinating our children, even using the Department of Justice against parents who object,” Trump said in his announcement speech.

This is a version of the false claim made by several Republicans that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland labelled parents who complain at school board meetings “domestic terrorists” and that he instructed the Department of Justice to target such parents.

As we wrote back in April, the Justice Department did not label parents “domestic terrorists.” Rather, a Sept. 29, 2021, letter sent by the National School Boards Association to the White House argued that some violent threats against school officials “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism.” The association asked for federal assistance to stop what it said was a growing number of threats and acts of violence against public school board members and other public school district officials — mainly over the issues of mask mandates and “propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula.” (Critical race theory is the study of institutional racism as a means to better understand and address racial inequality. It has become a hot-button political issue among Republicans who oppose it being taught in public schools.)

Garland did not use NSBA’s “terrorism” language, for which the group later apologized. Although Garland directed his agency to review strategies to address violent threats and harassment against school boards, the policy was never targeted at parents who simply “object,” as Trump put it.

In fact, Garland issued a memo on Oct. 4, 2021, stating that “spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution.” He added, however, that “that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.”

“I want to be clear, the Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in the schools,” Garland said two weeks later at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.


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Did Modi halt Ukraine war for evacuating Indians? BJP leaders’ claim was refuted by MEA – Alt News


Recently, several prominent BJP leaders claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had intervened to stop the war between Russia and Ukraine for some hours so that Indian students caught in the conflict could be evacuated and brought back to India.

In an interview with News18 Uttar Pradesh, Union home minister Amit Shah recently said that at the request of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russia and Ukraine agreed on a 72-hour ceasefire to facilitate the evacuation of Indian students. It is a matter of honour for every Indian and a testimony to the growing influence of India across the world, he added. He also made the point that he was following India’s diplomatic ties with other countries for a long time, but this was unprecedented.

Shah also tweeted a clip of the interview.

BJP4India, the official Twitter handle of the BJP, quoted Shah’s statement to the TV channel and repeated the claim.

While electioneering for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, BJP national president JP Nadda, too, had made the same claim. While addressing a gathering at Kotkhai, he said that 32000 youth from India were stranded in Ukaraine in the Russia-Ukraine war. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over phone calls, urged the Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky for a ceasefire and then evacuated the India nationals.

Several prominent people shared the tweeted the statement.

The live stream of the speech is available on BJP’s official YouTube channel. Excerpts from his speech that mention the above statement starts at 20 minutes and 37 seconds of the video.

BJP’s official Twitter handle also tweeted the statement made by JP Nadda.


Likewise, BJPLive, BJP Rajasthan, BJP MP from Darbhanga Gopal Jee Thakur, BJP MLA from Chanpatia assembly constituency of Bihar Umakant Singh, and many others shared Nadda’s statement in their tweets.

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Fact-check

In a special briefing on Operation Ganga on March 3, 2022, ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi categorically denied that Russia or Ukraine had stopped the bombing at the behest of India. The spokesperson said, “We got specific inputs that look.. this is a route that’s available.. these are the places that Indian citizens should go by this time. We conveyed that to our citizens. And I am happy that many could make it…. there were sporadic incidents of violence, but this is a war zone and I can’t comment on the details. We haven’t met them yet…. But I am happy that significant number of people could come out.. Extrapolating that to say that somebody is holding up bombing or this is something we are coordinating, (that) I think that’s absolutely inaccurate.”

This statement by the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs can be seen from 21 minutes 18 seconds in the video below.

After numerous media organisations made the ‘ceasefire’ claim in March 2022, Alt News had published a fact-check report debunking it.

In summary, BJP leaders falsely claimed that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phone calls to the heads of both the States that paused the Russia-Ukraine war facilitating evacuation of Indian nationals. This information has been debunked by the ministry of external affairs itself.

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Delhi murder accused Aftab Poonawalla is a Muslim; contrary claims made on social media are false – Alt News


Soon after the news of the alleged murder of 26-year-old Shraddha Walker in Delhi’s Mehrauli by her partner became viral, the religion of the accused, Aftab Ameen Poonawalla, became a bone of contention on social media. (Some media outlets used slightly different spellings for the name)

A twitter user called ‘the dude’ posted a screenshot of Poonawalla’s Facebook profile and wrote, “Although Poonawala is usually a Parsi surname and the accused claims himself to be humanist, such a heinous crime against a woman should not go unpunished. Regardless of his beliefs he should be given harshest possible punishment. At the same time, we need to call out ++” (Archive)

Another user with the name ‘RVAIDYA2000’ wrote, “Youngistan me confuzed as usual: This Aftab Poonawala is a Shia or Bhora or Parsi or ?? Many media differ+ there are many other poonawalas floating around–all one set:))))) RT”. (Archive)

Replying to a tweet by user Anshul Saxena, user ‘MaynZalik’ simply wrote “Aftab Parsi Poonawala Not muslim”. (Archive)

Another Twitter user, ‘Yedz’, quote-tweeted NDTV’s report of the incident and claimed in his tweet that the accused was a Parsi and not a Muslim. (Archive)

Some also claimed that the accused was a Hindu.



Some others claimed he was a ‘Sindhi’.


Fact-Check

While looking into the matter, Alt News checked Poonawalla’s Instagram profile, and found that replying to a comment to one of his posts, he had written, “I am a Muslim, and the other tern you’re is Hindu. Lord Krishna is the God of Hindus. May I ask why the certain inquisitiveness about my religion?”


Alt News also accessed the FIR copy of the incident and found that according to the victim’s father, Poonawalla was a Muslim. The relevant part of the police complaint can be translated as “My daughter had told my wife in 2019 that she was in a live-in relationship with Aftab Amin Poonawala. Me and my wife did not agree to this because the guy was a Muslim and inter-caste/inter-religion marriage was not accepted in our social circle…”


Based on Poonawalla’s own admission on his Instagram page and the FIR copy, we can confirm that he is a Muslim by religion. Contrary claims made on social media, that he is a Parsi or a Hindu, are not true.

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Fact-check: Is viral video actual footage of a ‘hatman’ killing woman in Mumbai? – Alt News


A 1:34-minute-long CCTV camera clip is being widely circulated on social media in which viewers can see a woman getting down from a car outside a residential complex and as the car goes away, a man in a black hat grabs her from behind and stabs her to death. He then drags her body away behind the parked cars. The clip is being shared with the claim that it is an incident from Mumbai’s Andheri, and has been given the title “#HatmanKillerInMumbai”.

User @sandeepkishore_ shared the clip on Twitter with a caption in Hindi that can be translated as, “A very horrific incident came to light in a leaked CCTV footage from a locality in Andheri where a man in a black hat was seen brutally killing a woman. He is being referred to as #HatmanKillerInMumbai. Be alert everyone.” He later deleted the tweet.



Hussain Sultania, who according to his Twitter bio is the national secretary of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), also shared the clip on Twitter with a similar caption.

News18 journalist Ankit Kumar has also shared the clip on Twitter with the #HatmanKillerInMumbai.

Others who have shared the clip include Zafar Saifi, Wasim Akram Tyagi, Jibraan Uddin, and Mohammad Altaf Ali.

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IndiaTV also reported about the viral clip without any additional information other than what is available from the tweets.


Fact-check

We noticed that the CCTV footage shows the date “5-11-22” i.e., the clip is at least a week-old, but we could not find any reliable news reports of such a a crime taking place in Mumbai. This showed the possibility that the date in the footage could be wrong. Then we found that speaking to the media, Mumbai Police had clarified that no such killing had taken took place in the city. This statement was also reported by Aaj Tak.


Translated ABP Majha news report

While analyzing the video we noticed a couple of things that seemed unusual:

  1. When the person playing the video is asked to zoom into the ‘killer’, it takes him just a fraction of a second to do that. And the zoomed footage does not appear to be pixelated at all. It retains the same quality.
  2. 2. At 0:45-seconds, the computer operator is asked to play the dashcam footage of a car. Again, this footage is played within a fraction of a second.

Alt News also noticed the word ‘Maarrich’ [a demon in the Hindu epic Ramayana] written in the viral footage in the first few seconds.


Taking this clue, we performed a keyword search on Twitter and came across a tweet by one Dewang Trivedi according to whom, the viral clip is a promotional tactic for an upcoming film Maarrich.


Maarrich is an upcoming film by Actor/Producer Tusshar Kapoor, the promo of which was shared by Kapoor on Twitter on September 13. According to India Today, Kapoor would be playing the role of a cop in the film. The spelling of the word ‘Maarrich’ and the bits and pieces of information available in the public domain all point towards the fact that the viral clip is possibly a promotional tactic for this film.

Alt News has reached out to NH Studioz via mail for comments regarding the viral clip. A message request has also been sent to Tusshar Kapoor’s social media manager regarding the same. The story will be updated if we receive a response.

Alt News reached out to one of the individuals who shared the clip and later deleted it. They said on the condition of anonymity that they had posted it as part of a paid promotion. Though they could not ascertain whether it was for the film ‘Maarrich’.

To summarize, in all probability, a viral CCTV footage in which a man in a black hat can be seen brutally attacking a woman is linked to the upcoming film ‘Maarrich’. The Mumbai Police has clarified that no such killing took place in the city.

Alt News has in the past debunked several such scripted CCTV videos. Related reports can be found here.

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Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people contribute towards the same. Please consider donating in support of this endeavour to fight misinformation and disinformation.

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Ballot Processing Continues in Closely Watched States Amid Unfounded Claims of Fraud



Quick Take

Close Senate races are underway in some states that have different laws regarding ballot deadlines and tabulation. But some high-profile Republicans — including former President Donald Trump — have suggested, without any evidence, that “they” are trying to “cheat.” Officials in those states say they are simply trying to count every legitimate vote.


Full Story

Tight races in Arizona and Nevada could determine which party controls the Senate, so national attention has focused on the vote counts in those states.

Amid the uncertainty of the outcomes, high-profile Republicans have begun casting doubt on the integrity of those elections.

Former President Donald Trump, who has been posting frequently on his platform, Truth Social, wrote in part, “Clark County, Nevada, has a corrupt voting system… Arizona even said ‘by the end of the week!’ – They want more time to cheat!”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, referring to the vote count in Arizona and Nevada, said on Twitter, “This chaos is an intentional decision by Dems.”

And, similarly, Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor in Arizona, has accused election officials of “slow rolling the results.”

Responding to Lake’s claim, Arizona Assistant Secretary of State Allie Bones said on CNN, “It’s ironic to us that people who are calling, you know, into question the integrity of this election and want faster results don’t understand that it’s actually those processes that add the integrity to our election process.”

Other, similar claims on social media compared Arizona and Nevada with Florida, which has completed most of its vote tabulation.

All three states allow ballot processing and tabulation to begin before Election Day — they are among a minority of states that allow this, as we’ve explained before — and both Arizona and Florida require mail ballots to be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Nevada accepts mail ballots for four days after that, as long as the ballots have been postmarked by Election Day.

So, while there are some broad similarities in the states’ election laws, there are some key differences. We’ll explain the situation in each state.

Arizona

The focus in Arizona has been on Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and accounts for about half the votes in the state.

As of 6 p.m. on Nov. 11, Maricopa had tabulated about 77% of its more than 1.2 million ballots, and the Democratic candidates for governor and Senate hold slim leads. Sen. Mark Kelly leads Republican challenger Blake Masters by about 115,000, while Katie Hobbs is ahead of Lake by nearly 27,000 votes.

Initially, Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which oversees Election Day operations and vote tabulation, had anticipated that 95 to 99% of the ballots would be counted by then.

But he explained at a press conference on Nov. 10 that his estimate had changed because of “wonderful news — the great participation we had on Election Day.”

Arizona law allows for mail ballots to be dropped off at voting locations up to the close of polls on Election Day. This year, voters dropped off more than 290,000 mail ballots on Election Day in Maricopa County.

“That broke the previous record by 70%,” Gates said.

The previous record had been set in the 2020 election, when 172,000 voters had submitted their ballots to polling locations on Election Day, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, whose office oversees early voting, explained at the same press conference.

It’s worth noting that both officials in charge of elections in the county — Gates and Richer — are Republicans.

On the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Election Day, officials received about 86,000 ballots, Richer said. On Monday, they received about 52,000. All of those ballots were processed, signature verified, and delivered to the board of supervisors for tabulation.

Then, as we said, on Tuesday officials received about 292,000 ballots.

So, election workers had received more than twice as many ballots in one day as they had received in the previous four days combined, and they couldn’t start the process of checking signatures and taking the ballots out of their envelopes until the polls had closed.

“We can’t begin this process any earlier because those ballots are dropped off at the voting location, they’re sealed in their envelopes, we pick them up at the end of the night after all voters have left all the polls,” Richer said. “We spent the night organizing them and then getting them ready for that scanning process.”

That contrasts with the law in Florida, which ends early voting on the third day before the election and doesn’t allow for ballot drop-off on Election Day. So, election workers there had three days before Election Day to process and tabulate ballots without new ones coming in.

Also, Florida didn’t have a close election this year.

Republican incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis won his seat with 59% of the vote and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio won reelection with 58% of the vote.

“Those other states like Florida? Those races were blow-outs,” Gates said. “Nobody’s paying attention anymore.”

That hasn’t always been the case, though. When DeSantis first sought the governor’s office in 2018, the races for governor and U.S. Senate were so close that the outcomes weren’t clear for days afterward and, predictably, there were allegations of fraud along the way.

Nevada

Similar to the case in Arizona, most attention in Nevada has focused on the most populous county in Nevada, which includes Las Vegas — Clark County.

That county’s registrar of voters, Joe Gloria, responded directly to the claim in Trump’s social media post. At a press conference on Nov. 10, Gloria said, “Obviously he’s misinformed — two years later — about the law and our election processes, which ensure the integrity of elections in Clark County and the state. We couldn’t go any faster now even if we wanted to.”

The county posted a written response on Twitter.

At the press conference, Gloria emphasized that the timing for counting ballots is determined largely by state law.

“It’s the elephant in the room that I keep trying to communicate — there are statutory deadlines here that prevent me from finishing any earlier than the general public or you, the media, would like to see us work,” he said.

State law required election officials to accept mail ballots through the fourth day after Election Day — Saturday — as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. So Clark County is still accepting mail ballots.

That’s the most significant factor when comparing ballot tabulation in Nevada with a state such as Florida.

Additionally, voters who had been notified that their signatures on their ballots didn’t match the ones on file with the state have through Monday to fix the problem and have their ballots counted.

“And then, finally,” Gloria said, “we have provisional ballots that we cannot process until we’ve sent all of the information up to the secretary of state, who then compiles a report with all 17 counties so that we can identify any duplicates or somebody who has illegally voted in more than one county, which is something that we certainly want to prevent to uphold the integrity of our process.”

It’s also worth noting that expanded access to voting by mail is new in Nevada. The state adopted a permanent vote-by-mail system in 2021.

“We want to make sure we’re being accurate in validating the signatures and the identity of these folks,” Gloria said at the press conference. “That’s a lot of work that’s involved in reviewing — It’s a lot of work to go through in reviewing those signatures. So we’re moving at a pace that I think is a good pace for the amount of equipment and staff that we have on board.”

So, none of the claims suggesting that there’s fraud in Arizona or Nevada has included any evidence. And all the evidence points to the fact that election officials in states with closely watched races are following the law of their respective states and counting all valid ballots.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

Reid, Tim and Richard Cowan. “A nation waits: U.S. election workers toil to count thousands of votes.” Reuters. 11 Nov 2022.

National Conference of State Legislatures. Table 16: When Absentee/Mail Ballot Processing and Counting Can Begin. 17 May 2022.

Hale Spencer, Saranac. “Counting Mail-In Ballots Delays Results, But Doesn’t Denote Fraud.” FactCheck.org. 7 Nov 2022.

National Conference of State Legislatures. Table 11: Receipt and Postmark Deadlines for Absentee/Mail Ballots. 12 Jul 2022.

Arizona Secretary of State. 2022 General Election Ballot Progress. Accessed 11 Nov 2022.

Maricopa County. Election Update November 10, 2022. YouTube. 10 Nov 2022.

Citizens Clean Elections Commission. Arizona’s Ballot By Mail System. Accessed 11 Nov 2022.

Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Early Voting and Secure Ballot Intake Stations. Updated 19 Oct 2022.

Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Florida Election Watch — Governor. Accessed 11 Nov 2022.

Dixon, Matt. “After Scott requested investigation, law enforcement says no voter fraud allegations found.” Politico. Updated 9 Nov 2018.

Clark County Nevada (@ClarkCountyNV). “Clark County Election Update.” Twitter. 10 Nov 2022.

Clark County Nevada (@ClarkCountyNV). “Our response to former President Donald Trump’s recent comments about the elections process in Clark County, Nevada.” Twitter. 10 Nov 2022.

Sisolak, Steve. Governor, Nevada. Press release. “Governor Sisolak signs groundbreaking legislation to expand voting access in Nevada, increase education funding.” 2 Jun 2021.

The post Ballot Processing Continues in Closely Watched States Amid Unfounded Claims of Fraud appeared first on FactCheck.org.





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Neetu Kapoor & Other Family Members React To The Birth Of Ranbir-Alia’s Daughter


While the duo’s friends and colleagues from the film industry have reacted in flocks to this happy news, Ranbir and Alia’s family members have also taken to social media to congratulate the happy couple. Neetu Kapoor, Ranbir’s mother and Alia’s mother-in-law has re-shared their announcement note on her Instagram account with the caption, “Blessings”.

The newborn’s aunt and Ranbir’s sister, Riddhima Kapoor Sahni also took to Instagram story to shower her choicest wishes on the duo. Sharing a picture of the couple, she wrote, “Oooff! Happiest today <3 Proud parents to the most adorable baby girl #blessings. Bua loves her already.”



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Posts Misrepresent ‘Not Verified’ Code on Pennsylvania Ballot Applications – FactCheck.org


Quick Take

Pennsylvania uses a “not verified” code on mail-in ballot applications if a voter’s identity couldn’t be immediately verified; voters have six days after an election to submit a valid ID. But an Instagram post and some Republican leaders — including former President Donald Trump — falsely claim the state has “sent out 249,000 ballots to unverified voters” and misleadingly suggest it will result in widespread fraud.


Full Story 

Pennsylvania’s election code requires that voters who aren’t able to provide a form of identification when they request an absentee or mail-in ballot still be able to receive and cast a ballot.

Those voters must submit a valid ID at least six days after the election, or the vote won’t be counted. There were about 7,600 applications requesting an absentee or mail-in ballot whose ID still needed to be verified as of Oct. 27, according to a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of State.  

The term “not verified” is a code used to mark application requests for a ballot in Pennsylvania if a voter’s identity couldn’t immediately be verified or if the identity needed to be verified again before the ballot can be approved. The term is not used to describe the result of an identity check.

But a claim being spread on social media and by several Republicans — including Pennsylvania State Rep. Francis Ryan and former President Donald Trump — misleadingly says that more than 240,000 ballots have been sent to unverified voters. 

An Instagram post shared a screenshot of an Epoch Times headline saying, “Pennsylvania’s Department of State Has Sent Out 249,000 Ballots to Unverified Voters in 2022 Election.”

Ryan and 14 other state representatives sent a letter on Oct. 25 to Leigh Chapman, acting secretary of the commonwealth, asking for the Pennsylvania Department of State to immediately tell all counties to set aside the unverified ballots until the applicants provide a valid form of ID. 

The misleading claim originated from a report published Oct. 24 by Verity Vote, which describes itself as an election integrity research and investigations group, and has been shared in social media posts and by several blogs. One comment on a post says, “It is not clear that Pennsylvania will reject the unverified ballots if they are [m]ailed in without proper ID. What a screw-up!”

The Verity Vote report said, “a shocking 249,000 unverified mail ballots have been sent to applicants who provided invalid identification or no identification at all” as of Oct. 17, and if proof of ID isn’t received, county election officials “can and do count the ballots without the ID from the voter.”

The report also said this could lead to “tens of thousands of unverified ballots” being accepted and claimed counties have already processed over 58,000 applications despite their failure to verify the voter’s identity. 

But the claims misrepresent the “not verified” coding on the Pennsylvania ballot applications.

We reached out to Verity Vote for further evidence of its claims, but we didn’t hear back.  

Pennsylvania’s Voting Process

In 2019, Pennsylvania’s Election Code, Act 77, was signed into law allowing the options for registered voters to vote by mail-in ballot, early in person at a county election office, and on Election Day at a polling location. 

All 67 counties in Pennsylvania had updated voting systems as of June 2, 2020, “that produce voter-verifiable paper records and meet 21st-century standards of security, auditability and accessibility,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. 

Registered voters applying for an absentee or mail-in ballot must supply a Pennsylvania driver’s license, the last four digits of their Social Security number or their Pennsylvania Department of Transportation photo ID number.

If the applicant doesn’t have one of these forms of ID, they must enclose a photocopy of an acceptable identification, such as a U.S. passport or a U.S. military ID. Registered voters can apply for a mail-in ballot and cast it the same day at their county board of elections office.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002, a federal voting law, requires that an applicant’s ID be verified with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or the commissioner of Social Security.

The applications are marked “not verified” or “NV” if a voter’s identity couldn’t immediately be verified or if the application needs to be verified again before the ballot can be approved, according to a statement sent to us by Amy Gulli, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of State. 

“For example, a ballot application would be marked with NV if it is a new application that comes in and the provided ID was not able to be immediately verified,” the press release said. “Or, for another example, a ballot application would be marked as NV if it is from a voter on the permanent mail-in or absentee list who requested a mail ballot for both the primary and general elections, and their ID needs to be verified again for the general election.”

In response to Ryan’s letter, Chapman, the acting secretary of the commonwealth, wrote, “Notably, the code does not reflect the results of any identification check but is, in fact, an additional mechanism to ensure that counties are properly verifying ID provided by voters.”

Applicants also have the ability to request to be placed on the annual mail-in voter list, allowing them to receive a mail-in ballot for every election. The request must be submitted every year. Chapman noted these applications may be marked “not verified” to ensure the voters go through verification every year.

Both the press release and Chapman’s letter noted there were about 7,600 applications that still needed ID verification. In her response to Ryan, Chapman said his letter “does not clearly delineate how you arrived at this number” of 249,000.

Act 77 requires that individuals who claim that they are registered voters but whose names don’t appear on the register, as well as individuals who are unable to provide proof of identification, be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. 

But, as we said before, those voters will be required to submit a valid identification at least six days after the election or the vote won’t be counted. The press release from the Pennsylvania Department of State said the vast majority of voters provide proper identification during the application process.  

In 2020, there were 21,117 rejected provisional ballots for the general election, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of State. The department did not say why the ballots were rejected or how many of them were mail ballots. However, the U.S. Elections Project, which tracks early voting, reported that 7,411 mail ballots rejected in the 2020 general election in Pennsylvania were from “first time voters who did not provide required id with their mail ballot or a missing signature.”

Mail-in ballots are secured in three ways: An inner secret envelope that seals the ballot; the barcode on the outer envelope that is unique to each voter; and the secured chain of custody for the ballots. Voters must also sign and date the outer envelope or it won’t be counted, the Pennsylvania Department of State said.

Mail-in ballots must be received by county election officials before 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

Before mail-in ballots are counted, they must be removed from the secure envelopes and prepped for scanning — which can’t begin until 7 a.m. on Election Day, according to Pennsylvania law. 

Election results are expected to be available a few days after the election. 


Editor’s note: FactCheck.org does not accept advertising. We rely on grants and individual donations from people like you. Please consider a donation. Credit card donations may be made through our “Donate” page. If you prefer to give by check, send to: FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Sources

3 REASONS YOUR MAIL BALLOT IS SECURE.”  Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 3 Nov 2022. 

Act 77 – Pennsylvania Election Code.” legis.state.pa.us. 31 Oct 2019.

Acting Secretary Of State Outlines Vote-Counting Process After Election Day In Pennsylvania.”  Pennsylvania Department of State. 24 Oct 2022. 

Annual Mail Ballot List.”  Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 3 Nov 2022. 

Brelje, Beth. “Pennsylvania’s Department of State Has sent out 249,000 Ballots to Unverified Voters in the 2020 Election.” Epoch Times. Updated Oct 31. 

Chapman, Leigh M. Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “Response to Rep. Ryan Letter.”  28 Oct 2022. 

Deadline To Apply For A Mail Ballot For The Midterm Election Is Nov. 1.” Pennsylvania Department of State. 25 Oct 2022. 

Election Security in Pennsylvania.”  Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 3 Nov 2022. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Pennsylvania Elections.”  Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 3 Nov 2022. 

Gulli, Amy. Communications director, Pennsylvania Department of State. Email to FactCheck.org. 2 Nov 2022. 

Mail-in and Absentee Ballot.”  Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 3 Nov 2022. 

Pennsylvania Application for Absentee Ballot.” Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 3 Nov 2022. 

Pennsylvania Application for Mail-in Ballot.” Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 3 Nov 2022. 

Pennsylvania Department of State. “Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh M. Chapman.” Accessed 3 Nov 2022.  

Pennsylvania Department of State. “Department of State Corrects Misinformation About ‘Unverified Ballots.’” Press release. 27 Oct 2022. 

Pennsylvania Voter-Not-Verified Vulnerability.” Verity Vote. 24 Oct 2022.



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