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VERIFY: Oklahoma ballots found in the trash in viral video were not fraud

A viral video of two men’s discovery at an Oklahoma polling location had many commenting that it could be a potential example of voter fraud. It wasn't.

A viral video posted on social media over the weekend shows two men after a wedding discovering a trash bag filled with ballots.

The wedding in Oklahoma was held at a venue that had been a polling location earlier in the week. 

The men point out that there are numerous ballots filled out for Republican President Donald Trump, and one filled out for Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden.

THE QUESTION

Did the men find that marked ballots had been thrown into the garbage? Was their discovery an example of voter fraud or election tampering?


THE ANSWER

The ballots in the trash were "spoiled ballots" that had been filled out incorrectly and discarded after voters turned them in. They included ballots on which the voter mistakenly marked more than one option in a race. 

Officials say "spoiled ballots" are returned to the precinct clerk and then destroyed before the voter is given a new ballot.

This was not an example of voter fraud or election tampering. 

WHAT WE FOUND

The Oklahoma State Election Board cleared this rumor up themselves. 

In a series of tweets, they explained that, “This video is from [precinct] 469 / [subprecinct] 457 in Tulsa County. These are clearly 'spoiled ballots' where the voter mistakenly marked more than one option in a race.”

If you look closely in the video, you can actually see instances where the ballots had more than one option chosen for the same race. 

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Those ballots aren’t valid, but the voter can create a new ballot. 

“Spoiled ballots are returned to the precinct clerk and destroyed,” the Oklahoma Election Board explained. “Then the voter is issued a new ballot.”

Credit: AP
Ballots are counted at the Allegheny County Election Division warehouse on the Northside of Pittsburgh, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The election board also provided an affidavit from the voting precinct in the video. It shows that at least 11 voters had to re-do their ballots. The spoiled ones were then destroyed and thrown out. 

Claims these ballots prove voter fraud are false. 

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