Human Error, Not Fraud, Shown in Fox Election Coverage of Georgia Runoff

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Quick Take 

In a clip from Fox News’ coverage of the Georgia Senate runoff, the vote tallies for both candidates briefly drop by thousands of votes. Social media posts use the clip to falsely claim election fraud. The Associated Press, which provided the data to Fox, said the clip shows a brief overestimate of votes caused by human error.   


Full Story 

The tight political races in the 2022 midterm election fueled a wide range of false and misleading claims of election fraud, as we’ve previously written.

In the closely watched Georgia Senate runoff held on Dec. 6, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock faced Republican candidate Herschel Walker. Warnock’s win bolstered the Democrats’ control of the Senate for the next two years.

More than 1.8 million people voted during the runoff’s early voting period held between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2 — a record number of votes. There were 1,630,860 voters who cast a ballot on Dec. 6, according to the unofficial election results from the Georgia secretary of state

But as the votes were tallied that night, a live broadcast on Fox News sparked claims of election fraud on social media, as the number and percentage of votes for each candidate decreased for a short period.

An Instagram post shared on Dec. 7 shows the clip with the caption, “They did it again. Does anyone really believe we have election integrity?” 

“More disappearing votes on live on TV,” the caption on a Dec. 7 Instagram post says. “Cheaters, lyres and a bunch of thieves,” reads a comment.

The 17-second video shared on the post shows a Fox News logo next to a graphic projecting the election results at 8:31 p.m. Central Time. 

The clip starts with 79% of the votes being counted. Warnock has 1,429,004 votes and 50.2% of the vote, compared to Walker’s 1,417,926 votes and 49.8%.   

The results on the video then show 78% of the vote counted, with 1,422,652 votes and 50.3% going to Warnock, and Walker’s votes dropping to 1,407,578 and 49.7%. Both candidates lose votes in the clip. Warnock’s vote count goes down 6,352 votes, compared to Walker’s drop of 10,348 votes.

The video is, indeed, a real Fox News clip, but a Fox spokesperson referred us to the Associated Press, saying the Fox vote data came directly from the AP.

Lauren Easton, an AP spokesperson, told us in an email that the video showed a brief overestimate of votes caused by human error.    

“Human error caused us to briefly provide incorrect, overstated numbers for less than a minute on Tuesday night,” Easton said.  “As soon as we saw the mistake, we quickly returned to providing the numbers reported by the state.”

The correct vote count at 8:31 p.m. CT would have been 1,422,652 votes for Warnock and 1,407,578 votes for Walker.

Later that night, the AP called the race for Warnock, with other outlets, including Fox News, calling the race soon after.

Warnock received 1,820,557 votes and 51.4% of the vote, and Walker received 1,721,200 votes and 48.6%, according to the unofficial election results from the Georgia secretary of state as of Dec. 14. 


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

Associated Press. “Why AP Called the Georgia Senate Runoff for Warnock.” 6 Dec 2022.

Barrow, Bill and Jeff Amy. “Warnock wins Senate reelection, giving Dems another seat.” Associated Press. Updated 7 Dec 2022.

Easton, Lauren. Spokesperson for the Associated Press. Email to FactCheck.org. 13 Dec 2022.

Georgia Election 2022 (Runoff).” Georgia.gov. Accessed 12 Dec 2022.

Ibssa, Lalee and Murray Isabella. “Early voting for Georgia Senate runoff shattered records. Why?” ABC News. 5 Dec 2022.

Jones, Brea. “Inaccurate TV Graphic Sparks Erroneous Claims of Election Fraud in Pennsylvania.” FactCheck.org. 22 Nov 2022.

Jones, Brea. “Posts Misrepresent How Florida Arrived at Quick Election Results.” FactCheck.org. 18 Nov 2022.

Georgia.gov. “Registered voters in Georgia can vote in person before Election Day.” Accessed 14 Dec 2022.

Georgia.gov. “Runoff Early Voting Starts.” 28 Nov 2022.

Patel, Komal. “Posts Falsely Claim to Show Hobbs in Arizona Election Tabulation Room.” FactCheck.org. 11 Nov 2022.

Spencer, Saranac Hale. “Ballot Printer Delayed Maricopa Voting, Contrary to Unfounded Claims.” FactCheck.org. Updated 29 Nov 2022.

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