FACT CHECK: Did An Illinois News Station Air ‘Pre-Rigged Election Results’ The Day Before The Primary?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A viral tweet claims an Illinois news station broadcasted “pre-rigged election results” the day before the state held its Democratic presidential primary.

Similar claims also appeared on Facebook.

Verdict: False

The news station accidentally aired a graphic containing test numbers during its rehearsal the day before the primary took place. The numbers do not reflect the primary’s actual vote totals.

Fact Check:

Illinois held its Democratic presidential primary on March 17, amid multiple states postponing their own primaries over concerns about the new coronavirus. (RELATED: Did Bernie Sanders Tweet, ‘My Object In Life Is To Dethrone God And Destroy Capitalism’?)

On March 16, the day before the state’s primary, a short clip from a local broadcast news station aired during “The Price is Right.” That clip, which came from WCIA-TV, included a graphic showing former Vice President Joe Biden beating out Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with the candidates winning 50 and 45 percent of votes respectively.

People quickly reacted to the graphic on social media: @bethanyjameswin, who tweeted a Facebook video, called it “#ElectionFraud,” while a Facebook user remarked, “In other news, the Illinois primary is tomorrow and they decided to post election results a FULL DAY EARLY … #VoterSuppression.”

The local station, WCIA-TV, did not broadcast “pre-rigged election results,” as social media users claimed. What viewers saw on their televisions was actually a mock-up graphic that the station accidentally broadcasted during their rehearsals for the next day’s Democratic primary coverage.

Broadcast news stations often do run-throughs to test graphics and technology. WCIA-TV explained in a statement that the graphic only aired for about a minute and its vote totals “are only test numbers and were zeroed out following the rehearsal.”

In actuality, Biden won roughly 59 percent of the vote, while Sanders won about 36 percent, according to CNN.

“This was an error, and in no way reflects the results of Tuesday night’s Illinois Primary Election,” the station’s statement concluded. “Management apologizes for any confusion or inconvenience.”

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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