FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims Michigan ‘Magically Found’ Over 130,000 Votes Cast For Joe Biden

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A viral Instagram post claims Michigan “magically found” over 130,000 votes cast for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden early Wednesday morning.

Verdict: False

The 138,339-vote increase for Biden shown in the image was the result of a clerical error in a Michigan county’s presidential election data that was quickly caught and corrected.

Fact Check:

The post features screen grabs of interactive election results graphics from the election data provider Decision Desk HQ. The top graphic shows Biden with 1,992,356 votes and President Donald Trump with 2,200,902 votes in Michigan, while the one below shows Biden with 2,130,695 votes and Trump with 2,200,902. The vote tallies for the other three candidates displayed do not appear to have changed between the two graphics.

“Democratic ran Michigan just magically found 138,339 votes overnight… LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE ONE FOR BIDEN!!!” reads the caption. “Not even one for Trump. Democrats are attempting to steal this election and they aren’t even trying to hide it.”

GOP consultant Matt Mackowiak and other Twitter users shared the screen grabs along with similar claims. In reality, the increase of 138,339 votes for Biden was the result of a clerical error in Michigan’s Shiawassee County presidential election data that was quickly caught and corrected.

When reached for comment, Decision Desk HQ President Drew McCoy directed Check Your Fact to a Nov. 4 tweet from the firm.

“This morning there was a clerical error in the Shiawassee, MI county presidential data,” Decision Desk HQ tweeted on Wednesday. “Once we identified the error, we cleared the erroneous data and updated it with the correct data as provided by officials. We stand by our data as reflected on results.decisiondeskhq.com.”

Decision Desk HQ tweeted the figures from the Instagram post’s bottom graphic at about 5 a.m. on Nov. 4. Roughly 40 minutes later, Decision Desk HQ tweeted updated figures that showed Trump with 2,217,540 votes and Biden with 2,019,899.

“It was a simple error from a file created by the state that we ingested,” a spokesperson for Decision Desk HQ told BuzzFeed News. “DDHQ does not correct/amend/adjust any state provided file. The state noticed the error and produced an updated count. This happens on election nights and we expect other vote tabulators in MI experienced this error and corrected in real-time as we did.”

Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson provided a similar explanation about the voting data in an email to Check Your Fact. (RELATED: Viral Image Falsely Claims Wisconsin Had More Votes Cast Than Registered Voters)

“The error was a typo at the end-of-the-night/morning. Yes, an extra zero was typed when entering the Biden figures,” she said. “The mistake was caught very quickly and corrected with the extra zero being removed. At no point were the results jeopardized. It was a typo.”

Mackowiak later deleted his tweet and noted that “the MI update referenced was a typo in one county.” During a Wednesday morning press conference streamed by Fox News, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said she hadn’t seen the screen grabs circulating on social media but asked “everyone to not repeat misinformation.”

The presidential race in Michigan was called for Biden by The Associated Press, NBC News and Fox News on Wednesday.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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