A Fox affiliate station in Phoenix mistakenly shared test election results during a live newscast.
"This graphic was never meant to go on air — the numbers were only part of a test," Fox 10 said.
The incident sparked conspiracy theories on social media about election rigging.
A Fox affiliate TV station in Arizona said it mistakenly published test election results during a live broadcast, and the move triggered conspiracy theories about rigged voting.
Fox 10 Phoenix said in a Thursday night statement that a small graphic with test results for an upcoming election appeared in the bottom left part of the screen during a live newscast at 5:50 p.m. local time. It said the results were generated and distributed by the Associated Press, which has historically provided election results to clients.
Although Fox 10 did not name the specific race it accidentally shared results for, screen-grabs of the newscast circulated on social media showing results for Arizona's gubernatorial election — which is between Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs and Republican candidate Kari Lake.
"This graphic was never meant to go on air — the numbers were only part of a test. The station has taken steps to make sure this cannot happen again," Fox 10 said.
One screengrab of the newscast posted to Twitter by Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar showed the test election results giving Hobbs 53% of the vote with Lake obtaining 47%. The timestamp of the screengrab matched with when Fox 10 said the incident took place.
The mistake, which Fox 10 acknowledged in statements shared on both Twitter and Facebook, triggered some harsh commentary of the news station and prompted individuals to post conspiracy theories on the social media platforms.
"Why is it when these 'tests' are done, the Democrat is always in the lead?" one Twitter user wrote in response.
"I hope you get sued for this. I can't wait to see the discovery process happen. Are Fox 10 and the @AP in the process of rigging an election? Who put you up to this? It will all come into the light..." another user said.
On Facebook, one user accused the media of "already telling us" the election outcome "regardless of the vote tally."
"Voter Intimidation Fox 10 Phoenix. Ballots are still being collected and your station does this!! No Excuse!!" another user said.
In defense of Fox 10's mistake, Tennessee's WTVC NewsChannel 9 said the test election results are "not some nefarious, election-rigging plot. FYI."
"Making you aware that before every election night, the @AP tests its election results system — which we use — to make sure it's running properly. You can't test it properly without putting numbers in to test it," WTVC said.
The incident comes amid heightened rhetoric among Republicans about baseless election fraud claims just a few weeks ahead of the 2022 midterms.
Earlier this month, the FBI even warned voters about the potential for various election crimes.
Read the original article on Business Insider