US Election 2020: Fact-checking claims about the Pennsylvania vote

Reality Check team and BBC Monitoring - BBC News
·4 min read
Philadelphia polling station ballots
Ballots being collated for counting in Philadelphia

With no result yet in a tightly-contested US election, claims which can be misleading are circulating on social media about voting and counting in key states.

The count is still going on in the battleground state of Pennsylvania - we've looked at some of the most widely shared claims about the situation there.

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Poll watcher was refused entry (but later let in)

One viral video showed a poll watcher being denied entry to a Philadelphia polling station.

Man talking to election officials outside polling station
Man talking to election officials outside polling station

It has had almost two million views on Twitter, and was shared by multiple pro-Trump accounts, saying Republican poll watchers were being banned.

The man in the video, Gary Feldman, a local Republican, was asked to wait outside by officials - with a woman telling him that his "city-wide" poll watching certificate was not valid in that particular polling station. The video was authentic, and the man was being stopped from entering, but it turns out there was confusion over the rules.

Poll watchers used to only be allowed in a certain station, but they can now visit multiple sites across Philadelphia.

Philadelphia city commissioners said the man was later allowed into the station and received an apology.

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Democratic poster didn't violate rules

A tweet shared by Mike Roman, who worked for the Trump election campaign, claimed that a Democratic poster was a "violation in sight" for being in close proximity to a polling station.

His tweet referred to "bad things" happening.

Screen grab of Mike Roman tweet
Screen grab of Mike Roman tweet

Election rules in Pennsylvania prohibit campaign materials, signs, banners and literature being within 10 feet of a polling station.

The post that Mr Roman originally amplified - now labelled as violating Twitter rules - gained significant traction online, but was rebutted by the Philadelphia District Attorney's office.

They said they had investigated the claim and found that the actual polling place was "located in an interior room and the sign in question was further than 10 feet from it".

So, that's not violating the election rules as they are in that area.

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No, Trump votes weren't "thrown away" by an election worker

This false claim appeared on Instagram, saying that an election worker in Erie County, Pennsylvania had thrown out more than 100 votes for President Trump.

It was shared as a screenshot by businessman Mike Coudrey, who then deleted the tweet, although it had been re-tweeted more than 6,000 times by then.

Screenshots have also been shared on Facebook by various pro-Trump and other groups, but some have been deleted.

The election board for Erie County has rejected the claim, calling it "false".

It said in a statement: "The person making the statements [about throwing out ballots] does not work in any way with Erie County or have any part of Erie County's election process. In fact, the individual is not a registered voter and is not believed to be a resident of Erie County."

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No, poll workers have not stopped counting votes

A claim that election workers in the city of Philadelphia were no longer counting ballots has been circulating, and was picked up by President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Mr Giulani refers to Mr Trump being in the lead in the state, and says the "crooked Philly Democrat machine" has stopped counting.

But this has been denied by the Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, who put out a statement on Twitter saying that Philadelphia will not stop counting.

Another statement from the city commissioners clarified that counting was continuing, but there were some delays in reporting.

"We're going to continue to count all day long."

The statement did acknowledge that for technical reasons, and due to the number of mail-in ballots, reporting the results would be held up until the following day.

There's a live stream online where you can watch the count going on.

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