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Fact Check-County officials say TikTok clip shows valid collection of ballots before deadline on election day in Clark County, WA

Following the Aug. 2 midterm primary election in Washington state, social media users shared a clip filmed by a woman driving a car close to a ballot drop box in Clark County. The woman is seen approaching an election worker holding a blue bag to collect ballots.

A spokesperson for Clark County, Washington told Reuters the scene shows a standard procedure that took place 30 minutes before the 8:00 p.m. deadline on Election Day for drive-up drop box retrieval and that voters could still deposit their ballots in the drop boxes if preferred.

The clip, however, has triggered misleading commentary online, with some users claiming that the scene is evidence of voter fraud (here) or is “illegal” (here) (here) (here).

The 30-second-long video was posted on TikTok (here) on Aug. 3 with the caption: “Who thinks after 2022 this is ok? closing the ballot box 30 mins prior to elections closing and collecting ballots into an open bag?!?Clark County Primary Election #election2022 #election #primary #washingtonelections.” It has gained over 1.6 million reproductions as of the writing of this article.

Clerk County Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber told Reuters that on election night they “instruct our deputized personnel, clearly identifiable as election officials with ID badges and vests, working in teams of at least two, to have one team member stand beside the ballot drop box to quickly gather ballots into an official ballot bag from voters in their car in line starting around 7:30 p.m. to move the line quickly.”

Depositing the ballots in the designated box remains an option.

Around 10 seconds into the video, two additional people are visible close to the ballot drop box in the video (a person wearing an orange vest and a person with an ID hanging on their chest).

Washington state legislature stipulates that at least two people should help remove ballots from drop boxes (here).

“We have political party observers watching the entire process. All ballots received from the boxes and voters are placed in official bags and sealed with accountability seals before they leave the drop box location,” Garber added.

She added that this is so they can “speed up the process for the voters” and ensure they “clearly determine the end of line that remains at 8 p.m.”

The Clark County, WA Elections Department states on its website (here) that ballots must be delivered by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Ultimately, voters within this valid timeframe who do not wish to hand their ballot directly to election workers may still deposit it in the ballot drop box, Garber said.

Toward the end of the video, the election worker can be heard telling the driver, “You can go up there and put it in there,” she says.

The state of Washington shifted to vote-by-mail in 2005. In Clark County, voters can only vote in person in the Elections Office (here). According to the Washington State Secretary of State, voters can also check the status of their voted ballot at the website VoteWa.gov, three to five business days after it has been received (here).

In response to Reuters asking what the video shows, Amy Lin, at the Communications Department of the Office of the Secretary of State, said that “election workers providing additional support, particularly when lines get long in order to expedite ballot submission, is not uncommon.”

Key results for the primary elections in Washington State were reported by NPR (here). Arizona, Michigan, Kansas and Missouri also held primaries on Aug. 2 (here).

VERDICT

Missing context. Clark County, Washington instructs their election workers to have one person to gather ballots in official ballot bags directly from voters starting 30 minutes before the 8 p.m. deadline on Election Day, to “speed up” the retrieval process. Voters can choose to deposit them also directly in the drop boxes.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

Update Aug. 5, 2022: Includes response from Washington State Secretary of State.

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