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Fact Check-Fox News clip shows drop in vote count due to estimates

The vote count reported by Fox News for the Virginia gubernatorial race dropped from 97% to 94% of total votes cast, prompting some social media users to question the election or its coverage. While the footage is authentic, the posts are missing context: the figures in question represent estimates and not the definitive number of total votes. Fox News later said it is normal for such estimates to change throughout election night coverage.

“DID ANYONE JUST SEE FOX CHANGE TOTAL VOTES REPORTED FROM 97% TO 94% ARE THEY TRYING TO ACCOUNT FOR CHEATER VOTES? MAKING ROOM,” reads a tweet ( here ) with 134 retweets.

Some posts with the claim feature videos and screengrabs of live coverage by Fox News during the Virginia gubernatorial race on Nov. 2 ( here , here , here ).

Iterations are viewable on Facebook too ( here , here, here, here , here ).

Around timestamp 00:07 here ( here ), the figure viewable on the right bottom corner of the screen was “IN:97%”. Around timestamp 00:16, this number changed to “IN:94%.”

At both instances, Democratic Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin had 48.1% and 51.2% of the vote respectively.

Contacted by Reuters, a FOX News spokesperson shared an on-air explanation by Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier and ‘America’s Newsroom’ anchor Bill Hemmer ( here ).

The figures highlighted by social media users represent an estimate by the Fox News Decision Desk of votes cast as a percentage of total votes. Such estimates were based on the numbers of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial race, Hemmer said, but were likely to vary as projections for the size of the turnout changed.

In a panel ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Arnon Mishkin, Decision Desk Director at Fox News explained they had “redesigned” their models to use “percent of expected vote rather than percent of precincts reporting.” ( youtu.be/QnNnYr361iU?t=3479 )

VERDICT

Missing context. Fox News explained that the vote count, shown on screen during election night, is based on an estimate rather than a definite number of total votes cast, meaning fluctuations in this number are normal.

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

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