Fact check: Clip of Biden taken out of context to portray him as plotting a voter fraud scheme

Shared on Facebook and Instagram days leading up to the 2020 U.S. general election, posts show a clip of Joe Biden saying, “We have put together I think the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.” The posts falsely ask if the video shows the Democratic presidential candidate “admit(ting) to voter fraud.” It was a slip of the tongue - Biden was describing the voter protection program his campaign has launched in anticipation of potential legal fights over the outcome of the Nov. 3 election against President Donald Trump.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Voter Mobilization Event campaign stop at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., October 12, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

Posts sharing this video along with this claim can be found here , here and here . 

The claim feeds into baseless assertions repeated by President Trump and some Republican allies that a surge in mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic will lead to massive fraud in November’s election. Experts say election fraud is vanishingly rare in the United States, where nearly one in four voters cast a mail-in or absentee ballot in 2016.

A Reuters explainer on the security measures states have in place to ensure ballot integrity is available here . 

On Oct. 24, President Trump and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shared the clip on Twitter, with the president tweeting, “What a terrible thing for Biden to say! Rigged Election?” ( here ) and McEnany tweeting, “@JoeBiden brags about having ‘most extensive VOTER FRAUD organization’ in history” nine hours later ( here ).   

The clip was taken from a nearly 27-minute interview with Biden on Crooked Media’s “Pod Save America,” a progressive political podcast hosted by former aides to President Barack Obama Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor ( here ). Uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 24, the former vice president’s full interview with Pfeiffer and Lovett is available .  

The clip shared by Trump, McEnany and others starts around the 19:13 mark, when Biden tells Pfeiffer and Lovett, “Secondly, we’re in a situation where we have put together—and you guys did it for President Obama’s administration before this—we have put together I think the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.”

Biden’s campaign did not respond to Reuters request for comment as of this article’s publication.

Likely meaning to say “voter protection” instead of “voter fraud,” the former vice president is referring to the special litigation team his campaign has launched as it braces for potential legal fights over the outcome of the election (here). Biden’s campaign for months has been ramping up what it calls the largest voter protection program in presidential election history, after Trump repeatedly has suggested without evidence that the election could be “rigged”. 

The former vice president goes on to remark that what his opponent “is trying to do is discourage people from voting by implying that their votes won’t be counted, can’t be counted”. Mentioning “the long, long lines at early voting”, he advises voters not to “be intimidated” if they run into roadblocks while trying to cast their ballots. To reach his campaign’s team of “over a thousand lawyers… who will answer the phone if you think there’s any challenge to your voting”, the candidate says to call “833-DEM-VOTE.”

Talking about the Obama administration’s efforts “before this”, Biden was likely referring to the former president’s strategy of challenging voting laws it viewed as discriminating by race, an effort to counter a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that freed states from the strictest federal oversight (here).  

Paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the voter hotline Biden mentions is “monitored by DNC employees 24/7/365 who are ready to field questions pertaining to felon disenfranchisement, voter purging, poll worker misconduct, voter machines, accessibility, and more”. ( here ) 

On Oct. 25, Fox News published a story picking up on Biden’s mix-up, with the headline “Biden says in video he has created ‘voter fraud organization’” ( here ). The 5th paragraph of the story states that “Biden may have been referring to his campaign's massive "election protection program," which includes former Attorney General Eric Holder and hundreds of other lawyers in preparation for a legal battle in the event of a contested election.” 

The Reuters Fact Check team has debunked multiple social media claims about alleged voter fraud in the lead-up to the 2020 general election. Examples can be found here , here , here , here , here , here , and here 


Missing context. This clip of Biden allegedly “admitting” to voter fraud has been shared out of context. As seen in the full interview, the former vice president was discussing his campaign’s voter protection program.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .