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Fact check: Instagram user claiming to have ‘thrown out over a hundred ballots for Trump’ in Erie, Pennsylvania is not a poll worker

On Election Day 2020, users on social media shared a screenshot of an Instagram story of a user claiming to be a poll worker in Erie County, Pennsylvania. The user, identified as @omg_seabass, announced he had intentionally “thrown out over a hundred ballots for trump [sic]” in the hopes of making Pennsylvania “turn blue.” The Erie County Board of Elections debunked this claim in a statement, confirming this person was not a poll worker and played no part in the County’s election process.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

A post here ( archive.today/ZrLPW ) reads: “There is a poll worker in Erie, PA named Sebastian Machado who has admitted on Instagram that he is purposing throwing away pro-Trump ballots.”

The complete text of the Instagram story reads: “Been working at a poll station in Erie county, PA all morning. A lot of people have already voted today [smiley face] I’ve thrown out over a hundred ballots for trump already!! Pennsylvania gonna turn blue 2020!!”

The claim was also shared on Twitter ( archive.vn/G5i2l , archive.vn/I19f6 ). An archived version of a now deleted tweet here ( archive.vn/2a0yQ )featuring the screenshot was retweeted 6,876 times.

The Erie County Board of Elections Chair Carl J. Anderson III ( here ) debunked the claim in a statement on YourErie.com ( archive.vn/4Ug1z ) released in the afternoon of Nov. 3, calling it an “unfortunate” false claim “being shared across social media.”

After looking into the incident, he said the County confirmed “the person making the statements 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, Pa.”

Anderson III added that “because this is now part of an ongoing investigation to pursue potential criminal charges, no further statement will be made on this matter.”

It is unclear if the user intended this post to be a joke. As of this article’s publishing, the user @omg_seabass did not respond to Reuters request for comment via Instagram direct message.

VERDICT

False. The Erie County Board of Elections confirmed that an Instagram user who said he had thrown away over one hundred Trump ballots is not a poll worker.

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

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