Fact check: Fauci said “there is no reason why we can’t vote in person” if guidelines are followed

Shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook, posts claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said, “there is no reason why we can’t vote in person” during the COVID-19 pandemic. This quote is missing context, as Fauci said that in-person voting could be done safely only if polling places enforce mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines and voters follow these guidelines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 31, 2020. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via REUTERS

Examples of posts making this claim can be found

here , here , here . The accompanying text reads, “The media loved repeating everything Fauci said until he said, ‘There is no reason why we can’t vote in person.’” 

The quote included in the posts comes from ABC News’ Deborah Roberts interview with the top U.S. infectious diseases expert during a National Geographic Event on Aug. 13 ( here ). Asked by Roberts whether in-person voting is safe, Fauci says the following that it can be “if carefully done according to the guidelines.” He likened the risk posed by heading to the polls to the risk of going to the grocery store during the pandemic, saying, “If you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing, and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that.”  

He added that mail-in voting, “done for years in many places,” remains an option for those who are “compromised, physically or otherwise” or those who simply “don’t want to take the chance.”

In saying “there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person or otherwise,” Dr. Fauci specified that doing so safely would require adhering to certain safety protocols. In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidelines for election polling locations and voters, available here .  

The posts also claim “the media” suddenly did not report on this statement by Dr Fauci, but instances can be seen hereherehere.  

On August 14, Dr Fauci told the Washington post he would “likely vote in person,” expressing his faith in polling stations observing social distancing measures. He added that those with health concerns over voting in person should be allowed to vote by mail (here).  

The claims appear to undermine the need for vote-by-mail access ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Advocates of mail-in voting, which is expected to nearly double due to the COVID-19 pandemic, see it as a safe and secure way to participate in the Democratic process while protecting voters and poll workers from infection ( here ). Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated claims to the contrary, election experts see little reason to expect a consequent increase in ballot interference and voter fraud  ( here , here ).   


Missing context. Fauci said that there is “no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person” during the COVID-19 pandemic as long as polling place workers and voters adhere to safety guidelines and recommendations.

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