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Fact check: Video shows collection of valid mail-in ballots that were posted on or before Election Day

Videos showing workers picking up mail-in ballots from ballot drop boxes in Los Angeles “after Election Day” have been shared thousands of times on social media. Some users referring to the videos allege the scene is proof of “election fraud”. This is false. L.A. County officials told Reuters that these ballots were collected on Nov. 4 but were deposited by voters on or before Nov. 3. They are therefore valid and will be processed and counted.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

One of the early iterations of the video was posted on Twitter here . The post on Nov. 4 reads: “@DonaldJTrumpJr This happen today after the election about three hours ago in Reseda California FYI."

“Are you guys collecting ballots? I thought they’ve collected them all,” a woman off camera says as she approaches two individuals that appear to be picking up mail-in ballots from the ballot drop box. “Wait, how come they already called the state,” the woman can be heard saying around the 0:11 minute mark.

Posts with this video are visible on Facebook here (archive.vn/YY96y) , here (archive.vn/Iq3I5) , here (archive.today/fcLWz) , here (archive.today/jOCRk) .

Some users commenting and sharing the video allege the scene is proof of “election fraud” with comments like “I thought there was no evidence mail in voting was prone to fraud?” (archive.vn/eU5vM) and “More election fraud BS going on” (archive.vn/XMfO8) .

Another video posted on Twitter here (archive.today/v1PVi), shows a similar scene allegedly in uptown Whittier, in Los Angeles County. The man off camera can be heard saying around the 0:07 mark, “I don’t usually see people picking up thousands of ballots the day after the election.”

Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) told Reuters via email that the ballots shown in these videos “are valid ballots and will be processed and counted in our Official Election Canvass.” The ballots, Sanchez said, were being picked up by RR/CC staff.

“All vote by mail ballot drop boxes were closed and locked at 8 PM on Election Day. Ballots from all boxes throughout the County were picked up the following day,” he added.

Information on the California Secretary of State's website (bit.ly/36pCyVl) states: "Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered to a ballot drop-off location must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day."

COUNTING BALLOTS/CALLING STATES

As reported by the New York Times here , the United States has never had “final results” or a final vote count on election night; instead, the projected winners that are reported by news organizations on that day are based on partial counts.

On the night of Nov. 3, Edison Research declared Joe Biden as the projected winner in California, a solid Democrat state (here). NBC (here) and The Associated Press did so too (here) .

The Associated Press explains here that the results from VoteCast, “the AP’s wide-ranging survey of the American electorate” and “an analysis of early voting statistics” confirmed that California’s “longstanding political trend in favor of Democratic presidential candidates will be hold.”

Media outlets also projected wins for Donald Trump on election night, such as Indiana (here , here) and South Carolina (here, here, here ) .

While it is true that California was called for Biden and other states have been called for Trump, this does not mean that ballot counting stops.

As of Nov. 6, 2020, 10:15AM EST, Reuters reported that 77% of expected votes had been counted in California. As visible here 65% were for Biden and 33% for Trump at this time.

This false claim that the video shows a mail vote irregularity feeds into a narrative echoed by President Trump that mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic would increase voter fraud. 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 ( here ) .

VERDICT

False. This video is not evidence of electoral fraud. Vote-by-mail ballots could be deposited in ballot drop boxes in California up until 8pm local time on Election Day. The boxes were then locked and the ballots collected the following day.

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

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