• Neith Pereira, Marisa Sachau, and Lauren Turner

The 2020 Presidential Election: Ongoing Voter Misinformation and Misconceptions

As final votes are slowly being counted, Neith Pereira, Marisa Sachau, and Lauren Turner report on the misinformation and misconceptions that are surrounding this unique time in history.

A variety of symbols related to controversies in the 2020 election. Visual by Neith Pereira.

Ballot Misinformation and Misconceptions

1. Count every vote!

This is so important, not only to ensure a fair election but it is also the basis of our democracy. A non-partisan campaign called “Count Every Vote” is pushing to make sure that every vote is counted. It is a nod to the election officials to let them count all the votes, no matter how long it takes.

On the other hand, President Donald Trump has taken a different approach to how and when votes should be counted. For example in his tweet, President Trump condemns counting votes after election day.

With an abrupt message, the president of the United States has signaled his own views on late vote counting.

As we continue to walk on eggshells, it is important to know that we are fighting for a fair election.

2. Voting out of state

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to voting out of state, especially for college students. Best College’s article, “Challenges to Student Voters,” explains how to vote for college students. When discussing absentee ballots they write, “To make it easier for busy students to vote, the government allows students to submit absentee ballots if they are still registered in their home state but are attending school out of state.” However, “As an alternative, degree-seekers who maintain a residence (permanent or temporary) in the state where they attend college can also change their voter registration to that state, allowing them to vote in person.” Check out the article here on how to vote properly as a college student:

3. The Registration Process

Registering to vote is vital in an election process. Each and every state has their own registration deadline. There is even a National Voter Registration Day which this year took place on September 22. However, in some states, such as California or Colorado, they have same-day registration on election day. Below is a link to the National Voter Registration Day organization website and a link to an article done by ABC News which highlights the deadlines for registering to vote in the 2020 election.

A reminder from the Union of Concerned Scientists that ALL votes will be counted.

4. What is with the Sharpies?

Sharpies on ballots have become a new controversy. President Trump claimed that the reason his voter turnout was not bigger in Arizona is because of, you guessed it, sharpies. In “Sharpie Ballots Count in Arizona” by Saranac Hale Spencer, it is clarified that all ballots will be counted. Spencer quotes the Secretary of State of Arizona, Katie Hobbs, who said, “All of those ballots are being counted. And even if the machines can’t read them for some reason, a marker bled through to the other side, we have ways to count them. They’re going to be counted. There is absolutely no merit to saying that this was some conspiracy to invalidate Republican ballots.” Check out Spencer’s article for a more in depth look at how it is a main priority of Arizona that all votes are counted, no matter what pen you used.

5. What happens if I make a mistake on my ballot?

It is more than common to make a mistake on your ballot and there is no need to panic. In an article done by Michelle Wiley, “I Made a Mistake on my Ballot. How Do I Fix It?” Wiley walks voters through the process of how to either fix their mistake or request a new ballot. The most important part is that your vote matters and it is counted.

6. Fake mail drop offs

In the state of California, stress arose when fake ballot drops offs were found all up and down the coast. People immediately started to wonder if their vote would be counted or not. If you are ever worried about your vote not counting, call your city and see where the proper drop offs were. In this article by the New York Times, they explain this panic in California:

7. Ins and outs of mail-in voting

Another myth that has been circulating is that mail-in voting is not safe for putting your ballot in the mail. The United States Postal Service has been in charge of mail-in ballots before and not this much controversy has surrounded them. President Trump has not done much to stop this distrust in the post office, instead he has pushed the narrative further.

President Donald Trump goes as far to call mail-in voting ballots as “devastating” and destructive. This condemnation from a president on mail-in voting helps those who may not be able to come in-person to vote, such as voters with a disability or in the military.

8. Young voter turnout!

Young voter turnout has been a topic of discussion in this election. On October 29, NPR quoted TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier saying, “The number of early voters under 30 who are voting for the first time in their life is more than double the number of first-time voters at this point in the 2016 election.” Go young voters!

9. Winning Misinformation

With COVID-19 leaving many people at home, many depended on voting with mail-in ballots or absentee ballots. Because of this, it is taking much longer to count all the votes and not giving the American people as quick of a result as we would like. For example, President Trump called a premature win in Pennsylvania when all the votes had not yet been counted there.

In Trump’s press conference he stated that he had possibly won the election, way before all votes have been accounted for. Yet, we are still in the process of counting for our next president.

10. Media Misconceptions

A lot of people get upset over news outlets. So, double check where you are consuming your news, especially during election time. Each and every outlet falls somewhere on a spectrum of leaning right or left.

These are just a few of the controversies and misconceptions consuming our 2020 election. Remember that during this time it is important to take a breath and just do some extra research.

Explainer Reporting by Neith Pereira, Marisa Sachau, and Lauren Turner

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