Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fact Check; Were Illegal Voters Used in Alabama Election?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fact Check; Were Illegal Voters Used in Alabama Election?

Article excerpt

Byline: Carole Fader

Times-Union readers want to know:

I saw on Facebook that illegal voters were bused in to Alabama to swing the election to Doug Jones. I read that a small town of 1,800 people had more than 5,000 votes for Jones. Is any of this factual?

Democrat Doug Jones was elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election on Dec. 12. His Republican opponent, Roy Moore, still hasn't conceded.

In that time, a number of websites have posted made-up stories suggesting that rampant voter fraud contributed to Jones winning by an unofficial margin of 20,715 votes.

But, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. The Alabama Secretary of State's Office, which oversees statewide elections, doesn't usually comment on reports of voter fraud, but it has not received reports in any numbers that would change the outcome of the election, communications director John Bennett told FactCheck.org on Dec. 13.

Since then, the same network of "satirical" websites that originally published that bogus story have brought forth some more, stating that the outcome of the election is questionable. But disclaimers on each of the websites states that "everything on this site is fiction."

FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network. Those Facebook users flagged some of the stories after they were published by other websites without a satire label.

FactCheck.org points out the following claims:

Claim: Black residents from other states were bused in to vote for Jones.

A story on the Patriot Post website had the headline: "BREAKING: Busload Of Blacks From 3 States Drove To Alabama To Vote Illegally." But all of the details in the story were fabricated.

For example, the story quotes a fictional official from the "State Election Integrity Board," which FactCheck.org found does not exist. Then it says that 27 black people were arrested at "Warsaw Middle School in Selma," which is not a real school. It also identifies the Selma police chief as "Santiago Swearinger;" his name is actually Spencer Collier.

In addition, the story also contained the photos of eight young African-Americans who were not involved in the Alabama special election. The photos were taken in 2014 after those eight teens were arrested for allegedly throwing rocks and food from their school bus at passing vehicles in South Carolina, FactCheck.org reported.

Claim: Thousands of fraudulent votes were recorded in one small Alabama town.

The headline on another fake story from Ladies of Liberty, a related website to the Patriot Post, reads: "'Thousands' Voted For Doug Jones In Alabama Town With Population Of 2,256. …

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