Instagram Posts Make False Claim California Voters Will Be ‘Turned Away’ From Polls Due To Mail-In Voting

By Chris Nichols,
Capitol Public Radio,
September 1, 2020


Widely-shared posts on Instagram on Monday claimed California voters would be “turned away” from in-person polling places on Election Day unless they change their voting preference to “No mail-in voting.” 

Election experts quickly rejected that message. 

We examined the details in this fact check.

Our research

The social media posts include an image of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and allege he changed the voting preference for “EVERY single voter in CA” to “vote by mail.” It goes on to claim that this move will lead to people being turned away at polling places unless they make a change to their voter preference.

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about PolitiFact California’s partnership with Facebook, which owns Instagram). 

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There are several ways California voters can participate in-person. Voters can fill out their ballot at home, place it inside the envelope provided and turn it in at a polling place, their county elections office or a ballot drop box. Voters must sign the outside of the envelope for their ballot to be counted. 

If voters want to fill out a ballot at a polling place, election officials recommend they bring their vote-by-mail ballot with them to “surrender” it at the polls, which essentially means they will exchange it for a ballot at the polling location and the vote-by-mail ballot will be canceled. 

Voters can also fill out their mail-in ballot at a polling place and turn it in onsite, though Mahood said election officials are encouraging people to fill out those ballots in advance to cut down on crowds at the polls.

For those who don’t bring their vote-by-mail ballots, there are still options. They will receive either a provisional ballot or, if they are in a county that uses the new vote center model, poll workers should be able to print them a new and regular ballot onsite, Mahood said. 

Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, which advocates for voters, said there are ways the public can slow the spread of election misinformation. 

She said officials are using the hashtag #TrustedInfo2020 to help voters identify reliable election information online.

Meanwhile, the California Voter Foundation is urging voters “to SIFT information before they share it.” SIFT stands for “Stop, Investigate, Find reliable info, and Trace sources before sharing anything via social media,” Alexander said. 

As for the claim at the center of this fact check, Alexander agreed it “is absolutely false.”

“We have many failsafes in our voting process to ensure no one is turned away,” she said. (Full Story)