Officials: What’s debunked, what to watch out for if misinformation spreads on Election Day

The biggest thing for everyone to know is there will not be final results of all races Tuesday night.
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 8:41 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 7, 2022 at 9:50 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Ahead of the election, officials are warning the public about misinformation they may see on social media Tuesday night. Often, it’s not even coming from people who live here.

The biggest thing for everyone to know is there will not be final results of all races Tuesday night. That is normal for Arizona because not all ballots will be counted on election night. Officials and experts say that despite the misinformation and false narratives flying all over social media tomorrow, they want people to be aware and not become part of the problem.

Chairman Bill Gates of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is debunking much of what’s expected to come Tuesday night before it even begins, giving examples of what to watch out for on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.

False Narrative #1: The state has the ability to count all votes on election night and chooses not to.

That’s not true. “The problem is people on social media will take the fact that we don’t have final results on election night or early the next day as somehow proof of fraud, or allowing that people can start rigging the election or something like that. That’s simply not the case,” said Gates.

In Arizona, with early voting, the day of ballots to count, and some extremely tight races, it could be days, or even more than a week, before we have final results.

A news conference was held in Maricopa County to address false election stories and urge the public not to believe them.

False Narrative #2: The machines don’t count the votes accurately.

“The accuracy of these machines is tested before the election. It’s done by Maricopa County, it’s done by the Secretary of State’s office. Those have already been done to make sure there’s been no tampering,” said Gates.

He said if the machine doesn’t pass the tests, it’s not used, and there is no artificial intelligence being used either, despite rumors of that.

False Narrative #3: Election workers are going to change my vote.

That isn’t even possible. Chairman Gates said there is a hand count as well as the machine count, and noted in the 2020 election and this year’s primary, the machine counts matched the hand counts. Part of the social media problem is this: “A lot of this misinformation is being spread by people who don’t even live here in Maricopa County,” said Gates.

Political consultant Stacy Pearson said people on social media often perpetuate it solely there to spread their agenda, no matter what’s realistically happening. “It’s coming from folks who are being paid to get on social media and make wild claims that can never be proven,” said Pearson. “The lie moves so quickly, the truth takes days to catch up.” Pearson said a word to the wise for Tuesday: even if you see something inaccurate or blatantly wrong on social media, don’t quote, tweet, or comment on it, even if you’re saying it’s ridiculous or a lie.

Pearson said that only further spreads it out there and gets more eyes on it. She said the best method is to report it on whatever platform you see it on to help get it taken down.