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Fact Check: Instagram posts – Instagram video makes false claim about early voting, Arizona governor’s race

An Instagram video suggests that if Arizonans vote early, it will give Democrats insider intelligence on how many people have voted for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and then scheme to generate votes to beat her, but that’s ridiculous.

The Instagram user tells Arizonans to vote in person and not early or by mail. 

“When you vote early, I’m not making any accusations, but it does give the opposition the ability to say ‘Hmmm, looks like for example Kari Lake has 2 million early voters, how many voters would we need to fake to catch up to that and surpass it?’” says the Instagram video.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.) 

Lake is running against her Democratic rival Katie Hobbs.

The Instagram video doesn’t explain how Lake opponents would find these “fake” votes, but such a scheme is make-believe. 

It’s not possible to know how many ballots so far were cast for Lake 

Ballot return data shows who voted and what party they belong to, but it does not say for whom they voted, said Paul Bentz, who specializes in public opinion surveys at HighGround, a Phoenix consulting company. 

Data companies aligned with the Democratic and Republican parties show that about two weeks before Election Day, Democrats are ahead in ballot returns. But that still doesn’t tell us who is winning, partly because independents could end up accounting for about 1 in 4 ballots cast.

Before former President Donald Trump cast doubt on voting by mail, Republicans dominated early returns in Arizona for nearly two decades. Republicans have shifted their behavior and more are voting or dropping off their ballots on Election Day, Bentz said.

Election officials will begin to post results at 8 p.m. local time on election night, per Arizona law. Until then, we don’t know how many Arizonans voted for Lake.

Claim ignores security procedures  

The idea that Lake’s opponents could somehow drum up “fake” votes to “catch up and surpass” Lake is an outlandish, criminal scheme.

Arizona state law requires that election officials take steps to ensure that voting is secure, including ballots cast by mail. 

Stephen Richer, the Maricopa County recorder and a Republican, said he has seen no evidence of “fake” ballots but that the notion is flawed. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, represents about 60% of Arizona’s voters.

 “Every vote has to have a corresponding registered voter,” Richer said. “So you couldn’t just inject forged ballots into the tabulator. You’d first have to create fake voter profiles. That means you’d have to fool the Social Security Administration or motor vehicle division. You’d also have to forge the ballot (which has special design and formatting marks). You’d have to forge the bar  code on the return envelope.”Casting phony ballots is illegal — whether the ballots themselves were counterfeit, or cast illegitimately, for example, by someone who isn’t a registered voter. 

Democratic and Republican campaigns engage in get-out-the-vote efforts such as door knocking, calling and texting voters, spreading messages on social media or hosting rallies. But those strategies don’t amount to generating “fake” votes.

The Instagram video is one of many social media posts nationwide this fall that urge voters to cast ballots in person on Election Day. This tactic is born out of the falsehood that voting by mail invites significant fraud. These falsehoods have lived on despite facts presented by Republican officials, including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, defending the security of the 2020 election. The majority of Arizonans cast ballots by mail.

Lake, a former Phoenix TV news anchor, is one of multiple candidates nationwide running on a platform of denying the reality that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. She has repeatedly said that the 2020 election was “stolen” and “corrupt,” ignoring evidence in dozens of court cases and findings by national and state officials that the election was secure.

Our ruling

An Instagram video claimed that in Arizona, early voting would allow Lake’s opponents to see how many votes they “need to fake to catch up and surpass.”

This is an unrealistic fantasy for multiple reasons. We can see how many Democrats, Republicans and others have voted, but we don’t know how many voted for Lake or her opponent. Arizona election results will become available starting at 8 p.m. local time on election night.

It’s unclear from the video how this scheme to drum up “fake” votes to surpass Lake would work. Election officials by law must follow security procedures that are designed to thwart any illegitimate votes.

We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

RELATED: Voting by mail has been popular in Arizona for decades. Now the state GOP wants to ban it

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Source: PolitiFact.