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Misinformation ramps up in Pennsylvania as Biden closes in on taking state

As Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden moved closer to winning the vote in Pennsylvania on Friday morning, the state became a focal point for viral, false claims that the election was being “stolen” by Democrats. The claims were driven in part by the fact that Biden’s lead emerged in votes counted late. Many came from urban areas and many were cast as absentee ballots, which registered Democrats returned in greater numbers than Republicans. Conservative commentator Evan Kilgore said in a tweet shared more than 1,000 times, “Trump was leading in PA by over 100k yesterday afternoon. You really mean to tell me almost every single new vote counted went to Biden?”

Discrepancies in the display of unofficial vote counts also fed conspiracy theories in Pennsylvania, as they did in Michigan. Verified user Mike Coudrey, who has promoted the #StopTheSteal campaign that falsely alleges systemic election fraud, posted an image from a news broadcast that showed more mail-in ballots counted than had been requested in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, adding the comment, “Is this how math works in Pennsylvania now?” Official results show a smaller total of mail-in ballots. An unverified account posted last night a video from a live stream in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, of election workers “filling out ballots.” It was widely taken as evidence of fraud, including in a tweet from commentator and Trump campaign adviser Harlan Hill that was shared at least 2,800 times. The original video has received more than 1 million views.

A similar claim emerged from a video in Montgomery County, Maryland. But it is an established procedure for poll workers to write on ballots; for example, if they are marked too lightly to be scanned by voting machines, a spokesperson for the county’s board of elections told local CBS affiliate WUSA9. The spokesperson added that the video shows no malicious intent or fraud.