Fact Check

Afghanistan Plane Crash Burns Military Absentee Ballots

Did a plane crash in Afghanistan destroy the absentee ballots of U.S. military personnel?

Published Nov 1, 2012

Claim:   A plane crash in Afghanistan destroyed the absentee ballots of U.S. military personnel.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2012]

AFGHANISTAN PLANE CRASH burns military absentee ballots: HOW coincidental.....? The military is voting almost 8 to 1 for Mitt Romney, now tens of thousands of ballots and other precious mail to soldiers have been lost. WHAT ARE THE ODDS??????


Origins:   This item about a plane crash in Afghanistan destroying absentee ballots for U.S. military personnel began circulating in October 2012, with the suggestion that such an accident's befalling the ballots of a group that supposedly votes heavily in favor of one candidate was too "coincidental" to be believed.

The Associated Press did report that a transport plane whose cargo included mail for U.S. troops, including some absentee ballots, crashed at Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan on 19 October 2012. However:

  • It has not yet been verified whether any of the absentee ballots carried on that plane were destroyed.
  • The absentee ballots carried on that plane were blank ones waiting to be distributed, not already-cast votes being returned for counting.
  • If necessary, the affected states should have sufficient time to redistribute new ballots to replace any destroyed ones.

The Associated Press account of the crash read as follows:

Federal officials say that absentee ballots being sent to U.S. military serving in Afghanistan may have been burned in a plane crash.

A top official in the Federal Voting Assistance Program this week notified election officials across the nation that a transport plane crashed at Shindad [sic] Air Base on Oct. 19.

The crash resulted in the destruction of 4,700 pounds of mail inbound to troops serving in the area.

Federal officials in their email to state election offices said they did not know if any ballots were destroyed. They also said the lost mail was limited to one zip code.

But they recommended that election officials resend a new ballot to anyone who requested one since the first ballot may have been destroyed in the crash and fire.

Last updated:   27 October 2012


    Associated Press.   "Crash May Have Destroyed Absentee Ballots."

    Army Times.   26 October 2012.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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