Fact Check

Are Penn. Officials Blocking Observation of Absentee-Ballot Processing?

"No one is being blocked from anything," according to officials in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

Published Nov. 3, 2020

Are election officials in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, blocking the observation of absentee-ballot processing?

Why no rating on this article? This is a trending topic but has not yet been rated by Snopes for reasons we’ll outline below.

On Nov. 3, 2020, a rumor started to circulate on social media that election officials in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, were blocking the observation of absentee-vote processing. This unverified rumor prompted baseless speculation that officials could nefariously alter the vote since they were no longer being observed counting absentee ballots:

This claim was dismissed by officials in Allegheny County, however, who wrote on Twitter, "No one is being blocked from anything."

Pennsylvania appears to be the target of some misinformation campaigns related to Election Day. Earlier today (you can view our live blog of Election Day fact checks here) we investigated another claim holding that a Philadelphia polling place was violating election laws by displaying an illegal sign. The Philadelphia District Attorney said that claim was "deliberately deceptive."

NBC News reported:

Conservative media influencers and Republican political operatives are tweeting misleading videos and photos from polling places, making dubious claims of election rigging from the battleground state of Pennsylvania. Several tweets have been shared tens of thousands of times.

Although we haven't yet been able to definitively determine whether Moore's claim about Allegheny is accurate or authentic, we have observed that it has certain traits that are often indicative of misinformation:

  • The claim has not yet been confirmed by official sources.
  • It appears this claim is being shared widely by only one political faction.
  • This claim relates to alleged criminal conduct, but the relevant law enforcement agency (whether federal, state, or local) hasn't yet reported the supposed incident.
  • This claim has been refuted by other sources with greater or roughly equal credibility.
  • This claim has been refuted by at least one official source.
  • This claim does not cite any specific source, e.g. "I'm hearing reports that..."

The presence of those traits does not necessarily mean that the claim or content is bogus, but it does mean you should certainly be wary of sharing it online.

It should also be noted that individual anecdotes do not signify widespread problems. It's possible that occasional problems will occur throughout Election Day, but that those problems will be rectified without large ramifications.

The Allegheny County Twitter account posted:

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.