Fact Check

Military Absentee Ballots Delivered One Day Late Would Have Swung Election for Clinton

Social media users were confused by a satirical site's claim that delayed military absentee ballots would have swung the election to Hillary Clinton.

Published Nov 14, 2016

Delayed military absentee ballots would have "swung" the presidential election for Hillary Clinton if they had been counted on time.

On 9 November 2016, the Duffel Blog web site published an article reporting that delayed absentee ballots submitted by active duty servicemen and women "would have swung" the election in Hillary Clinton's favor if they had been delivered in time to be counted:

Sources confirmed today that hundreds of thousands of military absentee ballots were delivered hours after the deadline for them to be counted, with preliminary counts showing that they would have overturned the vote in several states and brought a victory for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Officials say the ballots were delivered late due to problems within the military mail system.

Tracking invoices show the ballots sat in a warehouse for a month before they were accidentally labeled as ammunition and shipped to Afghanistan. At Camp Dwyer, Marine Sgt. John Davis signed for them and was surprised at the contents.

“I told Gunny we got a bunch of ballots instead of ammo,” Davis told investigators earlier today. “He told me to file a report of improper delivery and that the chain of command would take care of it. We didn’t hear anything for three weeks ... While we were waiting, we came under fire so we dumped a bunch of them in the Hesco barriers. We didn’t dig those ones back out.”

After military officials realized the initial error, the ballots were then sent back to the U.S. but suffered a series of setbacks.

“It’s a shame,” Rear Adm. John Dawes said, when asked for comment. “I expected a delay so I ordered that everyone cast their votes eight months ago. It’s really unfortunate that our mail system failed us and directly affected the course of history.”

Upon hearing the news, angry Democrats have demanded a recount, but most military absentee voters have shrugged off the news, with many wondering whether the care packages their families sent six months ago were ever going to show up.

Duffel Blog is a military satire web site, and their "About" page demonstrates a humor-based style suggesting the above-referenced article was a spoof of slow military mail delivery service and not a genuine report of ballot submission delays. Unlike most "satire" sites, Duffel Blog seeks to amuse (not confuse) a specific and small audience: military personnel:

Since 1797, Duffel Blog has been serving the men and women of the American military with insightful commentary and hard-hitting journalism. While other agencies have sometimes run from possibly scandalous stories, Duffel Blog has been known to be edgy and ahead of its time, almost as if they could see into the future. After reporting on President John Adams’ $200 per week cocaine habit in March 1799, Duffel Blog was named The American Military’s Most-Trusted News Source by the Columbia Journalism Review and the nickname stuck.

Duffel Blog is sometimes referred to as “The military version of The Onion,” but this is a popular misconception. The misnomer was cleared up in May 2012 when DB staff successfully conducted an airborne assault on the offices of The Onion News Network so that others would know “The Onion was actually the civilian version of Duffel Blog.”

Although readers familiar with Duffel Blog would immediately catch its satirical intent, the brand of humor it employs is very specific and often lost on civilians, and (due to the site's smaller scope) the occasional Duffel Blog article has caused social media confusion among those outside the military.

Prior instances in which Duffel Blog articles were misidentified as genuine news included claims West Point posthumously revoked diplomas of confederate soldiers, the Army adopted a "mandatory divorce" policy to "improve readiness," Ariana Grande joined ISIS, the USS Gabrielle Giffords would be the Navy's first "gun-free" warship, the Pentagon allocated large amounts of money for Powerball tickets to fund the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter was stripped of his award after failing to complete a minor course while actively serving.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.