A video circulating Friday on Twitter purported to show ballot counters in Delaware County “filling out” ballots in what some Republican pundits called voter fraud.
But county officials said that was false, and that the footage used a zoomed-in snippet of the county’s livestream that stripped out important context.
The counter depicted in the video snippet was being observed by poll watchers from both political parties, according to county spokesperson Adrienne Marofsky, who added that those watchers were not shown in the frame because of the way the video was manipulated.
In the video, the female ballot counter is transcribing ballots that had been damaged and were unable to be fed into the counting machines, she said. A small number of the ballots the county received were in that condition, and had to have their information copied onto a blank ballot so the votes could be counted properly.
County officials, in a statement Friday, said the manufacturer of the machine scanning ballots, Hart, directs ballot counters to follow this procedure for damaged ballots.
“In accordance with that guidance, the chief clerk of the Delaware County Bureau of Elections instructed elections staff to manually transcribe the damaged ballots,” the statement read. “As ballots were being transcribed, the original damaged ballots were directly beside the new ballots and bipartisan observers witnessed the process at close range. Damaged ballots have been preserved.”
County Council President Brian Zidek said that process was used in 2016 for the much smaller number of mail-in ballots. Zidek, a Democrat, decried the video being circulated as part of “the false narrative that there is a grand conspiracy to alter the will of the voters.”
“The video, had it not been doctored, would’ve showed both parties watching so there wasn’t any funny business,” Zidek said. “We need to stop spreading lies and undermining democracy. No one election is worth trashing democracy.”
He added that bipartisan poll watchers were standing 6 feet away from the ballot counters, in a policy requested by John McBlain, Zidek’s predecessor as County Council president and a prominent Republican in the county.
“And just to make sure everyone is satisfied, we have cameras watching what is going on, in addition to the observers from both parties observing what is happening,” Zidek said. “To suggest there is a conspiracy is just nonsense.”
Delaware County was a Republican stronghold for decades, but increasingly shifted Democratic in the last four years. The County Council flipped to a Democratic super majority in November, the first time in county history that Republicans did not control the governing board.