The claim: Pennsylvania recorded more mail-in votes than ballots requested
A claim made by President Donald Trump and his supporters on social media is that Pennsylvania election officials reported more mail-in votes for the 2020 election than the number of ballots requested.
Users on Facebook are sharing a screenshot of a viral tweet from Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano that purports to show data shared by the Pennsylvania Department of State. Data is laid out in a chart, with vote totals for Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, with a timestamp of 8 p.m. Nov. 24.
Mastriano adds the chart "was posted on our Department of State dashboard but had since been deleted."
Below the chart is this question: "Pennsylvania reports having mailed out 1,823,148 ballots, of which 1,462,302 were returned. Yet total mail-in voters number 2,589,242? From where did the extra 1,126,940 votes come?"
"Why did PA take the data they posted down from the State Website? Because the numbers show more mail in ballots than they even mailed out. It’s all right before us!" wrote one user.
USA TODAY reached out to Mastriano and the Facebook users for comment.
The numbers are real but they are a mix of data from the state's primary and general elections. And the data is still on the state's website.
Over 3 million mail-in ballots requested
Election results as of Nov. 28 show that 1,995,691 mail-in ballots went to Biden; 595,538 mail-in ballots for Trump; and 24,783 mail-in ballots to Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen. That puts the total mail-in vote count at 2,616,012. Neither Biden's nor Trump's votes match the tallies in Mastriano's chart.
A total of over 6.9 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail or in person at polling locations, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
In a news release on Oct. 27, the deadline to apply for a mail or absentee ballot in the state, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's office said more than 3 million voters had applied to vote by mail.
The U.S. Elections Project reports that mail ballot request rates were 1,941,131 for Democrats; 784,851 for Republicans; 25,367 for a minor party; and 336,175 for independents, putting the total number requested at 3,087,524.
Where the numbers originated
The number used in the post likely comes from election results of the state's June 2 primary in Pennsylvania.
A data set from the Pennsylvania Department of State on the primary election shows that 1,823,148 mail-in ballot requests were made, the exact number used in the post to claim that Pennsylvania mailed out that number of ballots for the 2020 general election.
The number of ballots returned as claimed in the post likely originated from primary election data, as well. According to a report from the Pennsylvania Department of State, nearly 1.5 million voters cast their vote by mail-in or absentee ballot in the Pennsylvania June primary.
There are no extra votes, as claimed.
Further, the Pennsylvania Department of State did not remove data from the presidential election from its website. The site shows that all the data is publicly available online and it does not match up to the numbers used in the claim.
Our ruling: False
The claim that Pennsylvania recorded more mail-in votes than ballots requested is FALSE, based on our research. Numbers from the Pennsylvania Department of State show that over 2.6 million mail in ballots had been counted and over 3 million voters requested mail ballots by the Oct. 27 deadline. The false figure used in the claim originates from the number of mail in ballots requested for the Pennsylvania primary election or the number of registered Democrats that requested a mail ballot.
Our fact-check sources:
Pennsylvania Department of State, Nov. 3, 2020 Presidential Election Unofficial Returns Statewide
U.S. Elections Project, Nov. 20, Pennsylvania Early Voting Statistics
Pennsylvania Pressroom, Nov. 17, Pennsylvania Announces Record Turnout For Nov. 3 Election
Gov. Tom Wolf, Oct. 27, Pennsylvanians Urged to Hand-Deliver Mail Ballots Immediately
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Sept. 24, 2020 Primary Election Mail Ballot Requests Department of State
NBC Philadelphia, Oct. 19, Pennsylvania Mail-in Ballot Requests Hit 2.8 Million, Including 700,000 GOP Voters
Pennsylvania Department of State, Aug. 1, Pennsylvania 2020 Primary Election Act 35 of 2020 Report
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: PA ballot claim mixes primary, general election data