No, sending postcards to states will not decertify 2020 ballots
A Facebook post promotes a website that charges people money to send postcards to state lawmakers so they can ‘decertify’ ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election .
But this postcard strategy is about as effective as sending your Christmas wish list to the North Pole. There is no process to decertify ballots and there was no widespread fraud in the election.
That hasn’t stopped some conservative activists from pushing this baseless narrative.
One such activist is Janet Folger Porter, who lost a Republican congressional primary in Ohio in May.
These five states –– Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan –– were won by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The website charges people $25 to send a postcard to Wisconsin, $50 to send to Wisconsin and Arizona and $100 to send to all five.
The site encourages people to send in the postcards by September 4. After that date, election officials are authorized under federal law to destroy 2020 ballots.
But a postcard blitz won’t change those facts: Biden beat Donald Trump. The states certified the votes. Congress accepted the results. Biden is sworn in as president. Voter fraud was minimal – not enough to change the outcome of the election. Judges dismissed dozens of lawsuits alleging fraud or seeking to change the outcome.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)
A 1960 law requires ballots to be retained for at least 22 months
The website calls on people to send postcards before September 4 because a federal lawthe Civil Rights Act of 1960, states that election offices must retain ballots cast in federal races, including for president, for 22 months.
A report of a House committee in 1959 explains that the reason for the provision, recommended by the Department of Justice, was to protect the right of citizens to vote without discrimination based on race. The department needs access to voting records to investigate complaints of discrimination.
The committee highlighted a 1959 case in which state and local government officials in Alabama refused to allow the U.S. Civil Rights Commission to inspect voting and registration records to investigate complaints that citizens were disenfranchised because of their race.
In some states targeted by the postcard campaign, local election officials told PolitiFact they view the law as a practical matter because they have limited storage space. Once the 22 months have passed, the electoral offices systematically destroy the ballot papers.
In Milwaukee County, about 465,000 ballots were cast in the November 2020 election, said Michelle Hawley, director of the Milwaukee County Board of Elections.
“Imagine trying to store all those pieces of paper for an extended period of time – we’d run out of room,” Hawley said.
Push to ‘decertify’ 2020 results not rooted in law
A few state lawmakers have called for the decertification of the 2020 elections, including in Arizona and Wisconsin, but their efforts have not garnered widespread support among their peers.
Those who float the idea of decertifying ballots are suggesting something that does not exist under the law, says Chris Krebsthe former federal cybersecurity official who was fired by Trump.
“Here’s the thing: you are the brand,” Krebs tweeted in 2021. “They want your money, they want your rage, they want you to show up, protest and threaten officials. You’re a pawn. Nothing more. “
The decertification fraud website is run by Porter and a group called The America Project, started by Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of online furniture retailer Overstock.com. Byrne donated millions of dollars to the Cyber Ninjas Society that conducted the Republican-led vote review in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Byrne also donated money to a group led by Jim Marchant of Nevada, who is on a nationwide slate of Republicans vying to hold an election while repeating Trump’s lies about voter fraud.
We did not receive a response from the website when we asked for evidence that the postcards could cause the ballots to be decertified. As of August 15, the website said 527 postcards had been sent to lawmakers.
If people really want to send a letter to a legislator suggesting an idea that doesn’t exist in law, they can do it in an email for free. This postcard invitation appears to be a strategy to help people promoting election lies raise more money.
A Facebook post urges people to “send your postcards to 5 key states to decertify fraud” in the 2020 election.
People can send the postcards, but it won’t have the impact they want because there is no decertification of the election.
The states certified the 2020 election results. There is no evidence that widespread fraud took place.
We evaluate this Pants on Fire statement.
PolitiFact researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this fact check.
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