Decision 2020

Misinformation, Not Intimidation, is Biggest Issue Reported on Election Day

A Republican challenger in Montgomery County filed a lawsuit trying to throw out votes from about 50 people who had issues with their ballot. Meanwhile, a hotline for Philly voter issues dealt with social media misinformation.

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There was concern ahead of this election day that an "army" of amateur poll watchers would try to interfere with democracy, whether it was disrupting in-person voting, the vote count, or repeatedly challenging people's credentials to vote.

Those concerns were only amplified last month when in a debate, President Donald Trump urged voters to keep an eye on unspecified "bad things" in Philadelphia.

But multiple officials and groups monitoring this Election Day 2020 told NBC10 that while it wasn't their only focus Tuesday, the biggest issues they've seen came from false or misleading information online.

"Misinformation being spread online has driven more calls to the ETF hotline than actual incidents at polling sites," the Philly District Attorney's Office said in an evening email.

As the evening set in, the office's Election Task Force dealt with 52 complaints, 47 of which were resolved quickly and peacefully. There were claims of poll watchers being turned away and of campaign literature being posted too close to a polling place that drove the conversation online and were later debunked.

The nonprofit Common Cause also reported flagging social media posts with misinformation and urging the tech companies to remove the posts.

It was also apparent to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro that foreign governments were likely involved in some of the misleading information that spread on social media.

"Hopefully what happened was the American people...the people of Pennsylvania, made decisions based on factual information," Shapiro said during Battleground PA, NBC10's election night digicast.

There's a chance the country will have to wait awhile for the results of the presidential election which means more people could be exposed to disinformation, especially online. NBC News investigative reporter Brandy Zadrozny speaks with NBC10's Jim Rosenfield about what she's seen so far on social media.

NBC News' Brandy Zadrozny explained that disinformation often comes from bad actors. Recently, social platforms have gotten better about flagging, if not taking down, misleading posts, Zadrozny said.

Other voters experienced delays at polling places, due to long lines, poll workers not being ready to open on time, or inexperienced poll workers not knowing answers to certain key questions.

But the day wasn't without its challenges in court. NBC10's Claudia Vargas reports that a Montgomery County candidate for Congress is filing a last-minute lawsuit against the county's elections officials over the way it tried to rectify some voters' mistakes on their mailed ballots.

The candidate, Republican Kathy Barnette, is running against Madeleine Dean for her House seat representing Montgomery County. Attorneys for Barnette argued that Montco elections workers violated state law when they contacted 49 mail-in voters who had defective ballots.

Lawyers have spent Election Day arguing in court about flaws in the election process. NBC10 investigative reporter Claudia Vargas is monitoring election court in Philadelphia where the Trump campaign has filed various motions.

Those defects could be a missing signature or a "naked ballot" that was missing the inner secrecy envelope. The county contacted those voters to give them a chance to correct the issues and make their votes count.

Barnette wanted those votes thrown out, considering them "spoiled." But Montco elections officials say their process was legal and permitted under state elections code.

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