A popular Democratic Facebook page falsely claimed that “Trump supporters are blocking access to polling sites” in a New Jersey town on Election Day. Local police called the report “entirely false.” The photo cited in the post was taken two days earlier.
As Election Day carried on throughout the country, social media posts circulated a baseless claim that supporters of President Donald Trump were intimidating voters in Clifton, New Jersey.
But local police and county officials said the claim was false and that the photo purporting to show the incident had been taken two days earlier.
A Democratic Facebook page called The Other 98%, which has 6 million followers, shared the claim early Nov. 3, stating: “Trump supporters are blocking access to polling sites at Clifton City Hall, New Jersey…this is a Class A Felony!! What would you do if this piece of crap was standing between you and your right to vote?”
The post included a photo of a man holding a pro-Trump flag near a drop-off ballot box outside of Clifton City Hall. It was shared nearly 3,000 times.
But the Passaic County clerk, whose office oversees elections, said her office had received no such complaint.
“The Passaic County Clerk’s office has not received information about anyone blocking access to voting locations today,” Danielle Ireland-Imhof, Passaic County clerk, told us in an email. “This year’s election in New Jersey has been primarily vote-by-mail.”
Likewise, the Clifton Police Department addressed the matter in a Facebook post, saying: “Our agency has been notified via various media outlets that there have been reports (today) of voter intimidation occurring at the ballot box located in front of Clifton City Hall. It should be noted that these reports are entirely false.”
In a phone interview with FactCheck.org, Lt. Robert Bracken said a police report was filed about the incident two days earlier, on Nov. 1, when a man took a photo with a pro-Trump flag in front of the ballot box. It was deemed a “suspicious act.”
But Bracken said surveillance footage showed the act was brief and that police did not see evidence that the man was harassing or intimidating voters. Police referred the matter to the state attorney general anyway, since it pertains to voting issues, he said.
Lee Moore, a spokesman for the New Jersey attorney general’s office, said in an email that “[o]ur office is aware of a photograph being circulated on social media that is being described as Trump supporters blocking the ballot drop box. Our understanding based on prior reports is that the photograph is not from today.”
Moore also noted that “Clifton City Hall has a ballot drop box but is not a polling site.” He declined to comment beyond that, saying the office could not “confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.”
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Ireland-Imhof, Danielle. Passaic County clerk. Email to FactCheck.org. 3 Nov 2020.
Bracken, Robert. Lieutenant, Clifton Police Department. Phone interview with FactCheck.org. 3 Nov 2020.
Clifton NJ Police Department (@CliftonNJPolice). “IMPORTANT: Our agency has been notified via various media outlets that there have been reports (today) of voter intimidation occurring at the ballot box located in front of Clifton City Hall. It should be noted that these reports are entirely false…” Facebook. 3 Nov 2020.
Moore, Lee. Spokesman, New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. Email to FactCheck.org. 3 Nov 2020.