You may have seen a number bouncing around Twitter saying that there were 95,801 “Biden-Only Ballots” in Georgia compared to just 818 “Trump-Only Ballots.” That appears to originate with Steve Cortes from the Trump campaign:
Trump only ballots: 818
Biden only ballots 95,801https://t.co/J1bZpFynOO
— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizRNC) November 11, 2020
Great news on Georgia!
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) November 11, 2020
If you actually watch Cortes explain this, however, he is computing something completely different: the difference between the Joe Biden and Donald Trump votes and the votes for Georgia Senate campaigns. But he completely ignores the possibility that some voters submitted split-ticket ballots, i.e., they voted for Biden but also cast ballots for David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler for the Senate. If you compare the total number of votes cast in the Georgia Senate race between Perdue and Jon Ossoff, you see that the 95,000 number is mathematically impossible. As of the current count, there were 4,991,753 votes cast in Georgia in the presidential election, and 4,945,454 votes cast in the Perdue-Ossoff race. That’s a difference of 46,299 votes, meaning that it is not possible that there were 95,000 ballots with only a presidential vote marked. (There have been 4,907,912 votes counted so far in the Georgia Special Senate election, which means that at least an additional 37,542 people voted in the Senate race that had a clear Republican and Democratic candidate, but stayed out of the one where there were multiple candidates from each party).
If you applied the same math to Maine, you would find that 56,287 fewer people voted for Trump than for Susan Collins. That does not mean that Trump was robbed of 56,287 votes in Maine, it means that some voters went for Biden and Collins, as voters have been doing as long as there have been elections.
This is exactly the sort of bad argument I warned against in my column this morning. It collapses under modest scrutiny, and worse, it disregards the existence of voters whom the Republicans will need to vote for Perdue and Loeffler again on January 5. Split-ticket voting is not fraud, and there is nothing unusual about it.
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