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Inaccurate study makes false claims ahead of Iowa Caucus

February 3, 2020 GMT

CLAIM:  Eight Iowa counties have more adults registered to vote than voting-aged adults living there. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The Iowa Secretary of State knocked down the false information, showing it was based on outdated information.

THE FACTS: In advance of the Iowa caucuses being held Monday night, Tom Fitton, founder of Judicial Watch, tweeted a report claiming that eight Iowa counties have more people registered to vote than are actually eligible to vote. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate moved quickly to counter the false information.

“It’s unfortunate this organization continues to put out inaccurate data regarding voter registration, and it’s especially disconcerting they chose the day of the Iowa Caucus to do this,” Pate said of Judicial Watch, which shared the claim on Twitter. “They should stop this misinformation campaign immediately and quit trying to disenfranchise Iowa voters.” 

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Pate backed up his statement releasing information that showed the number of voters registered in those eight counties did not actually exceed the adult population. 

But the claim festered Monday online _ where it was liked, retweeted and viewed thousands of times. Some even accused Pate of lying about official voter registration numbers.  

Fitton, a conservative activist who released the inaccurate data information online Sunday, said in an interview with The Associated Press that he used older statistics and census numbers to reach his conclusion. “BREAKING: @JudicialWatch: Eight Iowa Counties Have Total Registration Rates Larger than Eligible Voter Population – at Least 18,658 Extra Names on Iowa Voting Rolls,” Fitton tweeted on Feb. 3. The tweet had over 2,000 retweets. 

Fitton maintained voter fraud is “a big issue” and said he released the findings in order to coincide with the Iowa Caucus. 

Pate tweeted a link to the secretary of state’s website, for those who wanted to check the numbers. “The county population numbers you claim are way too low. Dallas County’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is nearly 9,000+ more than you claim, and Johnson County’s is nearly 7,000 higher,” Pate tweeted. 

But the false information circulated Sunday and throughout the day on social media. “WOW: One day before the Iowa Caucus, it’s been revealed that EIGHT Iowa counties have more adults registered to vote than voting-aged adults living there...Don’t let voter fraud steal the 2020 election...RT for national Voter ID!” stated a Twitter post that was retweeted more than 40,000 times. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536