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Wagon filmed at Detroit vote center held camera gear, not ballots

November 5, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows a man unloading ballots from a white van and using a red wagon to secretly haul them into Detroit’s ballot-counting center in the middle of the night.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The man in the video was a photographer for the local news station WXYZ-TV. He was using a wagon to carry camera equipment for a 12-hour shift, the station reported on Wednesday.

THE FACTS: On Wednesday, as poll workers tallied millions of mail-in votes in battleground states including Michigan, the right-wing commentator Steven Crowder shared a grainy video of a man unloading something out of a white van, placing it onto a red wagon and lugging it inside Detroit’s TCF Center.

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“This only creates MORE questions about votes and ballot security concerns in Michigan,” Crowder tweeted.

Social media users and conservative websites quickly seized on the video, calling it “highly suspicious” and claiming it showed a man smuggling illegitimate ballots into the facility “in the dead of night.”

However, the local news station WXYZ-TV soon clarified the real explanation: the man was one of the station’s photographers, and he was using the wagon to carry his heavy camera equipment.

“A conservative ‘news’ site reports catching a man wheeling in ‘suspicious’ equipment to the Detroit convention center, implying it was used to steal ballots,” tweeted Ross Jones, an investigative reporter for WXYZ-TV. “The ‘ballot thief’ was my photographer. He was bringing down equipment for our 12-hour shift.”

In its fact check, the station also shared a photo of the wagon holding a Pelican brand camera case with a WXYZ-TV sticker on it.

The Associated Press declared Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden the winner in Michigan on Wednesday after an analysis showed there were not enough votes left in Republican-leaning areas of the state for President Donald Trump to catch up.

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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