Clip shows French TV error, not election fraud
CLAIM: The number of votes for French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen decreased from 14.4 million during a live count to 13.3 million when her defeat was declared.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The TV channel France 2 displayed inaccurate figures at one point during an on-air live count due to a computing error, according to a statement from the broadcaster. The software that the channel used to display data from France’s Interior Ministry counted certain municipalities’ votes twice for both candidates, France 2 said. There is no record of the Interior Ministry officially reporting the inaccurate figures.
THE FACTS: After Emmanuel Macron won a second term as France’s president on Sunday, some social media users suggested without evidence that election fraud may have played a role in his victory.
Some Twitter users pointed to a clip from a France 2 broadcast on election night that showed a graphic displaying more than 14.4 million votes for Le Pen, seemingly beating Macron at that time, who was shown on screen to have about 14.2 million votes.
The result shown during that point in the broadcast for Le Pen was higher than the final count later announced by the Interior Ministry. Official results show Macron received nearly 18.8 million votes, while almost 13.3 million votes were cast for Le Pen.
“How is it possible that the number of votes counted for Marine le Pen went down from 14.4m during the live count to 13.3m at the declaration?” one Twitter user wrote Monday, sharing the clip. “It stinks of election fraud,” commented another in French.
The station, however, said in a statement Monday that Le Pen never actually received 14.4 million votes. Instead, the station attributed that figure, aired at around 9:10 p.m., to a technical error that caused the graphic to show “erroneous figures.”
The software glitch counted the votes of certain municipalities twice for both Macron and Le Pen, inflating their respective vote counts at the time, France 2 said.
“That error, immediately noticed, has been subsequently corrected,” the broadcaster added.
Though Le Pen lost the presidency, she earned about 41.5% of the vote, which is still considered a political gain, the AP has reported. Breaking through the threshold of 40% of the vote is unprecedented for the French far-right.
Associated Press writer Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.
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