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No viable election papers were trashed outside NJ county’s elections office

November 5, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Videos and images show that trash bins discovered outside an elections office in New Jersey’s Gloucester County contained blank and shredded ballots from the Nov. 3 election.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The papers in the bins included outdated envelopes and instructional materials, as well as spoiled ballots that were not viable for any electoral use, the Gloucester County clerk’s office said in a statement. The documents were discarded legally.

THE FACTS: In the days following New Jersey’s Nov. 3 gubernatorial election, videos and images claiming to show general election ballots dumped in bins outside an election office sparked bogus claims of election tampering and fraud.

The posts appeared to show both shredded and intact documents inside large green containers outside the Gloucester County Office of Elections in West Deptford, New Jersey.

“Breaking News out of West Deptford NJ:,” read one widely shared Facebook post. “Trash bins discovered outside the Gloucester County Board Of Elections containing blank ballots as well as bags of shredded ballots from Tuesday’s election!”

“More Treason in New Jersey,” a Twitter user wrote with the video.

However, the bins did not contain any usable election materials, the Gloucester County clerk’s office confirmed in a statement.

The clerk’s office statement said the office was contacted by the Gloucester County prosecutor’s office, which was investigating the individuals who appeared in social media videos that showed them rummaging through the recycling bins on the evening of election night.

The clerk’s office put the papers in the bins into sealed boxes and documented their contents.

“These individuals were incorrectly claiming fraud,” the clerk’s office statement said. “The materials in the recycling container were not viable for any electoral use.”

The clerk’s office also listed the documents that were in the bins, which included outdated yellow business reply mail envelopes for the 2021 primary election, outdated instructional materials showing how to complete and return a mail-in ballot, shredded envelopes from undeliverable ballots and spoiled ballots that were brought in for replacement after they were torn, damaged or incorrectly marked.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.