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Political Extremism in the Public Square: A resource for journalists and voters
PolitiFact and the Poynter Institute are offering free training for journalists on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, to stay sharp during the midterms. PolitiFact and the Poynter Institute are offering free training for journalists on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, to stay sharp during the midterms.

PolitiFact and the Poynter Institute are offering free training for journalists on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, to stay sharp during the midterms.

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman June 9, 2022

If Your Time is short

  • PolitiFact is fact-checking claims about the U.S. voting system and claims about voter fraud.
  • PolitiFact is also partnering with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies on training for journalists to better report on increased intimidation, threats and violence surrounding the democratic process.
  • Training is available for free for jounalists, and out fact-checks are available to be republished. For more information, contact

Disinformation about election processes and alleged election fraud is falsely stoking anger among voters who feel neglected by their government. That same disinformation — perpetuated by online elements and amplified by some pundits and politicians — has created tense situations across the United States. As Americans head toward the 2022 midterm elections, there is no evidence these pressures are waning.

With support from the Joyce Foundation, PolitiFact is working with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies on a series of programs to address these challenges.

The Poynter Institute is training journalists so that they can be better prepared to cover and report on issues related to voter suppression and intimidation. And PolitiFact is holding politicians, pundits and online actors accountable by debunking election-related disinformation ahead of the 2022 election. That work is free and available to publishers across the country.


Though it received the most global attention, the insurrection at the U.S. capitol is just one example of a disinformation-fueled attack on the American democratic process. And it didn’t end the trend toward mainstream extremism. How do you cover elections for a public that is extremely fractured? This free online group seminar will help local journalists stay safe and produce ethical, excellent stories about voting, security and local issues leading up to the 2022 midterms and beyond.

PolitiFact's most recent fact-checks

PolitiFact fact-checks are available to be republished. For information, email

Fact-checking Arizona’s Blake Masters’ claim of open borders and Democratic amnesty plans

Blake Masters, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in Arizona, said that to win more elections, "Democrats want open borders so they can bring in and amnesty tens of millions of illegal aliens." The rules, manpower and hardware at the southwest border might not satisfy Masters, but he exaggerates by saying the border is open. The process of becoming a U.S. citizen — and therefore earning the right to register to vote — can take many years. And there is no guarantee that newly arriving immigrants several years from now will vote for Democrats. We rate this claim False.

Fact-checking Louisiana Democrat’s claim about Black Americans and the right to vote

Gary Chambers, a Louisiana Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, said in a campaign video "one in 13 Black Americans are deprived of the right to vote." Chambers was referring to the number of African Americans who lost the right to vote due to a felony conviction, based on a 2016 analysis from the Sentencing Project. A  2020 report by the same group found that number dropped slightly to 1 in 16 African Americans. It includes people who have served their sentence, are on probation or parole, or remain in prison. We rated this statement Half True.

In Georgia race, election denier distorts Brad Raffensperger’s use of a Zuckerberg grant

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., said that Georgia’s secretary of state used "$50 million of Zuckerberg money" in 2020 to "tip the scales." In 2020, the secretary of state received a $5.6 million grant from a nonprofit that received funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for nonpartisan voter outreach. But Georgia had plenty of company – 23 states, led by both Republican and Democrat officials, received grants. There is no evidence that Brad Raffensperger used the money to "tip the scales." We rated this statement False

Debunking the zombie claim that ‘dead people always vote Democrat’

Kevin Rinke, a Republican candidate for Michigan governor, said in an ad that "dead people always vote Democrat." Not every case of voting on behalf of the dead has been discovered, adjudicated in court, and received media coverage. However, six cases that have surfaced during the past five years produced either a plea of guilty or no contest, and in each case the defendant was either a registered Republican or acknowledged voting for Trump. Even this small number of cases is enough to invalidate Rinke’s sweeping statement that only Democrats do this. Usually when such cases occur, it involves individuals who fill out a mail ballot in the name of a close family member who has died. We rated this statement False

Why Trump is wrong to call Alaska’s ranked choice voting 'rigged'

Trump is free to dislike ranked choice voting, but his characterization is wrong. Ranked choice voting is a legal way to conduct elections, and the voters’ choices rule. Alaska has a history of secure and transparent elections run by bipartisan teams, and that structure doesn’t go away with ranked choice voting.

In 2020, Trump laid the groundwork for blaming his loss on a "stolen" and "rigged" election — statements we found ridiculous. He is using a similar approach here in his efforts to denounce a senator who supported his impeachment after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. We rated this statement Pants on Fire.

No, pens provided by Arizona election officials aren’t part of a plot to rig state primary

Social media users have suggested there is something wrong with the Pentel pens provided by Maricopa elections officials and that they are part of a plot to rig the Arizona primary Aug. 2.

The county tested the pens and found they dry quickly, which helps during in-person voting when voters feed their ballots into the tabulation machine. If voters use a pen that doesn’t dry quickly, it can smudge the ballot or muck up the tabulation machine, requiring cleaning and slowing the voting process. We found no evidence the pens are part of a nefarious scheme by election officials. We rate this statement False.

See more fact-checks at

Understanding the basics

PolitiFact is creating a series of stories to better understand the big issues when it comes to voting and democratic processes. The explainers, which are available to republish, help readers understand issues like voter fraud, how the election process functions, and what laws that govern election security and election intimidation, among other issues. For information about republishing these stories, email

The faulty premise of the ‘2,000 mules’ trailer about voting by mail in the 2020 election

A documentary by Dinesh D’Souza, a far-right commentator, furthers the myth that something sinister occurred with mail ballots and ballot drop boxes during the 2020 election. D’Souza told Fox News that "mules" delivered 400,000 illegal votes. Experts say the evidence D’Souza points to is inherently flawed. "If there is credible evidence, where is it?" said Kenneth Mayer, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "This is not it."

What you need to know about the fake Trump electors

Soon after the 2020 election, legitimate electors signed certificates showing Joe Biden won. On the same day, Republicans signed additional certificates falsely declaring Trump the winner in their states and sent the documents on to the National Archives. The Justice Department as well as a prosecutor in Georgia are investigating the phony electoral certificates. The Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed some of the people who signed them.

Democracy experts support Alaska’s move to ranked choice voting. Here’s why

In 2020, Alaska voters approved a change in their voting system to ranked choice voting. For the general election, voters rank the candidates in order of their preference. As soon as one candidate wins 50% plus 1, they win, going as many rounds as it takes. Ranked choice voting has previously been used in Maine as well as multiple cities as varied as jurisdictions in Utah to New York City. Democracy experts say ranked choice voting makes it less likely that an ideologically extreme candidate can prevail by winning a small plurality of the vote in a crowded primary. 

How ‘Stop the steal’ Republicans seeking office hope to restrict voting

A coalition of more than a dozen Republicans is running on a shared platform that would make big changes to how U.S. elections operate. They have campaigned on the false premise that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election. The coalition’s platform includes wiping out early and mail voting, two options that have grown in popularity with voters, and requiring almost everyone to vote on Election Day. The coalition’s platform poses risks for voters and threatens democracy.

A coalition of ‘stop the steal’ Republicans aims to take control of US elections. QAnon is helping

The coalition of Republicans running to take control of the chief elections offices in swing states includes the involvement of a mysterious but influential promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who goes by the alias "Juan O Savin." Some adherents of the movement falsely believe he is the late John F. Kennedy Jr. in disguise. 

Poll workers are short-staffed, under attack — and quietly defending democracy

Falsehoods about voting, threats and the lingering effects of COVID-19 have made recruiting poll workers more challenging, but they are stepping up nationwide.  Poll workers told PolitiFact that they’re motivated by a desire to contribute to their communities, to get a closer look at how elections operate and to help enable their neighbors to cast ballots.

What journalists need to know about the laws on covering elections

When a journalist is covering the process of voting – whether it’s for mayor, governor or U.S. Senator –  the goal is the same: show the public the truth about the administration of elections. Accurate reporting about elections helps reduce the spread of unfounded rumors. We explain the types of information journalists should gather months before Election Day such as the laws about photographing election sites, obtaining public records and how to prepare to cover potential protests.

How will social media platforms respond to election misinformation? It isn’t clear

Major social media platforms have policies that prohibit spreading falsehoods about elections. But their enforcement of these policies varies and is hard to track. Advocates are calling for platforms to take proactive steps to limit election misinformation and haven’t been satisfied with the response. Misinformation is still evident across the major platforms. We explained our findings about policies by Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube in a story.

Why many voters in Arizona, Missouri will use voting centers, not precincts, on Election Day

Vote centers were pioneered by Larimer County in Colorado in 2003 to reduce costs and give voters more convenient choices. Vote centers are now allowed in 18 states including Arizona. St Louis County, Missouri transitioned to vote centers in 2020 due to pandemic-related shortages for polling sites and poll workers. We explain the benefits and potential pitfalls of vote centers in a story.

This story was updated Aug. 2, 2022.

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Political Extremism in the Public Square: A resource for journalists and voters