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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 20, 2022

Indiana woman accused of of pre-marking ballots applications wasn’t accused of tampering with ballot

If Your Time is short

  • In June 2020, Janet Reed of Indiana was charged and later pleaded guilty to one count of an unauthorized absentee ballot, after she pre-checked absentee ballot applications so that voters would receive a ballot for the Democratic Party’s primary. 
  • She wasn’t accused of tampering with mail-in ballots. 

A Facebook post from a few days after the 2020 presidential election is getting fresh attention online as people share claims about a woman identified as Janet Reed. 

"Indiana woman charged for mail in voter fraud, delivered 400 ballots with Democrat box pre-checked," the Nov. 10, 2020, post says.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Reed did get into legal trouble for election-related conduct, but the headline on this post  is misleading in that the criminal case the post is referring to pertained solely to absentee ballot applications — not actual ballots.

And that becomes clearer the farther you read into the post. It goes on to say that "this individual in Indiana delivered mail in ballot applications with 400 of these mail in ballots being pre-checked Democrat before delivery."

That gets closer to the truth.

Janet Reed, a precinct committee member with the Vanderburgh County Democratic Party in Indiana, was arrested and charged in June 2020 with one count of unauthorized absentee ballot, a felony. She pleaded guilty in 2021 and was sentenced to 18 months of probation. 

She was accused of sending absentee ballot applications to more than 400 voters. On the part of the application where voters indicate whether they want to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary, Reed had pre-checked the Democratic box.

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Essentially, that would have left voters with no choice but to participate in the Democratic primary election that June, the Evansville Courier & Press reported

The county election office "received and rejected over 400 of the pre-marked applications" before the primary, the election board said in a statement, according to the Courier & Press. Vanderburgh County Clerk Carla Hayden said that her office sent replacement applications to affected voters so that they could get new absentee ballots for the primary. 

In the general election, voters can cast ballots for candidates regardless of their party affiliation.

We don’t know which voters Reed sent these applications to, or why. She refused to cooperate with investigators once she was arrested and she "refused to provide an interview regarding her involvement in this case," the Courier & Press reported, citing an arrest affidavit. We couldn’t find any other information that illuminated her motivations. 

Our ruling

A Facebook post claimed that an Indiana woman was "charged for mail in voter fraud, delivered 400 ballots with Democrat box pre-checked."

That’s partially accurate but leaves out some some important details. Reed was charged for sending voters pre-checked absentee ballot applications so that they would receive a ballot for the Democratic Party’s primary. Reed did not pre-check the actual ballots. She pleaded guilty to a felony election fraud charge.

Voters eventually got new unmarked applications.

We rate this post Half True.


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Indiana woman accused of of pre-marking ballots applications wasn’t accused of tampering with ballot

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