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Voters fill in their ballots at a polling place in New York on Nov. 2, 2021. (AP) Voters fill in their ballots at a polling place in New York on Nov. 2, 2021. (AP)

Voters fill in their ballots at a polling place in New York on Nov. 2, 2021. (AP)

Michael Majchrowicz
By Michael Majchrowicz November 9, 2022

No evidence of fraud in case of NY man who incorrectly used ballot-marking device

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The machine referenced in the claim is called AutoMark and is made by the company Election Systems and Software. It’s used to electronically mark and fill in ballots for those who may be physically incapable of doing so. It does not tabulate ballots.

In a video that spread across social media on Election Day, a frustrated New York voter described his difficulties submitting a ballot through a scanner.

"I just tried to vote and this happened," read text in the video. "I clearly marked Lee Zeldin for governor. I go and scan my ballot and it fails to read the ballot. Poll worker tells me to take the ballot back and darken the circles. I did even tho they were fine. I go and scan the ballot again and it says the ballot has already been scanned."

The video shows a screen on the scanner alerting the user that no selection has been made in the governor’s race. The man ejects his ballot and holds it up to the camera to show a filled-in circle next to Zeldin’s name.

"Clearly voted," the man says after blaming "f— Democrats."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s and Instagram’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on their News Feeds. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

PolitiFact was unable to reach a spokesperson for the New York State Board of Elections on Nov. 8. But The Associated Press investigated and reported that the machine in the video is called AutoMark, an electronic ballot-marking device made by Elections Systems & Software, an electronic voting systems company based in Nebraska.

The AutoMark machine, as seen in this video, is not  a vote tabulator.

"The social media post appears to show a New York voter attempting to place a hand marked ballot, which is a ballot marked with a pen or pencil, into an AutoMark," ES&S spokesperson Katina Granger told PolitiFact in an email. "The AutoMark is an assistive ballot marking device used by several counties in New York for ADA voters. It is not a ballot tabulator. Voters using this device should receive an unmarked ballot from the poll worker, which voters use to mark their ballot."

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In the event a voter places a hand-marked ballot in an AutoMark, Granger said, the machine will alert the voter they are feeding a ballot that has already been filled out. At that point, the voter would need to consult with a poll worker so that their ballot can be spoiled and they receive a new one.

The New York State Board of Elections website says the machine is used as a "ballot marking device designed to provide privacy and accessibility to voters who are blind, vision-impaired, or have a disability or condition that would make it difficult or impossible to mark a ballot (manually by hand)."

Even when AutoMark machines are used correctly, voters still must feed ballots into a secondary machine on site that will count them.

So, in this case, if the user had already marked his ballot, there was nothing the AutoMark machine could do. 

According to the AP, the man said he left without voting. He said he didn’t know he was feeding his ballot to a ballot-marking device.

Our ruling

A video suggested that a New York voter’s inability to submit his ballot through a scanner suggested his vote wasn’t being counted because the voting machine was broken. The man blamed Democrats.

But elections officials said that the machine shown was not a vote tabulator but a device designed to help voters with visual impairments or other disabilities mark their ballots. We rate claims this video shows a broken voting machine False.

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No evidence of fraud in case of NY man who incorrectly used ballot-marking device

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