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A screen grab shared on Instagram showed a picture of New Mexico’s secretary of state website reporting more than 17 million registered voters, an impossible number given the state’s population. But the numbers amounted to “placeholder” data being employed while the website’s election results portion was being tested, election officials said.
New Mexico has about 1.36 million registered voters, which the website did reflect on Election Day.
Could a state of 2 million people really have 17 million registered voters?
But an image shared out of context on social media suggests the New Mexico secretary of state’s office proclaimed that many people could feasibly vote in the Nov. 8 election.
"Hey Maggie, how and why is your website showing 17 million voters in New Mexico when we only have a population of 2 million?" the Nov. 7 post said, referring to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
Accompanying the text was a screen grab showing what appeared to be a mobile version of the secretary of state website. The picture captures a web graphic titled "Unofficial Results" for the Nov. 8 election. Under the heading "Statewide Voter Turnout," it shows zero ballots cast with the number of registered voters at "17,284,921."
"This shows issues already within your system and we want answers!" the Instagram post caption continued. "Explain it! This is why we need (Audrey Trujillo) to be the next Secretary of State! #newmexit"
Oliver, a Democrat, is running for re-election against Republican challenger Trujillo.
The post was flagged as part of Instagram’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
(Screengrab from Instagram)
New Mexico has a population of about 2 million, with approximately 1,362,028 registered voters as of Oct. 31. But Alex Curtas, a spokesperson for New Mexico’s secretary of state, said the image being shared on social media was taken while the site was in test mode and was not intended to represent actual data.
In fact, Curtas said, the site had a "Testing in Progress" disclaimer saying so.
"The election night reporting (ENR) website was in test mode and had mock data for the last few weeks as we ran a test election with the county clerks in preparation for (Nov. 8)," Curtas told PolitiFact in an email. "We of course are now finished with that test and the ENR site is now prepped for Election Day and the ‘mock data’ message has been taken down."
An archived version of the webpage from Oct. 21 did show the "17 million" registered voters figure along with "Testing in Progress" written across the site.
Curtas said the stand-in figure remained on the site until the morning of Nov. 6 by mistake but has been updated and now reflects the actual voter registration number in New Mexico, about 1.36 million.
We rate the claim that this image shows the New Mexico secretary of state counted more than 17 million registered voters False.
New Mexico Secretary of State, "New Mexico Voter Registration Statistics Statewide by County," accessed Nov. 8, 2022
New Mexico Secretary of State, 2022 election results, accessed Nov. 8, 2022
New Mexico secretary of state, Maggie Toulouse Oliver biography, accessed Nov. 8, 2022
New Mexico secretary of state, 2022 election results test page as of Oct. 21, (archived), accessed Nov. 8, 2022
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