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Viral Video of Man Burning Trump Ballots Is Totally Fake

Shots from a viral video falsely claiming to show ballots for President Donald Trump being set on fire
Gif: Twitter

Have you seen that viral video of a man supposedly burning about 80 ballots marked for Donald Trump? The footage has been circulating on Twitter and Facebook over the past 48 hours and the president’s son, Eric Trump, even retweeted the video. But it’s completely fake.

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The viral video, which was first debunked by CNN, appeared on social media platforms on Tuesday, though it’s still not clear who created the deceptive footage. The ballots in the video are actually sample ballots that anyone can obtain, not official ballots used in elections.

The names on the ballots indicate that they’re sample ballots from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and election officials in that city say the sheets of paper don’t include barcode markings that would be visible on proper ballots. The city released a public statement on Tuesday evening after it was made aware of the video.

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A concerned citizen shared a video with us that ostensibly shows someone burning ballots. They are NOT official ballots, they are sample ballots. See the attached freeze frame image and photo of the official ballots, which have the bar codes,” the city wrote on its website.

Sample ballots from a viral video (left) and what real ballots look like in Virginia, complete with bar code markings (right)
Sample ballots from a viral video (left) and what real ballots look like in Virginia, complete with bar code markings (right)
Image: Twitter/City of Virginia Beach

Whoever made the video clearly wanted to sow doubt and confusion around the electoral process during a year when President Trump has falsely claimed that mail-in voting would lead to widespread fraud. The man behind the camera can be heard saying, “fuck Trump” and “you gotta do what you gotta do,” as he places the sample ballots in a plastic bag.

“Got around eighty,” the man says before putting lighter fluid on the bag and setting it on fire. He then gives a middle finger to the burning bag.

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“You work at the, uh, mail... or polling place, you gotta do what you gotta do,” the anonymous man can be heard saying in an accent that’s tough to place.

“Yeah, fuck Trump,” the man says again before squirting more fluid on the fire.

The fake video was quote-tweeted by Eric Trump on Wednesday but the account that originally posted the video has been suspended. The video has been flagged as fake on Facebook, but it’s still available to watch on the social media platform.

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Pro-Trump conspiracy theory websites like Gateway Pundit published the original video on Wednesday, but hedged by claiming that no one knows where the ballots came from. In fact, we do know where those sample ballots are from because we can google the names on the right side of the ballot.

For example, a quick search for “Rosemary A. Wilson” reveals she’s a member of the Virginia Beach City Council. The video is grainy since it’s been shared and reshared so many times on various social media platforms, but you can do the same with other names on the ballot, like Brandon C. Hutchins and Nadine Marie Paniccia. All three were running for Virginia Beach City Council in Tuesday’s election.

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Fake viral video of sample ballots from Virginia Beach
Fake viral video of sample ballots from Virginia Beach
Image: Twitter

The Gateway Pundit wrote a follow-up post about the incident, noting that the account Eric Trump had retweeted had been deleted but didn’t include any comment from the City of Virginia Beach.

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President Trump and his supporters are waging an information war online to cast doubt on the election, which still hasn’t been declared for either side. Joe Biden currently leads in the electoral vote count, but hasn’t secured the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Biden currently has 264 electoral votes and Trump has 214, according to Fox News. The crucial swing states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada are still tabulating their results.

Whoever burned the ballots in Virginia Beach may not be in trouble with officials who oversee elections in the state, but law enforcement still wants to speak with the man who made the video. The problem, funnily enough, is that this video likely breaks the law because it’s an uncontrolled burn near a bunch of flammable materials like dry leaves.

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Fire investigators are looking into the illegal burning,” the city wrote on its website.

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

Trump supporters have a fascinating way of complaining about something and then taking the same thing they’re complaining about to another level.

“Dem Drmocrates be takin’ my Trump signs offa my propertay!!!!”
Florida man stole bulldozer, ran down Biden signs in neighbors’ yards

“AnteeeFah and BLM is a terrorist orgee-nization, bring in the Military!!!”
Far-Right Militants Attempt to Kidnap Democratic Michigan Governor

“Why hasn’t Barr arrested Biden? ...We’re sure he’s done something illegal.”
Trump Extorted Ukraine
Trump Obstructed Justice, Multiple Times
Trump Misused Foundation Funds
Trump Campaign Laundered $170M in Spending
Trump Has Been Pocketing Campaign Money
....and using Campaign Money to Hush Affairs
Trump Tampered with and Intimidated Witnesses
Trump and Family Violated the Hatch Act Dozens of Times
Trump’s Entire Family has been Regularly Ignoring Subpoenas
Trump and Friends have been Embezzling Money from Wall Project
Trump Hired a Shady Postmaster General to Undercut the Election
Trump is Currently Obstructing State Election Laws
...Just to name a few instances.

Here’s another nice bunch of wonderful things Trump Supporters have done to defend their beliefs....but Democrats are such scum:

Trump Supporter attacks mother and 12-year-old with flagpole
Trump Supporter brings gun to polls
Trump Supporter shoots up an El Paso Walmart
Another Trump Supporter in El Paso tries to commit mass shooting
Trump Supporter mails pipe bombs to Democratic Leaders
Trump Supporter makes 1000s of threatening Phone calls to Democrats

I’ll stop now, but let me mention one last thing. My home state of FL, you see nothing but Trump signs, Trump flags, and Annoying Assholes with Trump’d out pickup trucks running around town. But where are all the Biden Signs and Flags? Florida is still about 50/50 for both candidates, but nobody wants to fly a flag for Biden. I’ll tell you why. I wanted to put a Biden flag on my Trump, and maybe a few stickers poking fun at the President....but it’s not worth risking my safety.

Trump supporters can express their political views, full well knowing they won’t be attacked by Democrats....WORST they will suffer is someone stealing their sign. But I have kids, and I know that f I express MY political views, I probably WILL be attacked by a Trump Supporter. I could be run off the road, I could be vandalized, assaulted, or my kids could be shot in the back seat. Trump supporters are despicable scum, regardless how they project on Democrats.