If you've seen this hoax going around, don't fall prey to attempted voter suppression. Pro-Trump redditors are promoting a realistic-looking 'announcement' from Hillary Clinton's campaign, claiming that it is now possible for Pennsylvania voters to "vote online" using social media.
Be wary of crap like this, folks. NO state has "online voting". Period. This is what "rigging an election" looks like. pic.twitter.com/oPUb4v3ro6— Matthew Ciszek (@mciszek) October 17, 2016
The hoax, which was debunked by Billy Penn, claims that Pennsylvania residents simply have to "Post 'Hillary' on social media with the hashtag 'Presidential Election'" on Facebook or Twitter on Election Day.
The meme was notably shared by Republican Pennsylvania councilman, Joshua Lorenz. Lorenz insisted that the attempt at voter suppression was a "joke," even though he deleted it shortly after being questioned about the post.
His higher-ups didn't think the joke was very funny and the Pennsylvania State Department felt compelled to release a statement addressing the seriousness of the claim.
The hoax was started on a conservative, Trump-supporting Reddit thread called r/The Donald. Comments on the thread indicate that the misleading image originated on image board 4chan in July of this year, so why haven't we seen it going around before now?
The people who started the hoax didn't want the image to go viral —at least not until the end of October. Hoping to confuse as many Clinton supporters as possible before the mainstream media could catch up, they gleefully plotted to keep their meme under wraps until it could do the most possible damage to democracy.
Pennsylvania has gone to the Democrats in every presidential election since 1988 and has been called a Clinton "firewall" state throughout the election year. It's no wonder that these Trump voters are attacking Pennsylvania which some have warned may be on the verge of turning red for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The claim that it is possible to use social media to vote may seem like a laughably ridiculous trick to fall for, but as the creators of this hoax so aptly recognized, young, first-time voters may not know any better.
Voter enfranchisement and education is very low this year, with many confused about voting. For example, many Texans are still unclear about their voter ID law, some North Carolina citizens are confused about early voting, and voters across the country are generally misinformed or under-informed about where to show up when to cast their ballots. Donald Trump has not been helping the matter, giving voters the wrong date for Election Day during a speech in Florida, another key, swing state.
If you see any memes, tweets, or articles on or before November 8th claiming that voting can be done on social media or online, report the images and inform your friends. Don't let the borderline criminal attempts of Trump supporters to impede democracy keep you from getting to the polls and casting your vote.
Banner image credit: Twitter, @Politico