Facts Matter: Arizona election database wasn't deleted and Biden isn't a hologram

  • Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted May 6 by contractors working for the company Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix. Stories circulating online incorrectly claim the election database in Maricopa County has been deleted.

    Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted May 6 by contractors working for the company Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix. Stories circulating online incorrectly claim the election database in Maricopa County has been deleted. Associated Press

Updated 5/22/2021 7:22 PM

The technology company Cyber Ninjas was tasked last month with conducting an audit of election results in Maricopa County, Arizona, ordered by Republican state senators.

On May 15, former President Donald Trump weighed in.


"The entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!" Trump wrote in a statement.

That's false, according to PolitiFact.com. There is no evidence any databases were illegally deleted.

Three days before Trump's statement, a post on the audit's Twitter account said the county "deleted a directory full of election databases from the 2020 election cycle days before the election equipment was delivered to the audit."

The Maricopa County Elections Department disputed that claim in a memo, stating, "the original database folder on the 'EMSPrimary' server was not deleted or otherwise tampered with during packaging and delivery."

The Maricopa County board of supervisors, in an email to the state Senate president, said the auditors just didn't know where to find the information.

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The Twitter post "is demonstrably false; the only thing it does demonstrate is your auditors' incompetence," the email said.

Chickens didn't eat ballots

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer recently spoke out about "unhinged" lies since the beginning of the Arizona Republican-led audit.

"The craziest conspiracy theory by far is that one of the board of supervisors who happens to own a very large chicken farm took ballots from the 2020 election, fed them to 165,000 chickens and then had them incinerated," he said Tuesday during an interview on CNN.

What actually happened was a March 6 fire at the family business of Maricopa County District 4 Supervisor Clint Hickman destroyed two barns and killed 166,000 hens, according to Snopes.com.

A story published on the website Gateway Pundit said, "After Finding Shredded Ballots in the Dumpster Earlier Today -- A Mysterious Fire Breaks Out at Maricopa County Official's Farm."


But fire district officials told Snopes an investigation found no sign of wrongdoing or ballots being destroyed.

Biden clip not a hologram

A video clip of President Joe Biden in March, just before he boarded a helicopter ... on the White House lawn, was the subject of a false claim that an interview with reporters was fake and filmed in front of a green screen.

Now that clip is part of an eight-hour video filled with false claims about Biden. Both the green screen claim and the eight-hour video were debunked by PolitiFact.

Just two hours into the video, in footage of Biden talking to reporters, the top of his head seems to disappear as his white hair blends in with white clouds in the background.

"This is not Joe Biden making an appearance," the video host claims. "What you're actually seeing here is a holographic image of Joe Biden being transmitted from behind the scenes."

Other video and images from the event show Biden was present.

Voice of America reporter Steve Herman, who was at the news conference, said on Twitter in response to the rumors, "I was the one holding the lighter-colored fuzzy microphone and thus literally in front of @POTUS on the South Lawn," he said. "It's all real."

Cone-shaped skulls human

A recent Facebook post, shared more than 500 times, claims a collection of 3,000-year-old elongated skulls found nearly 100 years ago originated from aliens, not humans.

The May 1 post includes a video of the oddly shaped craniums and the comment, "Check the eye sockets 100% alien."

USA Today reached out to the Facebook user who first shared the clip, who said, "the video was made by a local boy and looks 100% real."

But this claim is actually 100% false.

In 1928, archaeologist Julio Tello discovered hundreds of funnel-shaped skulls in Peru.

"The eye sockets are normal and perfectly within the range of human variation and look like eye sockets of other human skulls from Peru," University of Wyoming anthropology professor Melissa S. Murphy told USA Today.

The cone-like shape of the skulls is the result of a deliberate process referred to as cranial deformation, which alters the growth and development of the head in infants, according to USA Today. The head is bound with cloth or bands to reshape the skull.

People on the south coast of Peru "have engaged in this practice for thousands of years," Murphy said. "Deliberate head shaping is a form of cultural modification of the body that marks different things, like one's identity, a rite of passage, (or) an occupation."

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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