FACT CHECK: Were Maricopa County Ballots Destroyed in a Chicken Farm Fire?

Truth is that there was a fire at a chicken firm, owned by one of the board of supervisors where over 165,000 chickens died but the chickens were never fed shredded ballots.

The elections are long over but former President Donald Trump and supports time and again continue to claim that widespread voter fraud cost him a win in the 2020 Presidential Election. Although most of his claims have been proved to be false, conspiracy theories fail to die. Claims of voter fraud have once again come to focus because of a controversial recount in Arizona which is underway.

Now, one of the latest claims doing the rounds is that Maricopa County ballots were destroyed in a chicken firm fire. While many have been shocked to learn about this, there are many who are still confused and trying to find out the authenticity about this claim. In fact, it all started with the appearance Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer on a CNN show on Tuesday, wherein he spoke about claims of fire destroying the entire ballot of the county.

The Origin

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As the U.S. goes to poll in November, Russia, China and Iran are allegedly trying to influence the outcome (representational image) Pixabay

Last week, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer took to Twitter to express his disgust over the constant false claims being made about voter fraud involved in the November 2020 election, which included a false claim made by Trump, including an elections database in that Arizona county having been "deleted!" by county officials.

Richer's tweet immediately went viral and people started talking in between. Meanwhile, Richer made multiple appearances on CNN where he debunked claims of voter fraud involved in the November elections. There he stated that despite the elections having been over more than seven months ago conspiracy theories continue to circulate about voter fraud, driven by a recount underway in Arizona. The controversial recount is being conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a private firm hired by the Republican-led Arizona Senate, led by a supporter of Trump's election disinformation campaign alleging a massive-scale vote fraud conspiracy that supposedly cost Trump the election.

During one such appearance Richer also spoke about how many believe that one of the board of supervisors in Maricopa County, who also owns a chicken firm, took ballots from the 2020 elections and fed them to the chickens and then burnt them.

The comments since then took a different shape and became the fodder for social media users, with now many confused if such a thing really happened.

What Did Richer?

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US Elections (Representational Picture) Wikimedia Commons

Those who have been claiming and believing that a large number of ballots in Maricopa County were destroyed in a chicken firm fire just got confused between fact and fiction. Richer during his many appearances on CNN has been debunking the claims of voter fraud and in this case too something like that happened.

During an appearance on Tuesday, on the CNN primetime show 'Don Lemon Tonight,' Richer was asked about the craziest conspiracy theory about the Arizona recount that he has heard so far.

To this what Richer said what that craziest conspiracy theory about Arizona recount was that one of the board of supervisors, who own a very large chicken farm, took ballots from the 2020 election, then fed them to 165,000 chickens and finally had them incinerated. This story immediately started doing the rounds and Trump supporters started using this to claim voter fraud involved in Arizona during the last election.

What most didn't try to find out that Richer was talking about conspiracy theories and this is just of the many related to claims of voter fraud doing the rounds on social media.

That said, what actually happened is that this board member really owned a chicken firm and it also had serious fire at one of his barns when 165,000 chickens died. Richer then cleared that the idea that the chickens were fed ballots was the craziest of conspiracy theories.

"I mean, you know, and legitimate people indulge this. A prominent member of the state legislature indulged this in a conversation. And it is just, you know, what is going on here? That's facially laughable," Richer said.

Origin of the Conspiracy Theory

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Joe Biden and Donald Trump Wikimedia Commons

The chicken-ballot conspiracy theory appears to have originated with a false claim published by the pro-Trump conspiracy site Gateway Pundit, which on March 6, 2021, came up with a story where it mentioned that, "Dumpsters full of shredded ballots were located today in Maricopa County Arizona."

Moreover, Gateway Pundit too lifted the story from a Facebook post from Pinal County resident Staci Burk, who is also Trump supporter and a "Stop the Steal" activist. Burk has also filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 presidential election results but was overturned.

Burk's post stated that dumpster divers had spotted shredded ballots from behind the Maricopa County ballot tabulation center, and alleged that was evidence of election malfeasance. Richer's office has debunked the claim that time also.

On March 9, Arizona Mirror came up with a story where in Maricopa County Elections Department spokesperson Megan Gilbertson said that the shredded ballots weren't from the 2020 election.

However, the false story took a different turn this time again and many once again fell prey to the conspiracy theory. In reality, going by the state law, election officials are required to keep ballots for 24 months after an election is canvassed.

Chance would have it that on March 6, tragedy struck the family business of Maricopa County District 4 Supervisor Clint Hickman, and the "shredded ballots" conspiracy theory took a new shape thus misleading many.

A fire broke out at the farm and destroyed two barns at the Hickman's Family Farms location, which is around 50 miles west of Phoenix. In that fire, 166,000 egg-laying hens perished but Getaway Pundit used this fire to weave a whole new claim that is completely false.

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