The French Election and the Amazing Vanishing Votes
The French people have spoken and re-elected President Emmanuel Macron for another 5 years. Or have they and did they? For a foreign observer, one of the oddest and most disturbing things about French presidential elections is that the ostensible results are announced the moment the polls close based only on exit polls, i.e. before the vote count has even begun! This has been going on for decades and Sunday evening was no different.
Thus, at 8pm sharp, the French public television channel France2 announced that Emmanuel Macron had been reelected with an estimated 58.2% of the vote as compared to 41.8% for Marine Le Pen. This estimate would shortly thereafter be revised to 58.5% to 41.5%. A little over one hour later, however, France2’s broadcast would try its hand at more American-style election coverage by showing the actual vote count, which, as the presenter noted, was being directly provided to France2 by the French Ministry of the Interior. And, at roughly 9:10pm, it turns out that Marine Le Pen was in fact ahead with 13,899,494 votes to Emmanuel Macron’s 13,697,236. See the screen cap below and note the strange contrast to the estimate visible in the lower right corner.
The presenter was quick to point out that the trend could be reversed over the course of the evening, since, he said, rural precincts, which are more favorable to Marine Le Pen, were reporting first. Just a couple of minutes later, however, more than a million votes has been added to the on-screen count and far from the trend being reversed, Le Pen had expanded her lead, now having 14,603,774 votes to Macron’s 14,388,938. See the below screencap.
France2 did not bother to provide the percentage of precincts reporting. But if we compare the total number of votes in this vote tally (28,992,712) to the total number of votes in the Ministry of the Interior’s final tally (32,077,401), we can see that over 90% of the votes had already been reported! And yet somehow the Ministry of Interior’s final tally, which is shown below, managed exactly to match the 58.5% to 41.5% estimate. This is in fact a mathematical impossibility. Unless somehow Marine Le Pen lost votes. And, lo and behold, she did! The Ministry of the Interior’s final tally shows 13,297,760 votes for Marine Le Pen: more than a million votes less than her on-screen tally at roughly 9:15pm on election night.
France2’s full election night broadcast is available here.
The Ministry of Interior’s final tally is here.
France2 now claims that the numbers shown in the live vote tally were erroneous and the result of a “software error.”