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Reports are circulating that 11,000 people voted for Harambe to become the next president of the United States. While people are understandably upset at the prospect of so many Americans throwing their votes away on a tired internet meme, there’s little evidence to suggest people wrote in the dead gorilla on their ballot—at least at that volume.
11,000 people voted for Harambe. Let me remind you that Harambe is a dead gorilla.
Those 11,000 votes could have saved our country.
— Laura (@5sose31d) November 9, 2016
it’s honestly so disgusting that 11,000 people could write in a vote for harambe and take the privilege of voting as a joke
— isha (@ishashah26) November 9, 2016
DISTURBING REPORT: More than 14,000 people have wrote in Harambe as the next President of the United States.
— TheAnonMessage (@TheAnonnMessage) November 9, 2016
BuzzFeed traces the “11,000” figure back to this tweet by @JayJazzi, which has been retweeted more than 58,000 times. Reached for comment, the man behind the handle, 24-year-old Canadian Jeffrey Otingo, said he saw the figure mentioned during online news broadcasts during the election.
Harambe had 11,000 votes.
11,000 people voted for a dead gorilla.
Let that sink in.
— [J]ayJChillin (@JayJazzi) November 9, 2016
There’s nothing out there to confirm that statistic, however, and as BuzzFeed notes, it’s highly unlikely given that write-ins are prohibited in nine states. In the majority of states where write-in votes are allowed, candidates must still file paperwork in advance to ensure their votes get tallied and not tossed together in an “other” category. And if you look at Google Trends, interest in Harambe has been on a steady decline for months, making such a coordinated effort highly unlikely.
Then again, stranger things happened Tuesday night.
Austin Powell is the former managing editor of the Daily Dot. His work focuses on the intersection of entertainment and technology. He previously served as a music columnist for the Austin Chronicle and is the co-author of The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology.