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This Photo Of Senate Chamber Assistants Carrying Ballots Has Gone Viral But The Captions Are Wrong

A photographer who snapped a photo of the moment clarified that these women were not "saving" the votes.

Last updated on January 8, 2021, at 2:23 p.m. ET

Posted on January 8, 2021, at 1:53 p.m. ET

Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

A photo is circulating on social media showing US Senate Chamber assistants carrying the ballot boxes that hold the Electoral College votes cementing Joe Biden's victory in the presidential race.

But the caption you're seeing with it is incorrect.

There are multiple tweets with thousands of interactions saying that the below image shows the assistants transporting the votes as insurrectionist mobs infiltrated the Capitol on Wednesday.

The tweets came from a wide variety of accounts, including verified ones.

But this is incorrect.

The moment captured in the photo was taken before the riot reached the building as the Senate and the House were gathering for a joint session to certify the votes.

Caroline Brehman is a photojournalist who works in Washington for Roll Call. She was in the Capitol that day and took this photo from a slightly different angle of the assistants moving the votes.

Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

Chamber assistants carry Electoral College ballot boxes during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.

"This photo was taken BEFORE the Capitol had been infiltrated," Brehman told BuzzFeed News.

"The Electoral College votes are always carried to the House chamber for the VP to count. These women were not 'saving' the votes."

She said her photo was taken around 12:57 p.m. The mobs didn't push down the barriers around the Capitol until about 1:15 p.m. and there's video of Sen. James Lankford being alerted at 2:13 p.m. that they had entered the building.

A spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Schumer's office also confirmed the photo was taken before the riot entered the building.

That's not to downplay the assistants' role on Wednesday. In addition to being an important part of business in the Capitol, they were trapped along with everyone else during the attempted coup.

Sen. Jeff Merkley tweeted a photo of the boxes, safe and sound, on Wednesday, saying "floor staff" had grabbed them.

Electoral college ballots rescued from the Senate floor. If our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob.

Twitter: @SenJeffMerkley

It's unclear who exactly gathered and moved the boxes amid the chaos, but we know they remained safe and were brought out again to, finally, certify the vote.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.