Pro-Fidesz Magyar Nemzet claims that the story about the bag of partially burnt ballots recently found near Transylvania’s Marosvásárhely was already written in early February by Telex, the first Hungarian news site to report on the incident. According to the paper, this proves that the whole story is part of the opposition’s smear campaign. Telex refutes the accusations.
As we reported on Wednesday, a bag of discarded and partially burnt postal ballots was found in an illegal rubbish dump in Romania’s Jedd, near Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mures). According to HVG‘s on-site correspondent, all the ballot papers were cast for opposition parties. Since then, the National Election Office has filed a criminal complaint and the Romanian police are conducting a full investigation. Opposition parties say governing Fidesz has been caught conducting election fraud. Péter Márki-Zay, the six-party opposition alliance’s PM candidate, even called for all the mail-in votes to be destroyed, saying that they have been compromised.
However, pro-Fidesz news site Magyar Nemzet speculates that the whole scandal was a campaign trick staged by the opposition. According to the portal, the metadata in the article of government-critical Telex – which was among the first to report the news on the trashed ballots- suggests that it was written much earlier.
When looking at the article’s metadata using Facebook’s Meta for Developers function, Magyar Nemzet found that the portal uploaded the article about the vote slips as early as February 1st.
This alleged mistake has since been fixed by Telex, however, Magyar Nemzet calls it particularly interesting that the article could have been written in February, while the mail-in slips were received by voters in Transylvania on March 15th the earliest.
When asked about the incident by pro-Fidesz organization Foundation for Transparent Journalism, the editor-in-chief of Telex, Szabolcs Dull, responded that “the article appeared on Transtelex at 8:55 this morning” and that “there was a technical error with the dating when the article was received in our editorial system, it jumped back to an accidental date, which we fixed immediately.”
Later, Telex issued a short statement also citing a technical error.
“The news, which first appeared on Transtelex, the Transylvanian site of the portal on Thursday morning, had a technical error with the datestamp when it was uploaded to the Telex editorial system, jumping back to an accidental date, which was immediately fixed,” the news site said.
The Transtelex article, as well as the events documented in it are new, so they were posted on Telex as news, the error only affected the date itself.
According to Telex, the briefly visible coincidental date of February 1st could not have been used to produce such an article “in advance” anyway, simply because the party order of the ballot papers was drawn on February 26th, and the Election Committe approved the design of the ballot paper on March 4th.
Featured photo via Átlátszó Erdély’s Facebook page