Yes, Biden won with only 16% of U.S. counties. No, that's not mathematically impossible.

Along with fraud allegations that don't even have enough evidence to make it into a courtroom, much less win a single case, people who want the outcome of the election to be different keep sharing all kinds of statistics designed to make Biden's win look fishy.

The problem is that none of these purportedly suspicious numbers are actually suspicious at all.

Let's start by looking at county counts. Right now there are lots of posts going around comparing the vote counts and counties won between Obama, Trump, and Biden, making it seem like it's just not possible for Biden to have won the popular vote with the number of counties he won.



First of all, the numbers appear to be off. Biden, according to the most recent count from the Associated Press, won 527 counties, not 477. That's still far fewer than Trump won, but it doesn't matter.

According to the U.S. Census, more than half of U.S. residents live in just 143 counties (or 4.6% of total counties). Counties vary vastly in size and population, from fewer than 100 people to more than 10 million per county. In fact, Los Angeles County alone has more people than 41 whole states, and more than the 11 least populous states combined, which have a total of 416 counties between them.

So yeah, Biden could have won even fewer counties than the 500+ he carried and still have come out on top in the popular vote. Especially since urban areas tend to vote Democrat in higher numbers than Republican.

As far as the rally visuals go? One word—pandemic. Biden didn't want crowds because...pandemic. This one's really not hard.

And regarding the higher vote totals, well, yes. The U.S. has grown by more than 27 million since Obama was elected in 2008 and there was record turnout of voters in this election to boot. In fact, there were so many more voters this year, Biden could have lost the popular vote and still had more votes than Obama got when he won. Because that's just how numbers work.

And as in every election, a certain percentage of voters only showed up to vote for their presidential candidate of choice, ignoring the down-ballot candidates. Considering the fact that Trump never even reached a 50% approval rating and was one of the least popular presidents in the past 50 years, people turning out just to mark a ballot for Biden isn't a stretch in any way.

The numbers totally work out. This map breaks them down visually. Each dot represents 250,000 votes, distributed approximately where they came from. Breaking it down this way makes it easy to see where population centers are located in the country and how the areas with large cities tend to swing Democrat.

imgs.xkcd.com

That map looks a lot different than this one, which makes the U.S. look far redder than it is in reality. (To be clear, I'm not sure for which election this map was made—there were some of these going around in 2016 as well, so it may have been from that election —but the basic gist in the morphing map below is correct. Land doesn't vote. People do.)

(You have to push the play button if it's not changing for you automatically.)

Coloring each county one color or the other as if they were all equal in population paints a false picture. The blue and red dots that the map morphs to presents a more accurate (though of course not completely accurate) portrait of how Americans vote than coloring in the whole thing. Anyone who has driven across Nebraska or Montana or most of Nevada knows that there are vast expanses of land with virtually no people for hours.

Another interesting statistic: The counties that Biden carried account for 70% of the U.S. economy. According to the Wall Street Journal, the 84% of counties that Trump won accounts for just 30% of the U.S. GDP, while the 16% that Biden won make up 70% of it. Even when Trump won the election in 2016, the counties he won only accounted for 36% of the economy.

While we're here and looking at election math, let's go ahead and nix another misnomer that's floating around. Does "Simple Math" show that Biden claimed millions more votes than there were eligible voters who voted in the election?

Umm, no.

This meme looks pretty fancy with the colors and the numbers and the dramatic "AWAKE YET?" But there's a very basic error here.

That "2020 Election Turnout Rate" of 66.2% doesn't mean 66.2% of registered legal voters, it means 66.2% of eligible voters. Super appreciate that they gave the source, but if you actually look up that WaPo article, it very clearly says "As a share of the voting-eligible population," not "registered voters." All registered voters are eligible voters, but not all eligible voters are registered voters. The eligible voting population is approximately 239.2 million, so the math in this calculation falls apart right where the multiplication starts. If you replace the registered vote total with 239.2 million, you come out with the original 158.4 million votes that were certified.

But the funniest thing about this one is just...really? Do people really think that our multi-step, multi-check electoral processes wouldn't immediately catch 13 or 17 million illegitimate votes if they actually existed? Do people really think that this very basic counting epiphany more than a month after the election took place, and after it has been checked and verified, even makes sense?

These numbers are all out there for everyone to calculate for themselves, but if people aren't calculating with the right variables, then they're going to come up with shoddy conclusions like these ones. And they'll accept it because it backs up their belief that the election was fraudulent.

Please, if you see things like this, check the details. Read through the responses, as most misinformation usually get corrected by someone fairly quickly. Look at the information for yourself. Ask questions if it doesn't seem like it makes sense. Don't believe a meme just because it supports your belief, and if you see it and know it's wrong, correct it. Misinformation is rampant and literally tearing at the fabric of our nation. It's up to all of us to battle it when we see it.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

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Prior to European colonization of North America, millions of bison roamed the Great Plains. By the turn of the 20th century, those numbers had dropped to less than 1,000. The deliberate decimation of buffalo herds was a direct attack on the Native American people, who colonizers saw as an obstacle to their "Manifest Destiny," and who the U.S. government engaged in a systematic attempt to eliminate or force into docile submission.

For thousands of years, bison were a sacred, inseparable part of life for Indigenous tribes of the Great Plains, used for food, shelter, utensils, and clothing, in addition to spiritual and emotional well-being. Wiping out the bison population nearly wiped out the Native tribes they were connected to.

Though bison numbers have increased significantly thanks to conservation efforts, governments are still grappling with the ugly legacy, and some municipalities are taking steps to try to repair some of the damage done. As one example, the city of Denver, Colorado has taken the step of giving some of the city's bison population managed by Denver Parks and Recreation to Native American tribes engaged in bison conservation efforts.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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