Efforts continue by President Donald Trump and his team to challenge the outcome of the election. Trump has refused to concede and while he has publicly – and baselessly – argued that the election results show widespread voter fraud favoring Democrats, the president has also reportedly queried advisers about additional ways to stall or stop his departure from office. Those options are increasingly unlikely yet Trump’s campaign team has also continued to file lawsuits and recounts in key states challenging how the vote-counting process happened. Similarly, those lawsuits have been unsuccessful. What evidence is there for the main allegations they are making of fraud and irregularities?
Firstly, President Trump has repeated unproven claims that battleground states have recorded more votes than registered voters – it’s a rumor that has been circulating in various forms since the election. The latest allegations focus on Michigan, where the Trump campaign says voter turnout in some areas was higher than 100%, an outcome known as an “overvote”. The source for this claim appears to be a document posted by former Republican congressional candidate Russ Ramsland. It lists 19 areas that appear to have a voter turnout high than 100%.
However, these precincts are all in the state of Minnesota – not Michigan. Do they even stack up as precincts where impossibly high levels of voting took place? Top of the list is Benville Township with an alleged 350% turnout. It’s a small place, and according to electoral records, 63 voted out of a total of 71 registered. That’s a turnout of 89%. Other precincts on the list were also checked, and all have them had turnouts below 100%. So the list is wrong on all counts: it’s the wrong state, and the turnout figures (for these 19 Minnesota precincts) are all wrong as well.
President Trump has also claimed there were “far more votes than people” in Michigan’s largest city Detroit. However, a quick check of the election results for Detroit shows that turnout in the city was just under 50%. There have been other claims on social media that more people voted than were registered in Wisconsin, but that’s because they were sharing an out-of-date figure for voter registrations in the state.
Secondly, there have also been a number of allegations from President Trump and others about votes for his rival, Joe Biden, suddenly appearing in large numbers during the counting process. In his news conference on 19 November, Mr. Giuliani repeated a claim suggesting that thousands of extra ballots had arrived very early in the morning at a Detroit counting center. Mr. Giuliani’s remarks were based on a claim made by an election worker, alleging she saw two vans which were meant to bring food, but she says she “never saw any food coming out of the vans, coincidentally it was announced on the news that Michigan had found over 100,000 more ballots – not even two hours after the last van left.”
However, this claim, and other allegations, were rejected in a ruling on 13 November, with the judge deciding they weren’t credible. There’ve been other claims from the Republicans about sudden spikes in votes favoring the Democrats in key battleground states – such as Michigan and Wisconsin – implying fraud could be involved. These spikes can be easily accounted for in the timing of the release of large batches of results for big cities like Milwaukee and Detroit, which are always skewed heavily Democratic. In some cases, there have been clerical errors or software glitches, which have been corrected after being discovered.
Thirdly, president Trump’s legal team also repeated a claim made by him that there had been an issue with the voting system used in some battleground states which supposedly allowed millions of votes to be flipped from him to his rival, Mr. Biden. There is no evidence for this, and none has been provided by the president’s legal team.
The president is echoing accusations made on the conservative news outlet One America News Network (OANN) about Dominion voting machines, which have been widely used across the US in this election. An OANN report refers to an “unaudited analysis of data” obtained from an election monitoring group, Edison Research, which allegedly showed millions of votes were flipped. However, the company’s president, Larry Rosin, said: “Edison Research has produced no such report and we have no evidence of any voter fraud.” Edison Research provides many of the major US networks with exit poll data and results. Dominion Voting Systems has released a statement saying: “Claims about Dominion switching or deleting votes are 100% false.”
It appears all these efforts are aimed at one goal: energizing the Trumpian base by delegitimizing not only Biden but the election process itself. The long-term implications are momentous. The US is already bitterly divided, as demonstrated by the large voter turnout on both sides in the election. This division will only deepen the more Trump presses his claims and signals he won’t go away silently. This continued fracturing of the US would prevent Biden from achieving one of the main goals he set out in his victory speech: bringing Republicans and Democrats together. If half the country buys into his claims of a stolen election, the real danger is the erosion of democracy in the US as we know it.
Feature Image: LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS