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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Fact Check – Five Fabricated 2022 Election Conspiracy Theories ahead of Midterms

Prior to midterm elections, conspiracy theorists are urging voters to check their WiFi networks

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UNITED STATES: Uncontested claims and conspiracy theories are all the rage nowadays on social media ahead of midterm elections. The theories started seeping into the very fabric of American life, changing the ways Americans approach voting and the legitimacy of the election process, prior to the midterm elections on Tuesday.

These so-called conspiracy theories have been widely circulated on social media before the midterms. The conspiracy theories and claims are propagated by mostly right-wing politicians like Republicans or Donald Trump, and are gaining traction among right-wing voters.

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Former President Donald Trump and his fellow Republican associates seized on technical glitches in some key swing states to baselessly suggest that there had been widespread, intentional malfeasance. Trump also made false claims about mass voter fraud.

Here is a look at five critical conspiracy theories propagated by several right-wingers, which have never been substantiated with proof and, after fact-checking, stand null and false.

History Repeating Itself: Trump Alleges Mass Voter Fraud in Midterms 2022

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Former Republican President Donald Trump, who has been in the limelight as an avid proponent of spreading false claims and conspiracy theories in his rally speeches, alleged that there was mass voter fraud in the latest midterm elections of 2022. Many found this echoing his previous unproven claims of voter misconduct in the 2020 elections when he was ousted from office and replaced by Democrat candidate Joe Biden.

The business tycoon took to his Truth Social platform on Tuesday afternoon and wrote, “Same thing is happening with Voter Fraud as happened in 2020???”

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Neither did authorities find any legitimate clues to hint, least of all prove, that there had been voter fraud back in 2020, nor were there any telling signs of misconduct this year in midterms. Voter fraud is typically a localised affair, representing a tiny fraction of ballots cast in US elections.

Trump backed up his claims with proof of supposed technical difficulties in certain states. There was no evidence that any of these issues involved intentional malfeasance, let alone “voter fraud.”

Maricopa County Debunks Republican Tweets about Long Wait Times

Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, recently slammed a Republican tweet about a false claim about long lines on Election Day.

Charlie Kirk, founder and president of a right-wing organisation called Turning Point USA, tweeted on Tuesday to his 1.8 million followers, “2 hour wait minimum at most polling places in Maricopa. Democrats running elections here knew this would happen. Traffic jam by design. DONT LET THEM DO 2020 AGAIN. WAIT IN LINE AND VOTE.”

Maricopa County did not let the Republicans get away with it. Its Elections Chief, Recorder Stephen Richer, and its Board of Supervisors chairman, Bill Gates, both Republicans, said that their County is not run by Democrats.

Moreover, the country’s online wait-times showed that in dozens of voting locations, no voter stood more than five minutes in line, including some facing no delays at all.

Maricopa County said in its tweet in response to Kirk’s tweet, “No part of the tweet below is accurate. The vast majority of Vote Centers are seeing wait times under 30 minutes, and whether by tabulator or secure ballot box, all voters are being served.”

Conspiracy Brewers Ask Voters to ‘Check for WiFi’

Prior to midterm elections, conspiracy theorists are urging voters to check their WiFi networks, inside and outside the polling stations, to figure out whether any of the machines are connected to the internet, subject to tampering by a third party in any form.

“Check for Wifi connections, both inside & outside poll locations. Election machines should not be connected to the Internet. Take a screenshot to report irregularities for investigation,” read one tweet.

In reality, voting machines that actually mark the ballots cast are not typically hooked up to the internet. The larger voting machines may be connected to the internet to check for malware or other issues, but this typically occurs before voting.

Furthermore, many states use WiFi to consult electronic poll books to verify voter eligibility. However, none of these claims confirm that these machines can be rigged via the internet.

Trump and Republicans Make False Claims after Poll Book Mishap in Detroit

Following officials’ cries about a “harmless data error” in Detroit, Trump and his red associates took the opportunity to push claims of alleged fraud, riling up voters to “protest.”

Before Trump’s tactics could do much damage, the Michigan Department of State stepped in and addressed the issue, which occurred at select voting booths in Detroit and said the problem had been identified. It was duly fixed by 11 am.

Their spokesperson assured that the situation was under control and that voters were in safe hands, to be able to cast their vote freely without further technical issues. “At no point was any, was there any inability to process a voter who showed up,” he said.

Regardless of the technical error, GOP nominee for Michigan secretary of State, Kristina Karamo, falsely tweeted that there was “fraud” and “crime” taking place.

Trump weighed in on the matter and wrote on his platform, “The Absentee Ballot situation in Detroit is REALLY BAD. People are showing up to Vote only to be told, ‘sorry, you have already voted.’ This is happening in large numbers, elsewhere as well. Protest, Protest, Protest!”

Midterm Election officials in Wisconsin refute allegations that poll workers illegally filled ballots

Videos on social media allegedly showed a poll worker illegally filling out ballots, ahead of the midterms in Wisconsin.

However, the county clerk in Dane County, Wisconsin, reviewed the footage and said that the man was in fact, initialling and indicating the ward number on the back of the ballots, in preparation for voters coming in to vote.

“This process is required by law and is part of the check and balance process,” Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said in an email.

Also Read: US Midterm Elections: Republicans Are Expected To Capture the U.S. House

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