Trump and far-right users claim midterm voter fraud before votes are even counted
- Even before polls have closed, far-right internet forums are awash with baseless allegations of fraud.
- Trump has written several posts online suggesting fraud is afoot, urging people to protest.
- The past few years of voter fraud claims have ripened the ground for similar conspiracies to spread.
Even before polls closed and many states began publishing vote tallies on Tuesday, far-right users of Telegram channels and fringe forums were spreading conspiracy theories and eager to declare mid-term elections. – fraudulent money order.
Online spaces dedicated to supporting former President Donald Trump or believing in QAnon are filled with people who tend to be primed to follow and spread baseless conspiracy theories. On Election Day, these channels and forums lit up with false claims of voter fraud – with many users still spreading the debunked claim that Trump was cheated out of winning the 2020 election, along with other forms of misinformation. like anti-vaccine lies.
Much of the false allegations and baseless conspiracy theories circulating in far-right online spaces about Tuesday’s midterm elections surround Arizona’s Maricopa County, which experienced a “technical glitch” more early in the day which led to some votes not being tabulated correctly, according to CNN.
Maricopa County officials — including the chairman of its board of supervisors, who is a Republican — said about 20% of polling places were having trouble. Around mid-afternoon, county officials followed up with another statement saying they had identified the issue, according to NRPand changed the printer settings on the vote tabulators to fix it.
Although county officials said those votes would still be counted after the polls closed, a volley of far-right commentators and politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene seized on the issue to spread baseless allegations of voter fraud. Some well-followed right-wing commentators have also shared videos of Election Day scenes in Arizona — such as officials painstakingly explaining what’s going on with voting machines — and added suggestive descriptions involving fraud. At least one election denial group, 2020 is Nullified, is said to have already planned election protests tonight in several Arizona countries.
Trump posted a series of posts on Truth Social on Tuesday afternoon claiming without evidence that fraud was taking place and falsely suggesting that the “same ‘voter fraud’ that happened in 2020” was happening with this election. .
“Maricopa County in Arizona looks like a complete disaster for voter integrity,” Trump wrote to his audience of 4.5 million followers. “Another big voter tabulation problem in Arizona. Sound familiar???” he wrote in another post.
Trump has also previously suggested that voter fraud is happening in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and urged his followers to “Protest, Protest, Protest!” in Detroit. A Michigan judge has already dismissed a lawsuit alleging election fraud, writing in an opinion that the baseless lawsuit “raised a false flag of election law violations.”
Far-right spaces are flooded with relentless election lies and ‘civil war’ vows
On Telegram, many messages have gained traction that explicitly imply or claim that election fraud is taking place, without providing any evidence. Far-right Telegram user BioClandestine, who rose to prominence for popularizing the bogus conspiracy theory that the The United States was developing biological weapons in Ukraine, made baseless claims this afternoon that Maricopa County was deliberately delaying elections so they could “commit voter fraud”.
Other popular telegrammers in the far-right sphere vaguely claimed that the Liberals would “cause massive fraud” without pointing the finger at anything in particular. QAnon influencer Jordan Sather made the unsubstantiated speculation that “many frauds” could come to light on Tuesday. The channels, which typically operate as far-right echo chambers, are inundated with constant allegations of voter fraud.
A popular QAnon conspirator with over 70,000 followers has repeatedly made baseless claims predicting there will be fraud committed through a myriad of outrageous methods.
“All assets will be deployed tomorrow. False flags, delayed vote count, burst pipes, dead voters, fake ballots, rigged electronic voting systems,” the user wrote in a post that has been viewed over 130 000 times. “Tomorrow they commit treason for the second time.”
Fringe forums for Trump supporters are also lit up with baseless claims and speculation about voter fraud, with some users suggesting they’d start a civil war if there were “no red tide and a bunch of cheating”.
A slew of baseless conspiracy theories beyond the catch-all of “vote fraud” have also gained traction in far-right circles, including the bizarre and unfounded allegation that any polling station with nearby Wi-Fi networks could be involved in fraud.
Disinformation and extremism experts have long warned that election myths and lies, which far-right actors and Trump have propagated for years, have made this midterm election season particularly vulnerable to spread. election-related lies. The vote also came amid political violence, just two weeks after a conspiracy theorist attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer and fractured his skull while allegedly looking for Pelosi.