On Nov. 7, 2020, the Associated Press, the New York Times, Fox News, and several other major news outlets called the 2020 presidential election and projected that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had defeated U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. As news of President-elect Biden's victory spread on social media, so did unsupported claims alleging voter fraud. Many of these claims were centered around Dominion Voting Systems, a company that sells voting machines and software in the United States and Canada. We will examine a few of these claims below.
Did a software glitch cause thousands of Republican votes to be marked for Democrats in Michigan? A human error resulted in a temporary miscalculation in Antrim County, Michigan, but this issue was quickly remedied.
One of the most prevalent voter fraud claims to emerge in the days following the election was the accusation that a computer glitch in a software program from Dominion Voting Systems had mistakenly counted thousands of votes for President Trump as votes for President Biden. This claim was based on a half-truth: a tabulation error did occur in Antrim County, but the problem was a result of a human error, and the mistake was quickly caught and corrected.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson disputed claims of deliberate election fraud in a statement:
In response to the false claims made by Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, the Michigan Department of State issues the following statements of fact:
- Michigan’s elections were conducted fairly, effectively and transparently and are an accurate reflection of the will of Michigan voters.
- The erroneous reporting of unofficial results from Antrim county was a result of accidental error on the part of the Antrim County Clerk. The equipment and software did not malfunction and all ballots were properly tabulated. However, the clerk accidentally did not update the software used to collect voting machine data and report unofficial results.
- Like many counties in Michigan, Antrim County uses the Dominion Voting Systems election management system and voting machines (ballot tabulators.) The county receives programming support from Election Source. Tabulators are programmed to scan hand marked, paper ballots. When machines are finished scanning the ballots, the paper ballots are retained and a totals tape showing the number of votes for each candidate in each race is printed from the machine.
- In order to report unofficial results, county clerks use election management system software to combine the electronic totals from tabulators and submit a report of unofficial results. Because the clerk did not update software, even though the tabulators counted all the ballots correctly, those accurate results were not combined properly when the clerk reported unofficial results.
- The correct results always were and continue to be reflected on the tabulator totals tape and on the ballots themselves. Even if the error in the reported unofficial results had not been quickly noticed, it would have been identified during the county canvass. Boards of County Canvassers, which are composed of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, review the printed totals tape from each tabulator during the canvass to verify the reported vote totals are correct.
- The software did not cause a misallocation of votes; it was a result of user human error. Even when human error occurs, it is caught during county canvasses.
- It is also completely false that the county had to or will have to hand count all their ballots. The ballots were properly counted by the tabulators. The county had to review the printed tabulator results from each precinct, not each individual ballot.
- As with other unofficial results reporting errors, this was an honest mistake and did not affect any actual vote totals. Election clerks work extremely hard and do their work with integrity. They are human beings, and sometimes make mistakes. However, there are many checks and balances that ensure mistakes can be caught and corrected.
On a related note, Benson also disputed claims that Republicans weren't allowed to observe the vote count, asserting that "hundreds of challengers from both parties were inside their absent voter counting board all afternoon and evening."
What About Reports of Glitches in Georgia?
There were multiple claims that software “glitches” had resulted in the deletion of Trump votes, mainly in the states of Michigan (discussed above) and Georgia. But these claims are without merit.
For starters, Dominion Voting Systems uses a combination of a touchscreen and a printed ballot. In other words, it’s simply not possible to “erase” votes via a “glitch” as these votes are also recorded on paper ballots. Second, The New York Times investigated the various reports of “glitches” and found that in every instance there was a simple and detailed explanation. In Georgia, two of the “glitch” reports did not involve Dominion software. In the third, there was a brief delay in reporting vote tallies but this did not affect the count.
The New York Times reported:
Issues in three Georgia counties had other explanations. In one county, an apparent problem with Dominion software delayed officials’ reporting of the vote tallies, but did not affect the actual vote count. In two other counties, a separate company’s software slowed poll workers’ ability to check-in voters.
“Many of the claims being asserted about Dominion and questionable voting technology is misinformation at best and, in many cases, they’re outright disinformation,” said Edward Perez, an election-technology expert at the OSET Institute, a nonprofit that studies voting infrastructure. “I’m not aware of any evidence of specific things or defects in Dominion software that would lead one to believe that votes had been recorded or counted incorrectly.”
Georgia election officials said that there would be a “pre-certification audit will provide additional confidence that the votes were accurately counted.”
Did Dominion Voting Software Delete 2.7 Million Ballots Cast for Donald Trump? No, there’s no evidence to support this claim and multiple election officials have disputed the accusations.
While voter fraud claims concerning Dominion Voting Software started on the fringes on the internet, they officially went mainstream on Nov. 12, 2020 when U.S. President Donald Trump posted a message on Twitter claiming that Dominion had deleted 2.7 million votes that had cast for the incumbent.
There is no truth to this claim. This rumor has even been disputed by government officials in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. Shortly after Trump issued this tweet, a coalition of election security officials issued a joint statement saying that “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
We took a deeper dive into this claim here.
Does the Clinton Foundation Partner with Dominion Voting Systems? The evidence provided does not support this claim.
Some social media users alleged that Dominion Voting Systems had somehow rigged the election, and claimed as proof of the conspiracy the "fact" that the company was owned in part by the Clinton Foundation. For example, WeAreTheNe.ws, a website dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory, posted the following image under the caption: "CLINTON FOUNDATION HAS TIES TO THE DOMINION PROGRAM":
This image is a genuine screenshot from the Clinton Foundation website. However, it does not document that the Clinton Foundation owns a stake in Dominion Voting, or has any control over how the company operates.
The statement captured in the screenshot stated that Dominion Voting was offering philanthropic support to the DELIAN Project, a "Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to helping jurisdictions implement positive change in the democratic voting process through the application of technology." The Clinton Foundation published a blurb about Dominion's support of the DELIAN project, but that alone does not establish that the Clinton Foundation had any actual involvement in Dominion's operations.
The closest thing to a "tie" between the Clinton Foundation and Dominion Voting we could find came from a 2015 Washington Post report about the various organizations that have donated to the Clinton Foundation. That report found that Dominion Voting donated between $25,001 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation, but lobbyists working for Dominion also donated to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Dominion said in a statement that they are a non-partisan company:
DOMINION IS A NONPARTISAN U.S. COMPANY.
Dominion has no company ownership relationships with any member of the Pelosi family, the Feinstein family, or the Clinton Global Initiative, Smartmatic, or any ties to Venezuela. Dominion works with all political parties; our customer base and our government outreach practices reflect this nonpartisan approach.
Is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Connected to Dominion Voting? Dominion Voting Systems has hired lobbyists connected to members of both parties.
Social media users also alleged that Dominion Voting Systems was involved in some sort of voter fraud because they had worked with persons connected to high-ranking Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
This tweet does not tell the full story. Dominion Voting Systems worked with a variety of lobbyists who were connected to both Democrats and Republicans.
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, intensified scrutiny was focused on America's voting systems in general and Dominion Voting Systems in particular. The latter is one of the larger providers of election equipment and software, and they hired lobbyists to assist with the company's interactions with the U.S. Congress. Nadeam Elshami, Pelosi's former chief of staff, was one of these lobbyists, as Bloomberg News reported:
Dominion Voting Systems — which commands more than a third of the voting-machine market without having Washington lobbyists — has hired its first, a high-powered firm that includes a longtime aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Dominion, however, also hired lobbyists connected to the Republican party. The New York Times, for example, reported that Jared Thomas, who once served as chief of staff for the (Republican) governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, also lobbied for Dominion.
The Election Integrity Partnership, a coalition of research entities focused on preventing attempts to delegitimize election results, also looked into some of the fraud claims levied against Dominion Voting Systems and labeled them as "false":