Claim: Republicans are claiming that Democrats are tampering with ballot machines to count illegal votes as a way to steal the midterm elections.
Rating: This claim is FALSE. These erroneous claims of voter fraud began amidst the 2020 elections. Federal agencies, state election officials, and technology experts have all said that we should have utmost confidence in the results and process of the 2020 election. “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” the coordinating bodies on election infrastructure and security wrote in a joint statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
There are substantiated cases of vote tampering, but not on the part of Democrats. In Michigan, The Detroit News reported that Republican Attorney General candidate Matt DePerno played a major part in an illegal scheme to tamper with voting machines, aided by Republican state representative Daire Rendon, and Sheriff Dar Leaf of Bay County. Their efforts involved convincing local clerks to “hand over tabulators, taking the tabulators to hotels or rental properties in Oakland County, breaking into the machines, printing ‘fake ballots’ and performing ‘tests’ on the equipment.” These GOP politicians claim to be defending free and fair elections but broke the law, strong-arming local clerks to gain unauthorized access to voting equipment.
These claims of voter fraud are integral to Former President Donald Trump’s platform as the public presentation of such claims can be just as, if not more, powerful than fact. Claiming that elections are being stolen via voter fraud is an increasingly common tactic amongst GOP candidates. This tactic has been proven to be highly effective—according to the New York Times, nearly 200 election-denying Republican candidates won their races in the 2022 Midterm Elections.
In the 2020 election cycle, Trump alleged that the only way he could lose was if there were election fraud. However, a leaked audio recording of Steve Bannon speaking to a group of associates on October 31, 2020 published by Mother Jones, Bannon stated that Trump had always planned to claim victory—even if he lost.
“What Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory. Right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner,” Bannon is heard saying in the recording. “He’s just gonna say he’s a winner.”
Trump knew that mail-in ballots, which are typically Democratic-leaning, would be slow to be counted and therefore early tallies would show him in the lead in key states. Trump’s strategy was to use this fact to his advantage and falsely claim that he had won but the sudden shifts in the vote totals toward Joe Biden were the result of fraud.
“If Trump is losing by 10 or 11 o’clock at night, it’s going to be even crazier. No, because he’s gonna sit right there and say, ‘They stole it. I’m directing the attorney general to shut down all ballot places in all 50 states,’” Bannon said.
Bannon predicted this false narrative would result in a “firestorm,” suggesting that the Trump team had planned to foment outrage amongst Trump supporters since the beginning. This movement culminated in the deadly march on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, resulting in five deaths.
Reports of voter fraud are a way to spread doubt about American democracy. Voting in America continues to be secure, and so the claims that Democrats are trying to add illegal votes to voting machines is FALSE.