False claims of election fraud aren’t an anomaly
By: Danica Gullick – 2022 Summer Intern
In 2020, widespread claims of election fraud appeared more than in any election before. This was in part due to President Donald Trump telling America these claims were true, implying he did not actually lose the last election . A majority of the election fraud claims have been disproven, with only 475 cases of fraud among the 25 million votes cast in the six main states, Trump pointed to as fraudulent.
Midterms are fast approaching, and if there are any holding out hope that false election claims would stay in 2020, they would be disappointed. As a machine inspector in the Pennsylvania primary elections this May, I witnessed how voters will be approaching the polls this year. An astonishing amount of voters asked me questions about election fraud. Some were just curious about how the process worked, but others were doubtful that their votes even counted.
In my county, the ballots this year were paper ballots that were fed into physical voting machines. The ballots would then go into the bottom of the scanning machine in a locked area to go to the board of elections later. This was different from prior years’ electronic ballots, and the change was made to prevent voter fraud by having a paper trail. Yet, this made voters even angrier.
The design of the machine means that voters cannot actually see where their ballots go, and they were worried about their ballots being shredded. No assurances from any of us, who set up the machines at the beginning of the day and saw an example ballot go into the bottom, could make voters feel any better.
Worse to voters, these new machines were Dominion voting machines, the machines that were accused of being tampered with in this last election. While again there was no actual evidence of any tampering with these machines, voters had been told there was an issue and assumed the so-called “garbage cans” by many would not be counting their votes.
Likely the most outrageous claim came from one who told me a rumor she has heard about someone who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 but discovered the machine changed it to a vote for Joe Biden. Of course, as the Dominion machines have paper ballots, a mistake like this wouldn’t have even been possible, and the likelihood that it happened with an electronic ballot is very small.
Despite the low probability of this happening, she had heard it, and to many voters, any information is true information.
Election fraud has become so feared that one of my fellow workers mentioned to me that they became a poll worker because of their suspicions and wanted to see the process for themselves. Later, I asked them if they witnessed any fraud. Their answer was that nothing odd was happening with elections at our level.
What is odd is that election fraud is suddenly becoming a big concern. Small cases of voter fraud do happen every year, yet the amount of cases has never been enough which would affect election results. If anything, it’s surprising that election fraud became a concern in 2020, where the voting machines became significantly more standard as either voting on a screen or voting scanners. That’s better than in the 2000 elections with the butterfly ballots and “hanging chads.”
The suspicion some have of voter fraud is mainly due to the growing political division in our country. To anyone paying attention to politics in the past four years, the party divides have become bigger than ever, and voters are loyal to their party no matter what. The problem is that due to this divide, information has also become reliant on a political party, and many only consume news from sources that agree with their party affiliation.
Right-leaning news sources were spreading misinformation about voting. In fact, Dominion Voting is suing Fox News for false claims about their machines (4). When the party leader is also supporting these fraudulent claims, it’s easy for the majority of that party’s voters to believe that the 2020 election resulted in a false winner, despite the many sources that have disproven this.
So, as we approach the November elections, many voters remain suspicious of the voter fraud they believe to be widespread across the country. The best way to counteract this is to spread correct information and disprove misinformation with reliable sources.
Of course, if you’re still suspicious, I urge you to become a poll worker this fall and see for yourself that our elections remain valid, no matter if we like the winner or not.
Danica Gullick wrote this opinion piece while interning for the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg and PA Media Group. It was published here.