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Debunking voter fraud claims that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection

Here are the facts about some of the unsubstantiated voting fraud claims made in connection with the 2020 presidential election.
Credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File
Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.

It’s been one year since the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection when a group of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying the 2020 presidential election results.

Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, receiving 306 electoral votes compared to Trump’s 232 electoral votes. But Trump asserted his defeat in the election was due to widespread voter fraud. There has been no evidence that widespread voter fraud occurred and altered the outcome of the election.

The VERIFY team researched three of the most common voter fraud claims made leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, as well as after.

THE CLAIM

There were widespread cases of dead people voting.

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, there is no evidence of widespread cases of dead people voting.

WHAT WE FOUND

In a January 2021 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the audio of which has been published by multiple news outlets, Trump claimed about 5,000 votes counted in Georgia were from dead people.

In a December 2021 tweet, 11 months after the phone call, Raffensperger said there were a total of four votes from dead people in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election.

In the days after the 2020 election, one of the most viral claims of deceased voter fraud focused on a Michigan man who died in 1984. The Michigan Department of State called it misinformation.

“Ballots of voters who have died are rejected in Michigan, even if the voter cast an absentee ballot and then died before Election Day,” the Michigan Department of State says on its website.

The Michigan Department of State also said clerical errors can lead to confusion.

“In some cases, because of a clerical error, a ballot will be recorded as cast by a deceased individual when it was actually cast by a living individual with a similar name,” the department says. “For example, a ballot that was cast by John A. Smith, Jr., who is alive, might be accidentally recorded as having been received by John A. Smith, Sr., who is deceased.”

In June 2021, the Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee released a report on the 2020 election and said “there is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters.”

The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) says all states remove the names of deceased voters from voter rolls.

“In most states, information on deceased voters is received from a state office of vital statistics, the state department of health, or a similar entity,” the NASS said.

The Heritage Foundation, which touts its principles of conservatism, maintains an election fraud database. The group notes 31 cases of election fraud involving “deceased” people since 2005.

THE CLAIM

Dominion voting machines deleted votes for Trump and switched them to Biden.

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, there is no evidence that Dominion voting machines deleted votes for Trump and switched them to Biden.

WHAT WE FOUND

Trump made this claim in November 2020 following the election. In the tweet, Trump said 941,000 votes for him were deleted in Pennsylvania.

Dominion Voting Systems supplies election technology in 28 states, including Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico, according to the company’s website.

Dominion said that its voting machines were used in 14 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and that 52% of the votes in those counties, 676,000 total, went to Trump. Since a total of 676,000 votes went to Trump, the company said it would be impossible for 941,000 votes for him to be deleted.

On Nov. 12, 2020, a week after the election, a coalition that included officials with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the National Association of Secretaries of State, the National Association of State Election Directors and others, concluded, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the coalition also stated.

In a report released in March 2021, the National Intelligence Council said, “We have no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 U.S. elections, including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation, or reporting results.”

One of the states where Trump contested the results was Arizona. The state’s most populous county, Maricopa County, used Dominion voting machines in the 2020 election. According to the county, a hand count of 2% of Election Day ballots and 1% of early ballots was conducted as required by state law.

“It yielded a 100% match to the results produced by the tabulation equipment,” Maricopa County said.

THE CLAIM

An election audit of votes in Maricopa County, Arizona, said the results should not be certified.

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, an election audit of votes in Maricopa County, Arizona, did not say the results should not be certified.

WHAT WE FOUND

Maricopa County is typically a Republican stronghold. But in the 2020 presidential election, Biden defeated Trump by 45,000 votes. The lead Biden built in Maricopa County helped him win Arizona by a little more than 10,000 votes.   

Although the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors previously said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, the Arizona Senate hired a group called Cyber Ninjas to review the ballots.

On Sept. 24, 2021, Cyber Ninjas released an executive summary of its findings. But online users shared a false version of the summary, claiming the report said the “election should not be certified, and the reported results are not reliable.”

Credit: Screenshot/Telegram

“There is a false version of the Executive Summary of the Maricopa County Forensic Election Audit report that is circulating,” a statement from Cyber Ninjas said. “This false version claims to be an earlier version of the Cyber Ninjas Executive Summary, but because of supposed threats from the Senate, it was not used. This is absolutely false.”

The statement was sent to VERIFY from The Thomson Group, a public relations firm representing the Cyber Ninjas.

Credit: Rod Thomson, The Thomson Group

The real final executive summary and presentations were published on the official website of the Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus. The actual results confirmed Biden won the election in Maricopa County.

Arizona was the target of other misinformation claims, including that 6,000 “fake votes” for Biden were found (this is false) and that Sharpie markers impacted Arizona vote-counting (also false).

More from VERIFY: Yes, some felons from the Jan. 6 insurrection can vote but it depends on where they live

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