5 Unfounded Claims About Voting in the Midterm Elections

Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow and a Trump supporter, was featured last week in several interviews on the video-sharing site Rumble saying that voting machines were connected to the internet and had been tampered with to steal elections. One of his interviews on Rumble was viewed more than 20,000 times.

Over the past month, there were more than 365,592 mentions of “voter fraud” on Twitter, up 25 percent from October 2018, according to Zignal.

Claims of voter fraud have often centered on ballot drop boxes. One false theory involves Democrats paying people to stuff the boxes with illegal ballots. The idea was stoked by the May release of the film “2000 Mules,” which asserted with little evidence that illegal drop box stuffing could be traced through cellphone location data. Security experts and former Attorney General William P. Barr have refuted the claims.

Last month, Melody Jennings, a Trump supporter and the founder of CleanElectionsUSA, an activist group that has spread unfounded rumors of illegal drop-box stuffing, warned on Truth Social that “mules” — or people who were allegedly vote-trafficking — were “doing their thing” at drop boxes in Maricopa County. She and other conspiracy theorists falsely said these mules had stuffed boxes with illegal ballots and called for volunteers to watch over the boxes. Her post was shared more than 3,000 times and liked 7,400 times.

Conspiracy theories about the handling of ballots by election officials are also circulating on social media. According to one unsubstantiated theory, election officials are purposely confusing voters over the kinds of pens that can be used to mark ballots — and declaring that ballots marked with Sharpie pens aren’t counted.

Those false claims, which have circulated since 2020, resurfaced in July when a Maricopa County election office sent an advisory suggesting that voters use felt-tip pens on their ballots. The advisory created a backlash online, with several voters posting on Twitter and Facebook that they would instead use blue ballpoint pens because they worried that ballots marked with felt-tip pens provided at polling stations would not be counted.

False rumors of voting by dead people and illegal immigrants have long circulated, including after the 2020 election in states such as Arizona, Virginia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. In all of these states, a small fraction of ballots were cast in the names of dead individuals.

The trope has reared its head again online ahead of the midterms.

Politicians including Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, have recently said without evidence that Democrats want immigrants who are in the United States illegally to vote.