Saturday, January 09, 2021

Voter Fraud Conspiracy Nonsense Debunking Roundup

There have been many claims of voter fraud or other misconduct in the 2020 election.  Most of these claims simply do not stand up to scrutiny, and most of the people passing on these claims seem not to be checking their accuracy.  A catalogue of unverified allegations appears at  I have been trying to check these allegations, and here is what I have found about some common claims.  Please click the links for more detailed explanations.


Did Vote Counting Machines Flip Votes from Trump to Biden?

There are all sorts of wild claims about Dominion Voting Systems, from who owns it to how its program in written.  It is not necessary to analyze the machines themselves to know whether they produced an accurate count.  The states that Trump contested use paper ballots, which can be recounted if there is any question about the machine vote count.  The Trump campaign asked for recounts in Milwaukee and Dane County in Wisconsin, which use a different vendor.  The Wisconsin recounts found no vote-flipping.  In Georgia, a hand recount was conducted automatically; it was not requested by the Trump campaign.  The recount found some human error; it did not find any vote-flipping.  In Michigan, Trump improved from 2016 in counties that use Dominion machines, and declined in counties that use other vendors.

Did Dominion Flip Votes in Antrim County?

There was an error in the initially reported result in Antrim County, MI, which the clerk has attributed to a problem with updating the software.  The magnitude of this error makes it unlikely that fraud could explain it.  A hand recount verified that the corrected machine count was accurate.

What about Hammer and Scorecard?

That story is a hoax.


Anomalies in the reported election results could provide evidence of fraud, or at least suggest areas that merit further investigation.  However, many such claims don't stand up to scrutiny.

Does High Voter Turnout Prove Voter Fraud?

Voter turnout was high, but not unreasonably so.  Reasons for high turnout include population growth, more absentee/mail voting, and intense support and opposition to Trump.  Turnout was up in every state, and many safe states had big turnout increases.

Turnout in Detroit was over 100%!

President Trump claimed that Detroit had "far more votes than people".  Russell Ramsland claimed that turnout in Detroit was 139%.  The turnout was actually 51%.  Similar claims about other jurisdictions are also false.

Did Trump lose due to surges of turnout in Detroit, Philadelphia, and other big cities?

Biden got 1000 FEWER votes than Hillary did in 2016 and Trump got 5000 MORE votes than he got four years ago in Detroit.  Biden's margin in Philadelphia also declined compared to Hillary in 2016.  Biden won by improving his margins in upscale suburbs in Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Biden did improve in other cities like Atlanta and Milwaukee, but the improvements were not only in swing states, as some claimed.

Do US Senate election results prove tens of thousands of Biden-only ballots?

It is perfectly normal for some voters to only vote in the most high-profile race.  This has often happened in the past, and it happened more in Michigan in the past than in 2020.

How could Trump lose when he improved with minorities?

There is solid statistical evidence that Trump had a small improvement with blacks and a significant improvement with Hispanics.  Trump lost because he lost ground with white voters, particularly college-educated voters.  With all the discussion of minority voters, it is easy to forget that the majority has more votes than the minority.

Did Battleground States Stop Counting Votes Before the Results Swung to Biden?

North Carolina (which Trump won) stopped counting because it ran out of votes to count.  Some localities did break for the night.  Michigan, Wisconsin, and Philadelphia did not stop counting.

Why were the late election results bad for Trump?

In many states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin, Trump led early, but Biden gained until winning the election later.  There is a clear reason for this.  These states all counted election day votes first and absentee votes later.  Rs disproportionately voted on election day due to concerns about the security of mailed votes, while Ds disproportionately voted absentee due to concerns about COVID.  Thus it is no surprise that Trump won election day votes while Biden won absentee votes.  Note that Ohio counted absentee votes first, and Trump trailed early but won late.


Charles Cicchetti found the chance of Biden winning Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin after Trump's early lead is less than one in a quadrillion!

For this calculation to be correct, votes would have to be counted in random order, so that a vote counted late was no more likely to be for Biden than a vote counted early.  However, this is false, since in these four states, absentee votes were counted after election day votes.  Biden did better in absentee votes than in election day votes.  Matt Parker and Robert VerBruggen have longer explanations.

Does Benford's Law prove that Biden's vote totals were fraudulent?

Benford's Law is a tool that can provide evidence of fraud in some data sets.  Some precinct data seems to violate this law.  To be applicable, the data set must follow a "power law", and must vary over several orders of magnitude.  Neither assumption is likely to hold for election data, so Benford's Law does not apply.  Matt Parker has a longer explanation.  Also, it is unlikely that Benford's law would catch most types of voter fraud, unless someone were making up vote totals from scratch.

Has Dr. Shiva Proven Michigan Voter Fraud?

Dr. Shiva made a serious mathematical error in his analysis and his conclusion is based on a false assumption.  The effect he found for Trump votes applies similarly to Biden votes.

"Mathematician" Bobby Piton was kicked off of Twitter after presenting evidence of fraud in Arizona!

It isn't clear whether Piton was ever kicked off Twitter, but he is there now.  Piton is not a mathematician, he is a financial adviser.  He describes his approach on his website:

Bobby has read well in excess of a million pages over his career and has extensively studied physics, quantum mechanics, mathematics, economics, trading, portfolio construction, model development, asset valuation, and alpha generation to develop and refine his methodology.

Piton's presentation in Arizona is on Youtube and the associated write-up is on his website.  Good luck following his argument.  He does compare (19:30) the turnout for the 1998 (governor) election to the 2020 presidential election.  Midterm elections almost always have lower turnout than presidential elections, so this is not a relevant comparison.


Many election observers have signed affidavits concerning their experiences on election night.  It is often noted that these are sworn under penalty of perjury, and therefore they are proof of fraud.  Realistically, it is unlikely that anyone would be charged with perjury, which would require proving beyond a reasonable doubt that they are lying.  That is not to say that most of them are lying.  Some are clearly just misunderstandings, many don't actually allege fraud, and many are impossible to check.  Some specific claims are addressed below.  Recall that Trump improved in Detroit and Philadelphia relative to 2016, which is hard to square with massive fraud in those cities.

Detroit's election workers input a false birthdate of 1/1/1900 for absentee ballots!

Yes, they did.  Detroit's election software required a birthdate to input the ballots, which election workers would not have.  The city clerk instructed workers to input that date as a placeholder so that the real birthdates could be filled in later.  Note that it would not make sense for anyone committing fraud to claim that a voter was 119 years old!

Election workers ran the same stack of ballots through the machine multiple times!

Each precinct has a list of everyone who voted, called a poll book.  If many ballots are run through a machine repeatedly, this will create a mismatch between the number of votes and the number of recorded voters in the poll book.  While many of Detroit's precincts did have mismatches, they were generally small, not hundreds or thousands of votes.

Almost half or 48% of the 134 counting boards were individually off by plus or minus four votes or fewer each, according to results certified by the county's bipartisan board of canvassers. Another 39 boards, or 29% of them, were in balance, while 31 boards, or 23% of the total, were off by five or more votes.

The total "difference in absentee ballots tabulated and names in poll books in Detroit was 150".

In Georgia, were there problems with secret vote counting, illegal voters, signature matching, etc?

Gabriel Sterling, a Republican who is Georgia's voting system implementation manager, debunked these claims in a press conference.


While these do not directly prove voter fraud, they are supposed to show that something strange happened.  In many cases, there are perfectly reasonable explanations.

Was There are Red Wave Downballot in 2020?

The election results for president and congress were quite consistent.  Rs picked up house seats relative to 2018, not relative to 2016.

Do Incumbent Presidents Who Increase Their Votes Always Win?

There are few elections where incumbent presidents lose, so there are few relevant elections to consider.  Also, this anomaly has happened before.

Can a President Lose While His Party Gains House Seats?

This is another claim which applies to only a few elections.  It has also happened before.

How could Trump lose when he won most bellwether counties?

A bellwether county is a county which always, or almost almost always voted for the winner in recent elections.  They are not crystal balls, they are statistical anomalies--counties that happen to swing the same way as the nation when party coalitions change.  These counties are mostly rural, and Trump did well in them in both 2016 and 2020.  Biden won by improving in large suburban counties, not rural areas.


The Trump campaign and supporters have filed around 60 lawsuits challenging the election results.  They have lost all of them, with one minor exception.

Did any judges rule on evidence of voter fraud, or were all the suits dismissed for lack of standing?

The suits not filed by the Trump campaign were generally dismissed for lack of standing.  This is something that the plaintiffs should have considered before filing, as not just anyone can challenge the results of an election.  However, some judges did rule on the merits of the claims.  Note that some of the more wild claims of fraud were not actually made in court, where lawyers can be disbarred for lying.

In Wisconsin, a Trump-appointed judge allowed the Trump campaign to present evidence.  However, they declined to present any evidence ("stipulated [the] set of facts") and only contested election law issues.  A Republican judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit, saying "this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence."  The Nevada Supreme Court (which is ideologically mixed), similarly upheld the dismissal of a Trump campaign lawsuit on the merits.  In Michigan, the Trump campaign dropped its lawsuit before its claims could be heard.

Were election laws changed before the election?

Some legislatures and judges changed laws before the election.  The reason cited was generally the COVID pandemic.  It is likely that some judges were hoping to help Ds with their rulings.  This help could mean either encouraging more Ds to legally vote, or making it easier for fraud to be committed.  Some of these decisions were challenged before the election, and some were overturned, but others were not challenged before the election.

After the election, the Trump campaign filed challenges to many of these decisions.  Their complaints in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin seemed to have some merit.  The problem with this is that there is no way to know whether these decisions changed the outcome of the election.  So if the judges' decisions were illegitimate, what is the remedy?  The Trump campaign was asking for hundreds of thousands of votes to be thrown out, or even the entire election.  But this would disenfranchise millions of legitimate voters, including those who voted in good faith based on the rules presented at the time.  This would be a bigger injustice than the original decisions.  Many rulings have cited the doctrine of "laches" to toss out Trump campaign lawsuits.  Essentially, this means they waited too long to file.  The issues could have been resolved before the election with far less disruption, so waiting until after the election to file is too late.

Can state legislatures appoint the electors themselves?

The Constitution gives states the power to decide how presidential electors are chosen. Since the early 1800s, all states have passed laws to choose presidential electors by popular election.  A state legislature could theoretically repeal this law and choose the electors itself for a future election, but none have tried to do so since this would be very unpopular.  A legislature cannot unilaterally appoint its own slate of electors in defiance of the laws that are already on the books.  It is very dubious whether it could repeal the law for an election that has already taken place.  In any case, no legislature attempted to appoint its own electors.

Why was the Texas lawsuit thrown out by the Supreme Court?

In the Texas lawsuit, a group of states was attempting to get the Supreme Court to change their election laws.  This is a violation of federalism, as states can make and interpret their own laws unless there is a violation of federal law involved.  The case was basically a political stunt, and all nine justices viewed it as such.


The COVID pandemic led to a surge of absentee/mail voting.  Absentee voting can be more vulnerable to fraud, since the person who votes is not actually seen casting the vote.  However, we have a list of the people who voted, or at least the name they gave, so if there were many ineligible or fake voters, it should be possible to identify them.

Were there many dead people, minors, felons, illegals among the voters?

This has been claimed by Matt Braynard of the "Voter Integrity Project".  It isn't entirely clear what methodology he used to conclude this, but it seems likely that he compared lists of voters to lists of people who are prohibited from voting and looked for matching names.  The problem with this is that there are many people with the same name, so this will lead to many false matches.  This seems to be the case in Georgia, where a D state representative was able to discredit many of the names cited by Braynard.  The voter lists should certainly be investigated by authorities, but claims of hundreds of thousands of illegal votes should not be endorsed without proof.  A Georgia audit of 15000 signatures found only two with problems.

Did Steven Crowder find Massive Voter Fraud in Detroit?

Crowder simply misunderstood the way that Detroit reports absentee ballots.


There are a few arguments for voter fraud that seem plausible to me.  That does not mean that they are definitely true, but at least I don't see any obvious flaw in them.

Were there differences in the absentee ballot voting rates on the borders of counties?

John Lott argues that there are differences in the absentee ballot voting rates in precincts on opposite sides of county lines, where one of the counties is an urban center controlled by Ds.  He says that differences do not exist for in-person voting, and there was no such difference in 2016.  This analysis could be vulnerable to cherry-picking, so it would be good to see it checked with a larger data set.

Did more than 1700 Georgians vote twice in 2020 elections?

It appears so.  These voters apparently voted both in person and by absentee ballot.  It is important to recognize, however, that the number 1700 combines multiple elections.  For the November election, the total claimed is "at least 400".

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