Le bufale sulle elezioni che maggiormente circolano in rete
A meno di una settimana dalle elezioni presidenziali negli Stati Uniti, la disinformazione sul voto e sulle modalità e sulla sicurezza del voto stesso si sta diffondendo rapidamente online. In questo studio abbiamo raccolto le principali bufale sul voto e sulle elezioni, considerando i contenuti pubblicati dagli oltre 6.000 siti analizzati da NewsGuard.
- Il voto per corrispondenza aumenta notevolmente l’incidenza delle frodi elettorali
- Le frodi elettorali non esistono
- La pratica degli osservatori ai seggi è sempre illegale e si traduce in intimidazione degli elettori
- La pratica degli osservatori ai seggi è legale in tutte le sue forme e un candidato può formare un ‘esercito’ di osservatori per recarsi nei distretti e monitorare gli elettori, assicurandosi che stiano rispettando tutte le regole
- I voti non conteggiati entro la fine del giorno delle elezioni (3 novembre 2020) sono illegali e non devono essere conteggiati
- La rimozione di alcune cassette postali del servizio postale degli Stati Uniti nell’agosto 2020 fa parte di un complotto del presidente Trump e del suo direttore delle poste incaricato, generale Louis DeJoy, per rendere più difficile il voto per posta
- Cittadini votano fraudolentemente per conto dei morti
- I Democratici sostengono la ‘raccolta dei voti’, la pratica attraverso la quale alcune persone sono pagate per raccogliere le schede di persone vulnerabili come anziani e disabili, e cambiare il voto della persona in modo che questo sostenga il proprio partito
- I Democratici minacciano violenza – sotto forma di colpo di stato o guerra civile – a meno che Joe Biden non vinca le elezioni presidenziali
- Gli immigrati illegali possono registrarsi legalmente per votare alle elezioni statali e nazionali nello stato della California
- I legislatori statali a maggioranza repubblicana intendono rifiutarsi di certificare i risultati delle elezioni ufficiali del proprio stato nel tentativo di garantire che nessuno dei due candidati raggiunga la soglia necessaria per essere eletto di 270 voti nel collegio elettorale
MYTH: Mail-in voting significantly increases incidences of voter fraud. The arrest of a single person on voter fraud charges, or even the suspicion that a person acted fraudulently, provides evidence that the problem is rampant. Surely, if one person is doing it, many more are also doing it — and getting away with it.
COUNTER MYTH: Voter fraud does not exist. People who warn that voter fraud is a reality are just trying to suppress voters.
While voter fraud does occur, evidence indicates that it is rare. The Heritage Foundation maintains a voter fraud database documenting cases dating as far back as 1986 and, as of Oct. 20, 2020, had found a total 1,298 cases of voter fraud, with 208 involving absentee ballots. Amber McReynolds, CEO for the National Vote At Home Institute and Coalition, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology political science professor Charles Stewart III cited this data in an April 2020 op-ed for The Hill stating that 143 of these absentee ballot cases resulted in criminal convictions. They wrote that “fraud using mailed ballots over the course of 20 years comes out to seven to eight cases per year, nationally,” adding that this rate represents “about 0.00006 percent of total votes cast.”
Moreover, when election officials identify instances of voting problems, they are demonstrating that the system is functioning as it should, by rooting out problems — and not counting those rejected ballots. For instance, in September 2020, Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger announced an investigation of “potential double voting,” saying that 1,000 people may have voted twice in the state’s June primary election this year. However, he did not provide evidence that anyone was suspected of doing so intentionally or committing a crime, and the state has not prosecuted anyone for voting twice in June.
MYTH: Poll watching is always illegal and amounts to voter intimidation or voter suppression.
COUNTER MYTH: Poll watching is legal in all forms, and a candidate can form an “army” of poll watchers to go to precincts and monitor voters, to ensure that they are following all rules.
Poll watching is legal in most states as an official role, regulated by election officials. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), poll watchers — known in some states as “partisan citizen observers” — are affiliated with a political party, and they “seek to ensure that election administration does not disadvantage their campaigns.” They are on hand to represent one political party and provide an extra level of oversight to ensure that voting and vote-counting is done fairly. Nonpartisan observers are also common, and they observe the overall integrity of the election. “Nonpartisan observers work to protect the integrity of the electoral process and advance electoral quality and accountability regardless of the political outcome,” NCSL states.
Each state has its own regulations governing who can serve as a poll watcher. For example, in Alabama, a poll watcher must be a registered voter, and there can be only one per party per polling place. In Michigan, anyone who is not a candidate for office can serve as an election observer, with a limit of two per party per precinct. States place limits on poll watchers’ communication, barring them from interfering with a voter casting their ballot and instead requiring that they raise any issues to election officials. “They are not supposed to interfere in the electoral process apart from reporting issues to polling place authorities and party officials,” NCSL states. Voter intimidation is a crime under federal law, which bars any action that “intimidates, threatens, or coerces” a voter to vote for a particular candidate or to not vote at all. The Department of Justice views voter intimidation schemes as a type of voter fraud.
MYTH: Votes not yet counted at the end of Election Day (Nov. 3, 2020) are illegal and should not be counted. Whoever has more votes on election night is the winner. If mail-in ballots counted after Nov. 3 show a different candidate winning than the one who was leading on election night, this is unlawful manipulation or voter fraud.
It is not uncommon for election results to not be certified, or made official, on Election Day. According to Ballotpedia, “certification is the process by which the results of an election are made official,” a process conducted by state election officials. Each state sets a different certification deadline, ranging from Nov. 5 in Delaware to Dec. 8 in several states. Counting votes after Election Day is legally required, if those votes were cast lawfully and mail-in ballots were received by the deadline set by each state. Simply because a candidate is leading the vote count on the night of the election does not mean that he or she will ultimately be declared the winner.
Many states are seeing an increase in mail-in voting due to voters’ fears of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Ballotpedia, which is tracking states’ temporary modifications to absentee voting procedures in response to the coronavirus. Some states that had offered only limited absentee voting expanded it, and states that have offered mail-in voting in the past have seen more people than ever take advantage of it. In Florida, for example, officials sent 4.7 million ballots, compared to 2.7 million people who voted by mail in 2016. Because of this increase in mail ballots, many voting administrators and state officials have said that they expect the counting of ballots in 2020 to extend beyond Election Day.
Each state sets a deadline by which mail-in ballots must be received. The deadlines vary. For example, Alabama ballots must be received by the Absentee Election Manager by noon on Nov. 3. Florida ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. In Minnesota, ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and can arrive as late as Nov. 10. Federal law stipulates that states must certify the state-level results of the presidential race by December 8, six days before members of the Electoral College meet to officially elect the president.
MYTH: The removal of U.S. Postal Service mailboxes in August 2020 is part of a plot by President Trump and his appointee Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to make it more difficult for people to vote by mail.
In August 2020, photos of blue USPS mailboxes being removed went viral on social media. Democratic politicians criticized the removals as an effort by the Trump administration to suppress votes, by making it harder for people to submit mail-in ballots at a time when more people than ever might vote by mail due to fears of the coronavirus. In fact, the USPS routinely removes mailboxes when they are not needed in a certain area. Doing so is not a political tactic but a long-held USPS policy. Following the release of an August 2020 photo of a USPS mailbox in Oregon being removed, Post Office spokesperson Ernie Swanson told the Willamette Week, a Portland newspaper, that “The reason we’re doing it is because of declining mail volume.” In 2011, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper reported that the number of blue USPS mailboxes on U.S. streets had declined from 400,000 in 1985 to 160,000 in 2011, as Americans sent less physical mail and relied less on the blue public mailboxes.
At an August congressional hearing, DeJoy testified that 30,000 collection boxes have been removed over the past 10 years. He also announced that he would postpone cost-cutting changes the USPS had implemented over the summer, including reducing overtime and limiting trips, which Democrats said could hinder the return of mail-in ballots. “I recognize that it has become impossible to separate the necessary long-term reform efforts we will need to undertake from the broader political environment surrounding the election, and I do not want to pursue any immediate efforts that might be utilized to tarnish the Postal Service brand, particularly as it relates to our role in the democratic process,” DeJoy said.
MYTH: Living people are fraudulently voting on behalf of dead people.
In many states, election officials cross-check the list of voters with the Social Security Administration’s list of people who recently died in that jurisdiction. If a voter in one of those states died between casting their ballot and Election Day, their ballot will be rejected. In a handful of states, including Massachusetts, people who die after casting their ballot, but before Election Day, do have their vote counted. There is no evidence that living people have fraudulently voted in the name of dead people in significant numbers. In a 2014 investigation, The Washington Post identified 31 credible instances of voter impersonation from 2000 to 2014, out of more than one billion votes cast in that period.
MYTH: Democrats support “ballot harvesting,” the practice in which political operatives are paid to collect ballots from vulnerable people like the elderly and disabled, and change the person’s vote so that it supports the political operative’s party. Democrats want to pass legislation to legalize “ballot harvesting” and other “cheat by mail” provisions because they support voter fraud.
The Democrats’ coronavirus relief bill, known as the Heroes Act (which passed the U.S. House but stalled in the Senate), stipulates that someone other than a family member would be allowed to return a ballot for somebody who was unable to leave home to vote. However, the bill explicitly bars the kind of abuse known as ballot harvesting. The legislation states that ballots must already be “voted and sealed” by the time the designated person picks it up, and mandates that the person “does not receive any form of compensation” for delivering the ballot.
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan organization that researches and analyzes issues of interest to state officials, ballot collection is legal in many states. Still, these states have a variety of laws relating to the practice of ballot collection. Some states, like Arizona, only allow a family member, caregiver, or person who lives with the voter to turn in the voter’s ballot. Other states, including Montana, allow non-family members to return people’s ballots, but place a limit on the number of ballots a person may return.
MYTH: Democrats promise violence — in the form of a coup or civil war — unless Joe Biden wins the presidential election. The blueprint for their post-election plan is a report from the Transition Integrity Project, a partisan Democratic group that laid the groundwork for Democrats to react with violence in any situation aside from Biden winning in a landslide.
There is no evidence suggesting that Democratic officials, politicians, or activists have plans to respond with violence if President Trump wins reelection, or that they will advance a coup to unseat President Trump. Biden has routinely said that he will accept the results of the election, even if he loses, in contrast to President Trump. The Transition Integrity Project is a bipartisan group of more than 100 academics, civil servants, political experts, and former government and military officials that met in June to simulate possible scenarios that could occur on and after Election Day. The report they published describing the results of their exercise found that chaos would be likely, writing, “We assess with a high degree of likelihood that November’s elections will be marked by a chaotic legal and political landscape.”
However, the group’s report clearly noted that its exercise was only a simulation, and the results were a prediction, not a foregone conclusion. “These risks can be mitigated; the worst outcomes of the exercises are far from a certainty. The purpose of this report is not to frighten, but to spur all stakeholders to action,” the report stated. The report referred to “escalating violence” as one of the “biggest threats” in the aftermath of the election, and urged officials to address it directly. The report clearly called for only peaceful protest: “Our legal rules and political norms don’t work unless people are prepared to defend them and to speak out when others violate them. It is incumbent upon elected officials, civil society leaders, and the press to challenge authoritarian actions in the courts, in the media, and in the streets through peaceful protest.”
MYTH: Illegal immigrants can legally register to vote in state and national elections in the state of California.
Non-citizens are not eligible to vote in statewide and national elections in California and anywhere in the U.S. “To register to vote in California, you must be: A United States citizen and a resident of California,” the California Secretary of State’s website states. In 2015, California enacted two laws that led some critics to claim that undocumented immigrants could legally vote in California. The first allowed undocumented immigrants in the state to get a driver’s license, while the second enabled voting registration when U.S. citizens obtained a driver’s license. Critics said that the measure did not have adequate protections to prevent the registration of undocumented immigrants. Stateline, a state policy-focused publication from the Pew Charitable Trusts, reported in October 2019 that at least one non-citizen was registered due to glitches in the process. However, even in cases where noncitizens were mistakenly registered to vote, it remains illegal for them to cast a ballot.
MYTH: Republican-majority state legislatures plan to refuse to certify their state’s official election results in an attempt to ensure that neither candidate earns 270 votes in the electoral college. Their goal would be to send the final election to the U.S. House of Representatives, where each state would have one vote — and since more states have Republican-majority delegations, the House would elect President Trump.
Although it is constitutionally possible that a contested or inconclusive election could be decided by Congress, there is no evidence to suggest that Republican legislatures plan to choose not to certify election results and send the election to Congress. The last time Congress decided the outcome of the presidential race was in 1825, when none of the four candidates in the 1824 election won sufficient votes in Electoral College. The Washington Post wrote in October that a “contingent election,” in which Congress must decide the outcome, is an “exceedingly rare scenario.”
The 12th Amendment of the Constitution sets the procedures for electing the U.S. president, asserting that whichever candidate wins more votes in the Electoral College is the winner. If no candidate wins the majority of electoral votes, the 12th Amendment delineates a process for Congress to decide the winner. “The House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President,” the amendment states. “But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote.” The Constitution also holds that state elections shall be conducted “in such manner as the Legislature thereof shall direct,” meaning state legislatures set rules for their state’s elections.
The Atlantic reported in September that some officials and advisors in the Republican Party have said President Trump has “contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors,” which would “ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote.” This plan would allow the legislatures to bypass the popular vote by choosing electors who do not have to abide by the way the states’ citizens voted. However, even this situation — which has not been publicly embraced by any Republican state legislators — does not involve sending the election to Congress. It would still have the election be decided by the Electoral College.