2022 Midterm Election Misinformation Tracking Center

NewsGuard analysts are monitoring the spread of top myths related to this year's U.S. midterm elections.

By Sam Howard, Lorenzo Arvanitis, Jack Brewster, Valerie Pavilonis, McKenzie Sadeghi, Andie Slomka, and Macrina Wang | Last updated: Nov. 17, 2022

As political misinformation continued to spread online during the 2022 campaign season, NewsGuard’s team of analysts has monitored the media landscape for prominent myths connected to voting and individual races. As of Nov. 17, 2022, we have identified 23 Myths promoted on 41 websites.

NewsGuard will regularly update this Election Misinformation Tracker through and past Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. Check back here for the newest trending myths, which are added to the top of the list.

Top U.S. midterm myths identified by NewsGuard

MYTH: A New York candidate for the U.S. Senate lost 20,000 votes overnight, indicating fraud

Diane Sare, a candidate for U.S. Senate from New York running as a “LaRouche Independent,” said in a Nov. 9, 2022, Twitter post: “Last night I had over 55k votes and by this morning, less than 30k.” (The LaRouche party’s namesake, Lyndon LaRouche, was a fringe political figure who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. President eight times, from 1976 to 2004.)

The post included two screenshots of Sare’s vote tally from Google’s election widget, which displays results from The Associated Press. The screenshots showed the vote count for Sare decreasing from 50,408 votes to 29,954 votes between 1:41 a.m. and 4:41 a.m. on Nov. 9. 

Although Sare did not connect the incident to fraud, numerous Twitter users who responded to her post did. False claims about Sare’s drop in votes were repeated by multiple websites, including The Gateway Pundit, which said in a headline: “THE STEAL: It Happened Again — Votes from Third Party Candidate Disappear From Totals Hours After Being Reported.”

It is not clear precisely how the initial error in the vote tally occurred. Associated Press spokesperson Lauren Easton told NewsGuard in a November 2022 email: “A technical issue outside of AP caused overstated vote totals to appear for candidate Diane Sare. When we realized the numbers were incorrect, we took steps to gather the vote from other sources. In the course of correcting the numbers, the number of votes for Sare decreased. AP’s numbers are correct and match what’s being reported by the New York Secretary of State.” 

John Conklin, the New York State Board of Elections director of public information, told NewsGuard in a November 2022 email: “We reviewed what we posted over the course of the evening and at no point did Diane Sare have anything close to 50,000 votes on our website. Our cumulative total of 25,707 is accurate as unofficial results. The final result is scheduled to be certified at our December 15th board meeting.”

Websites promoting the claim that Sare’s vote total changed due to fraud include OperationDisclosureOfficial.com, WorthyPolitics.com, and NWOReport.me. NewsGuard sent an email to each site in November 2022, and did not receive an immediate response from WorthyPolitics.com and NWOReport.me. 

Judy Byington, whose byline appeared on the OperationDisclosureOfficial.com story, declined to comment on the false claims of voter fraud in a November 2022 email to NewsGuard. “I’ll leave the discernment up to the reader,” Byington said.

MYTH: Vote jumps for Democrats are proof of election fraud

As ballots were being counted during the 2022 midterm elections, conservative figures promoted unfounded claims that rising vote tallies for Democratic candidates were evidence of fraud. The claims mirrored similar reports from 2020, in which critics raised questions about so-called “vote spikes” boosting Democratic candidates in battleground states, and linking them to fraud.

Such increases in vote counts are commonplace and are due to the release of large batches of results all at once from solidly Democratic or Republican districts, or from mailed ballots, which are used more heavily by Democrats, according to election experts. Indeed, the spikes have benefited candidates from both parties.

For example, in Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, Democrat Tim Ryan’s early lead against Republican J.D. Vance was narrowed, then slashed, by consecutive ballot spikes favoring Republicans. In Michigan, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer’s early lead over Republican Tudor Nixon expanded after consecutive ballot spikes favoring Democrats.

“Election results are typically reported in batches,” Kristen Muthig, the director of communications at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, told Reuters in a November 2022 fact-checking article. “Depending on when a state or jurisdiction processes and tabulates mail/absentee ballots, those vote totals could be reported in early results on election night. Or they could be reported in later results reports after the in-person votes have been reported.”

During the 2022 midterm elections, claims about ballot dumps resurfaced online, boosted in large part by prominent Trump ally and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and then sustained by dozens of political websites that NewsGuard has found to publish misinformation.

In an episode of Lindell’s show “The Lindell Report,” airing on election night, Nov. 8, 2022, Lindell focused on seemingly unusual jumps in vote tallies in various states, including Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois — and claimed they were signs of election fraud.

On Nov. 10, 2022, The Gateway Pundit, a site with a history of publishing political misinformation, published at least four articles including the phrase “drop and roll,” a reference to the false claim that Democrats had used ballot drops to steal the midterm elections. Two such stories were headlined “‘The Drop and Roll’ Hit GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert Too – Two Big Drops Put Dem Ahead in Race,” and “BREAKING: Unexplained Ballot Drops Occurred in the Minnesota Governor’s Race – Illicit ‘Drop and Roll’ Gave Democrat the Win.”

DefConNews.com is one site that promoted the claim about ballot spikes being evidence of fraud. NewsGuard sent an email to the site in November 2022, but did not receive an immediate response.

MYTH: Pennsylvania officials rigged the 2022 election by mailing more than 240,000 ballots to ‘unverified’ voters

The claim that Pennsylvania sent hundreds of thousands of ballots to voters who had not yet provided required identification came from an Oct. 24, 2022, report from a Pennsylvania-based group called Verity Vote, which describes itself on its website as “a group of capable investigators,” without any other identifying information. The report stated that certain voting practices in the state result in the “acceptance and counting of unverified ballots.”

“The impact of this issue on the 2022 General Election cannot be overstated,” the report stated. “As of October 17, 2022, a shocking 249,000 unverified mail ballots have been sent to applicants who provided invalid identification or no identification at all.”

The Gateway Pundit, a Red-rated site that NewsGuard found repeatedly publishes false claims, wrote about the report the day that it was released, in an article titled “BREAKING: Pennsylvania Democrat Officials Mailed Out 240,000 Ballots to Unverified Voters!” (The site later updated the total to 255,000, after receiving an update from Verity Vote.) “You can bet that very few of these counties will set these ballots aside. This is how Democrats cheat,” The Gateway Pundit story stated.

Similarly, in an Oct. 27, 2022, video posted to WarRoom.org, “War Room” podcast host Steve Bannon said: “The only way [Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania governor Josh] Shapiro can win is to cheat. And you’re seeing it right here.”

However, a letter to legislators from Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman and a statement from the Pennsylvania Department of State disputed both the 240,000 figure and the implication that “unverified ballots” could influence the election results.

“There are not 240,000+ ‘unverified ballots,’ as certain lawmakers are claiming,” the Pennsylvania Department of State wrote on Oct. 27, 2022. “That is misinformation.”

When Pennsylvania voters fill out an application for a mail-in or absentee ballot, their identity is usually verified automatically through the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) — a database of registered voters in Pennsylvania — according to an Oct. 28, 2022, letter sent to state legislators by Chapman.

However, some applications require further verification, officials said. As of Oct. 28, 2022, there were 7,600 ballot applications — not more than 240,000 — for which this was the case, although that number was “simply a point-in-time number, which will continue to decrease as the election gets closer and as voters provide required proof of identification,” Chapman’s letter stated.

Pennsylvania state law requires election officials to send out ballots to registered voters who request them — even if those voters do not provide identification when they apply. However, officials noted that if no such identification is provided by the sixth day following the election, that vote is not counted.

Sites that promoted this claim about unverified voters in Pennsylvania included WarRoom.org and ConservativeFiringLine.com. NewsGuard emailed WarRoom.org and sent a contact form message to ConservativeFiringLine.com seeking comment in November 2022, but did not receive a response.

MYTH: A USPS vehicle caught on fire in Georgia, destroying absentee ballots

Officials from Georgia’s secretary of state’s office have confirmed that while a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) vehicle was damaged by fire on Oct. 24, 2022, no absentee ballots were destroyed in that fire.

On Oct. 24, 2022, the sheriff’s office in Baker County — a county in southwestern Georgia, near the Florida border — announced on Facebook that a Jeep carrying U.S. mail caught on fire, burning several pieces of mail. (Jeeps are sometimes used for postal office deliveries in rural areas, according to the Manhattan Mercury, a local newspaper in Kansas.)

One day later, Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, announced at a news conference that at the time of the fire, there were still 43 mail-in ballots that Baker County had not yet received.

“We’re working with USPS to see if they have images of what might have been on that truck to try to re-issue them, worse comes to worst, the county will reissue the 43 ballots,” Sterling said.

Sterling’s statement did not stop some news sites from definitively claiming that ballots were destroyed. FlagAndCross.com and USSANews.com both published the same Oct. 26, 2022, story titled “Mail-In Ballots Go Up in Flames After Post Office Vehicle Fire.” (The story itself quoted from a Fox5Atlanta.com article saying the USPS vehicle was “potentially carrying absentee ballots.”)

Several Twitter users also claimed or implied that the fire was likely an effort to meddle in Georgia’s midterm elections. For example, one user stated “And what happened to all the ballots that burned up in the ‘accidental’ USPS truck fire in Georgia???” while another wrote “Probably all republican ballots.”

On Oct. 27, 2022, Georgia secretary of state spokesman Mike Hassinger told The Associated Press that the fire had not destroyed any ballots. Sterling tweeted the following day: “As a follow up from the reports earlier this week on the USPS Jeep fire in Baker County. The review has let us know that there were NO ballots on the truck. There had been 43 outstanding ballots to be returned. There is no impact on voting.”

FlagAndCross.com is one site that promoted the claim about the destruction of ballots in Georgia. NewsGuard sent a contact form to the site in November 2022, but did not receive a response. However, the same day NewsGuard sent its contact form message, FlagAndCross.com added an editor’s note to the top of its story: “UPDATE 11/4/2022:  Officials have confirmed that no ballots were damaged in the mail truck fire detailed below.”

MYTH: The Electronic Registration Information Center is a Soros-funded, leftist group

In the runup to the 2022 midterm elections, several NewsGuard Red-rated sites published articles advancing false claims about the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a nonprofit consortium of state election officials who share voter registration and driver license data in an effort to maintain clean voter roles. The nonprofit also helps member states contact potentially eligible but unregistered voters and provide them with instructions on how to register. 

The sites have claimed that the organization — whose board is composed of Republican and Democratic state election officials — is actually a Democratic front for voter fraud and that it is financially backed by billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros.

In fact, ERIC is funded by the dues paid by its 33 member states and Washington, D.C., which pay a one-time, $25,000 new membership fee as well as annual dues ranging from $26,000 to $116,000, depending on the population of each state, according to the organization’s site. ERIC’s 2021 financial statement shows that it reported $971,244 in revenue that year, all of which came from membership dues and interest.

The claim that Soros funds ERIC is a misrepresentation of the organization’s start-up funding. Formed in 2012, ERIC received a $138,000 grant from the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts, according to its U.S. Internal Revenue Service filings from that year. In 2011, Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society provided two grants totaling $525,000 to Pew Charitable Trusts for voter registration initiatives, none of which went to ERIC, a Pew Charitable Trusts spokesperson told KGW, a Portland, Oregon-based NBC affiliate, in November 2022. 

Indeed, a NewsGuard review of tax filings from the Foundation to Promote Open Society, ERIC, Soros’ Open Society Foundations, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, shows that Soros has never directly funded ERIC. Moreover, Pew Charitable Trusts has not given money to ERIC since 2019, when it provided a $288,000 grant for technology upgrades. 

In April 2022, Shane Hamlin, ERIC’s executive editor, told VoteBeat.org, a nonprofit news organization covering elections and voting, that Soros has never directly donated to the organization.

State officials have made the same point. “First and foremost, ERIC was not founded nor funded by George Soros, and to claim otherwise is either dishonest or misinformed,” Alabama Republican Secretary of State John Merrill wrote in a February 2022 online statement

100PercentFedUp.com, GospelNewsNetwork.org, NaturalNews.com, and SurviveTheNews.com were among the sites that promoted this claim. NewsGuard emailed these sites in November 2022, but did not receive a response.

MYTH: Michigan absentee ballot confusion reveals election fraud

Some Michigan voters who arrived at a Detroit polling station on Nov. 8, 2022, and had yet to vote were told that they had already cast absentee ballots, prompting some right-wing sites and Republican politicians to blame the confusion on election fraud.

“Voters show up — only to be told they already voted absentee. It’s already happening. This is a CRIME, not an oversight,” Kristina Karamo, a candidate for Michigan’s Secretary of State, tweeted alongside a clip of a television segment about the ballot confusion.

TheGatewayPundit.com and USSANews.com, sites that NewsGuard has found to repeatedly publish false content, published identical articles on the same day stating, “On Tuesday morning Kristina Karamo reported that voters in Michigan are being told they already voted. The Fix Is In.”

Jake Rollow, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State, told Fox 2 Detroit that misleading error messages on the polling station laptops had incorrectly indicated that some Detroit voters had already cast absentee ballots. The laptops flagged some of the ballot numbers that were generated for in-person voters as being identical to the numbers for absentee ballots that had already been issued, the city elections department said in a Nov. 8 statement.

The Detroit Clerk’s Office said that when the error messages appeared, election officials then correctly checked voters in on a paper backup list and issued ballots. Fox 2 Detroit reported in the Nov. 8, 2022, TV segment that election officials had promised that anyone who showed up would be allowed to vote. No Detroit voters said that this issue prevented them from voting.

Sites that promoted this claim include USSANews.com, FreedomRockRadio.co, and TheRightSway.com. NewsGuard emailed FreedomRockRadio.co and sent contact form messages to USSANews.com and TheRightSway.com in November 2022, but did not receive a response.

MYTH: Delays in tallying up votes after election night are indicative of fraud

Delays in counting mail-in and other ballots are commonplace and are not indicative of fraud, according to a wide range of voting experts and groups, fact-checking organizations, and media outlets. Indeed, the delays are built into the system.

For example, laws in most states prohibit the tabulation of mailed ballots prior to Election Day, leading to delayed results. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 39 states, including the political battlegrounds Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, do not allow mailed ballots to be counted before Election Day.

Moreover, according to the NCSL, 19 states allow postmarked mail-in ballots to be counted after Election Day, which can further delay the outcomes of tight races. 

In races where a significant number of ballots are cast by mail, a phenomenon known as a “red mirage” may occur — referring to when early results based on the tabulation of in-person ballots give the impression of a Republican lead, later to be diminished by the counting of mailed ballots disproportionately favoring Democrats.  

During the 2020 U.S. presidential election, then-President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the election was stolen from him overnight, as his early lead in some states dwindled and then disappeared. The claim that a lag in tabulating ballots was evidence of a Democratic plot to rig the election in their favor spread widely online in 2020, boosted by Donald Trump’s repeated, baseless claims of election fraud. In 2022, the claims resurfaced, this time to preemptively suggest or claim fraud even before the Nov. 8 election had occurred. 

For example, during the Nov. 2, 2022, episode of the Fox News program “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” host Tucker Carlson criticized U.S. President Joe Biden for “telling you that thanks to the changes, the many changes Democrats have made to our system of voting, all of which make voter fraud easier to commit, we may not know the results of the elections for a few days.” 

Sites promoting this claim include AmericanThinker.com, FrontPageMag.com, PJMedia.com, and TheFederalist.com. NewsGuard emailed these sites in November 2022, but did not receive a response.

MYTH: A video shows a U.S. poll worker rigging ballots on live television

On Nov. 8, 2022, a clip of a Wisconsin poll worker writing on a ballot circulated on Twitter, Reddit, Truth Social, and Telegram, alongside claims that the video showed election-rigging. “Rigging ballots live on TV,” Twitter user @Real_RobN captioned the clip in a tweet that accumulated more than 20,000 likes.

The video was published by Russian-language websites, and was shared to Telegram by Russian state-owned Channel One TV host Vladimir Solovyov, who stated, “During the congressional elections in the US, an employee at a polling station was spotted putting ticks on ballots.”

In fact, the clip shows the Madison, Wisconsin, poll worker verifying ballots and writing his initials on each one, which is part of normal election procedures in the state, not “rigging elections,” according to Dane County officials. 

According to a NewsGuard reverse image search, the clip was taken from a Nov. 8, 2022, segment of “The Faulkner Focus” on Fox News, which aired a live clip of a polling station in Wisconsin.

“This poll worker is doing the boring routine work of initialing ballots and circling the ward number to hand to voters so they can vote,” Dane County clerk Scott McDonell wrote in a Nov. 8, 2022, tweet.

Indeed, Wisconsin election code requires that ballot inspectors “write their initials on the back of each ballot” and deliver it to each elector. The Madison city clerk explained the procedure in a Nov. 8, 2022, tweet, writing that prior to issuing a ballot to a voter, two election officials apply their initials in the “Ballot Issued By” section.

Experts have also stated that the video does not show election wrongdoing. University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Barry Burden told the Associated Press on Nov. 8, 2022, that the video shows a poll worker following standard election procedures.

MYTH: Tabulation errors in Maricopa County, Arizona, are evidence of election fraud

Tabulation problems at approximately 20 percent of Maricopa County’s 233 voting locations in the 2022 midterm elections were the result of a technical printer issue, not fraud, county election officials told NewsGuard.

“It appears some of the printers were not producing dark enough timing marks on the ballots,” Maricopa County spokeswoman Amy Bolton told NewsGuard in a Nov. 8, 2022, emailed statement. She added that county technicians were able to resolve the issue by changing the printer settings at 17 locations, and that “technicians deployed throughout the county are working to resolve this issue at the remaining locations.”

Early on Nov. 8, conservative commentators including Charlie Kirk, Benny Johnson, and Tyler Bowyer shared videos on Twitter of poll workers in Arizona explaining that tabulators were not properly functioning. Hours later, several NewsGuard Red-rated websites began citing the videos of poll workers to baselessly claim that election officials were committing fraud. “They are stealing this right before our very eyes,” stated a Nov. 8 article from the GellerReport.com. A Nov. 8 BeforeItsNews.com article stated, ”Ballots being ‘misread.’ This is how elections are stolen.”

There is no evidence that the tabulation errors resulted from fraud. In a Nov. 8 video uploaded to Twitter, Maricopa County Elections Department chairman Bill Gates and county recorder Stephen Richer, both of whom are Republicans, stressed that while tabulators at multiple polling sites were experiencing technical issues, voters were given the option of visiting another polling location, or placing their paper ballot in a secure dropbox attached to the tabulators labeled “Box 3.” Ballots placed in that box would be tabulated the next morning, according to a Nov. 8 tweet from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.

“Everyone is still … able to vote,” Gates told KPNX, a Phoenix-based NBC affiliate. “No one is being disenfranchised. None of this indicates any fraud.” An unnamed senior official with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency told CNBC on Nov. 8 that the technical issues “should not affect anybody’s ability to cast a ballot,” noting that Arizona is an “all-paper ballot state.”

While speaking to reporters on Nov. 8, Lake criticized her opponent, Katie Hobbs, for running for governor while overseeing Arizona’s elections as secretary of state, and suggested she played a role in the tabulation errors. “I think she should have recused herself. She’s unethical, she’s incompetent,” Lake said. 

Other Republican figures including U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also alleged that Hobbs was responsible for the issues with tabulators. “It is unfortunate we have a 20% tabulator failure rate-@katiehobbs had one job—make sure the tabulators were in working order.  She failed and now there are legitimate integrity concerns,” Gosar wrote in a Nov. 8 tweet. 

Although Hobbs oversees and certifies Arizona’s elections as secretary of state, she is not directly in charge of voting equipment, and elections are administered at the county level. The election director of each county is responsible for ballot tabulation, overseeing polling locations, and conducting logistical and accuracy testing on voting equipment, according to the Arizona Clean Elections Commission. Arizona state law says the secretary of state’s primary duties include publishing a procedures manual, certifying results after they have been tabulated, and approving vote counting systems.

Sites promoting the claim about Maricopa County voting include GellerReport.com, BeforeItsNews.com, and En-Volve.com. NewsGuard sent emails to these sites in November 2022, but did not receive a response.

MYTH: Sharpie pens were improperly used to vote in Illinois

On Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022, social media users claimed that voters were improperly using sharpie pens to vote in Illinois.

“La Grange [Illinois] Precinct 89 voters report sharpies being used on ballots, which isn’t allowed. NO SHARPIES ON BALLOTS,” the Twitter account run by Awake Illinois, a conservative activist group, tweeted. “Sharpie fraud in Illinois,” user @RoBoCo_2 posted on Twitter.

Other users claimed that sharpies would bleed through the ballots, rendering them invalid. “Why does Illinois have a double-sided ballot and then demand voters use a sharpie that will undoubtedly lead through the paper causing the ballot invalid? Why is this ok?” Truth Social user @CARDINALSARERED posted.

In fact, it is legal to vote with sharpie pens in Illinois, and the ballots are designed so that the ink does not bleed through. In response to Awake Illinois’ tweet, the Illinois State Board of Elections tweeted on Nov. 8, 2022, “Sharpies are an approved ballot marking device for many voting systems.”

In a follow-up tweet posted the same day, the Illinois State Board of Elections stated, “The ballots are intentionally designed so that bleedthrough does not cause a problem. The target ovals on one side [of a ballot] don’t overlap on the other side.”

On Nov. 8 2022, Max Bever, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, told WTTW-TV, a PBS-affiliated station, that if ballots are “contaminated” by a bleedthrough a voter will receive a new ballot.

During the 2020 election, similar false claims were made about sharpies being improperly used in Illinois. In November 2020, the Illinois State Board of Elections published a press release stating “Ballots in Illinois are designed so that the ‘target area’ — the oval to be filled in to mark a vote — on one side of a ballot does not align with a target area on the reverse side of the ballot. Thus, a vote on the reverse side could not be accidentally cast by ink soaking through.”

MYTH: A photograph shows Dr. Mehmet Oz posing with a campaign sign that says “No”

On Aug. 12, 2022, Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for one of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seats, posed for a photograph at a campaign stop with staff at the Capitol Diner in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press.

The image taken at the event, and which was uploaded to Oz’s social media accounts, shows Oz posing next to a campaign sign that was positioned horizontally and read “Oz.” Oz’s social media posts said: “From the dinner table to the Capitol Diner here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvanians are ready for new leadership. I’ll fight for PA small businesses in the U.S. Senate.” Fact-checkers with USA Today and Reuters later reported that this was the original version of the photo.

Soon after Oz’s campaign stop, however, an altered version of the photo was shared widely on Twitter and Facebook, in which the sign that said “Oz” was rotated so that it appeared to say “No.” One Aug. 28, 2022, Twitter post contained the altered image and the caption, “Dr. Oz gets trolled everywhere he goes and it makes me so happy.”

Katya Rodriquez, the Capitol Diner staff member who held the sign in the photo, told the AP that she was holding it horizontally — accurately spelling Oz’s last name — when the photo was taken. Oz’s senior communications advisor, Rachel Tripp, also told the AP that she took the photo, and that the sign was rotated correctly.

MYTH: Arizona Democrat Katie Hobbs staged a burglary at her campaign headquarters

The Phoenix campaign headquarters of Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs was burglarized on Oct. 24, 2022, according to police reports

Hobbs’ campaign manager, Nicole DeMont, suggested in a statement issued on Oct. 26, 2022, that the break-in resulted from the rhetoric of Hobbs’ opponent, Republican Kari Lake. “Secretary Hobbs and her staff have faced hundreds of death threats and threats of violence over the course of this campaign,” DeMont said. “Let’s be clear: for nearly two years Kari Lake and her allies have been spreading dangerous misinformation and inciting threats against anyone they see fit.” DeMont did not specify what “misinformation” he was referring to. 

When a reporter asked Lake about DeMont’s claim that same day, Lake replied: “That is absolutely absurd. And are you guys buying that? Are you really buying that? Because this sounds like ‘a Jussie Smollett’ part two.”

Many observers interpreted Lake’s reference to Jussie Smollett — an actor convicted in Chicago in December 2021 of faking a hate crime against himself — as a suggestion that Hobbs faked the incident. Indeed, multiple social media users claimed that Hobbs may have orchestrated the break-in to gain sympathy from voters. 

For example, an Oct. 27, 2022, tweet by conservative pundit Carmine Sabia said, “What a coincidence that Katie Hobbs is pulling a Jussie Smollett because she is getting her clock cleaned by @KariLake. And the media is promoting it.” 

Some conservative websites also speculated that Hobbs staged the burglary. An Oct. 28 post on InstaPundit.com stated, “FALSE FLAG? Hobbs Blames Lake For Burglary, Then Dodges.” StateoftheNation.co said in the headline of an Oct. 30, 2022, article: “First she [Hobbs] stages a transparent burglary hoax, then she falsely accuses frontrunner Kari Lake of involvement.”There is no evidence that Hobbs staged the burglary (nor is there evidence that Lake’s rhetoric led to the break-in). An Oct. 27 statement from the Phoenix Police Department said that a 36-year-old named Daniel Mota Dos Reis was arrested in the case, after security cameras recorded him breaking into the campaign office. Police also said that Dos Reis had property stolen from Hobbs’ office in his possession when he was first arrested.

MYTH: A Wisconsin city used illegal mobile voting trucks ahead of the August 2022 primary election

On July 30, 2022, The Gateway Pundit, which has a history of publishing misinformation about U.S. politics, reported on a mobile voting truck in Racine, Wisconsin, and falsely claimed that no observers were allowed inside ahead of the state’s Aug. 9, 2022, primary. 

“Soon Democrats will steal and manufacture all of their ghost votes by mobile precincts. You don’t have to be a genius to see that happening. City volunteers and staff work in the buses. But no GOP observers,” The Gateway Pundit stated. On Aug. 13, 2022, The Gateway Pundit published another article about the mobile voting truck, titled “Racine, Wisconsin Used Illegal Mobile Voting Sites in Recent Primary – Same District Where Corrupt GOP Speaker Robin Vos Pulled a 260 Vote Win.”

An August 2022 article by The Associated Press explained that the truck is staffed by city election officials and follows Wisconsin state laws for early-voting sites. According to The AP, the truck is primarily used for early in-person voting starting two weeks before an election, in compliance with Wisconsin state law. 

Contrary to some claims that spread online, the truck is not a ballot drop box. Unlike ballot drop boxes, the truck is staffed and is only open at certain times during the day. Racine City Clerk Tara McMenamin also told The Associated Press that observers are allowed inside the truck.

Sites that have promoted this claim include TheGatewayPundit.com, ConservativePlaylist.com, and FreedomsPhoenix.com. NewsGuard emailed these sites in November and October 2022. None responded.

MYTH: Maricopa County officials tried to rig Arizona’s 2022 primary election by providing felt-tip pens to voters

 

Ahead of Arizona’s August 2022 primary election, the Maricopa County Elections Department announced that in-person voters would be supplied with Pentel felt-tip pens on Election Day instead of Sharpies. 

Hours after the county’s announcement, websites and social media posts claimed that the felt-tip pens were part of a plot to rig Arizona’s elections. For example, a July 2022 article published by StopTheRinos.com, a site funded by the Patriot Party of Arizona Political Action Committee, stated, “#PentelGate is the hot new trend for 2022!! The #Uniparty is rigging the election…again.” It added, “bleed-through on ballots provides the opportunity for fraud.”

There is no evidence that the felt-tip pens supplied at polling centers were “rigging the election” or that they invalidated any ballots. Maricopa County officials switched to felt-tip pens because the ink dries quickly and reduces smudging, resulting in reduced wait times at the polls, according to a July 2022 press release from the county’s elections department.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer told The Associated Press that while both Sharpies and Pentel pens have fast-drying ink, tests showed that felt-tip pens cause less bleed-through. Even in cases of bleed-through, ballots are designed with offset columns to ensure that votes are not impacted, according to the county’s website.

Maricopa election officials say that although bleed-throughs do not impact vote counting, the county decided to stop using Sharpies due to the controversy the markers caused during the 2020 election, when false claims surfaced alleging that Arizona election officials gave Republican voters Sharpies to invalidate their ballots. In a November 2020 letter, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors stated that “Sharpies do not invalidate ballots” and that processes are in place to ensure that bleed-through does not impact votes.

StopTheRinos.com is one site that promoted this claim. The site did not respond to a NewsGuard email in November 2022 seeking comment.

MYTH: Fraud prevented Tina Peters from winning Colorado’s 2022 Republican primary for secretary of state

Peters, the El Paso (Colo.) County Clerk and Recorder, lost the June 2022 primary by a sizable margin. She finished second with approximately 180,000 votes, or 28.9 percent of the vote, according to official results available through the Colorado secretary of state’s website. Pam Anderson, a former city and county clerk, won with approximately 269,000 votes, or 43.1 percent, according to the official results.

After the results were tallied, Peters tweeted: “We didn’t lose. We just found more fraud,” NPR reported. Similar claims were repeated on conservative news sites found by NewsGuard to repeatedly publish false content.

For example, in a July 29, 2022, video published on FrankSpeech.com, site (and MyPillow) owner Mike Lindell said: “They cheated [Peters], amongst many others in these primaries. We’re going to get to the bottom of it. She won and we know it.”

However, a risk-limiting audit and a recount confirmed Peters’ defeat. Between July 11 and July 14, 2022, Colorado counties audited Peters’ race and other contests by inspecting a small percentage of ballots and checking how election software recorded those votes. 

The secretary of state’s office said in a July 25, 2022, news release: “The reported winner in all the audited races was confirmed.” Upon Peters’ request, Colorado subsequently conducted a recount, which also confirmed Peters’ defeat, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in an Aug. 4, 2022, news release.

FrankSpeech.com is one site that promoted this claim. Site owner Mike Lindell told NewsGuard in an August 2022 phone call: “[Peters] won it and that will be proven. That will be proven.”

MYTH: A local TV station in Michigan reported the state’s primary election results in advance

 

News Channel 3 (WWMT) inadvertently posted a trial run of its election coverage nine days before Michigan’s August 2022 primary election, showing random vote counts for Republican gubernatorial and congressional candidates. Almost immediately, fringe news outlets and social media users claimed that the error was indicative of fraud.

On July 24, 2022, The Gateway Pundit published an article titled “CAUGHT: Michigan News Channel Posts Results to Republican Primary Election — That’s Not Until Next Week!!” The article did not actually claim that the station’s move was evidence of fraud. Nevertheless, dozens of websites and social media users, citing The Gateway Pundit, then began advancing the false claim. One undated article on WeLoveTrump.com said: “Are the results to each election already written before the voting even takes place? This may lead you to believe the answer to that question is yes.”

However, WWMT clarified in a July 25 article that the mock results were part of an internal test of its election reporting systems. “In advance of Michigan’s Tuesday, Aug. 2 primary election, News Channel 3 was conducting a test of its election systems last week,” WWMT said in a statement on its website. “In doing so, the station inadvertently published mock results on WWMT.com. The numbers used were randomly generated and did not reflect actual results.”

Michigan’s Department of State also issued a July 25 statement, clarifying that it was not involved in the test: “Supposed ‘results’ of the Aug. 2 Michigan primary election from WWMT TV-3 appearing online and in Google search results are not real. No votes have been counted in the election.”

WeLoveTrump.com is one site that promoted this claim. The site did not respond to a contact form from NewsGuard in October 2022 seeking comment.

MYTH: The U.S. Emergency Alert System is on standby in case Democrats steal the 2022 midterm elections

 

The claim that former President Donald Trump sought to mobilize the military ahead of the midterm elections apparently originated on RealRawNews.com, a website that regularly publishes false stories about U.S. politics. A Sept. 18, 2022, story on the site, titled “EAS on Standby for Midterms,” claimed that “Trump said the military must use the EAS if the Deep State steals the midterms, for the results will affect the 2024 presidential election.” 

There is no evidence that former President Trump has instructed the military to trigger the Emergency Alert System (EAS), and he lacks the authority to do so anyway. Trump has not made any public comments about this subject, and a Pentagon spokesperson told fact-checking organization CheckYourFact.com that the claim is “false.”

EAS is a national public warning system jointly operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service. It is not run by the U.S. military. The system is commonly used to broadcast urgent emergency information, such as weather and Amber alerts.

Sites that have promoted this claim include BestNewsHere.com, RestoredRepublic.co, and RealRawNews.com. BestNewsHere.com and RestoredRepublic.co did not respond to a November 2022 email and RealRawNews.com did not respond to a November 2022 contact form from NewsGuard seeking comment.

MYTH: Beto O’Rourke campaign workers raided nursing homes to steal votes from the infirm and elderly

 

On Oct. 1, 2022, a video appearing to show an interaction between two canvassers for Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for Texas governor and an assisted living facility resident began circulating on social media. 

On Oct. 4, 2022, NewsGuard found that The Gateway Pundit reported on the video in an article titled “CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Beto O’Rourke Campaign Workers Raid Assisted Living Facility Hunting for Votes – Democrats Stealing Votes from the Weak and Elderly.”

“An assisted living resident is confronted by Beto O’Rourke campaign workers who are raiding nursing homes to steal votes from the weak and elderly,” the article stated. The story was republished in full on multiple fringe websites

The video, which was reviewed by NewsGuard, begins with one of the canvassers saying, “We’re talking to our neighbors just to make sure you know there’s an election coming up, and we want to encourage you to vote for Beto at the top of the ballot for governor on down.” An apparent assisted living facility resident —  a man who appears confused for much of the encounter — then asked, “Who do you want me to vote for?” The canvasser responded, “We recommend that you vote Democratic from the top to the bottom.”

Later in the video, the canvasser told the man to “Definitely vote for Beto” and two other Democrats, appearing to point to their names on a pamphlet.

Despite The Gateway Pundit’s claims, the canvassers’ actions appear to comply with state and federal laws, and is not evidence of “stealing votes,” as Gateway Pundit claimed. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly reaffirmed the right of individuals to go door-to-door for political activity. Moreover, federal and Texas law allows canvassers to enter private property — including nursing homes and assisted living facilities — as long as it is between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and the canvasser has permission to enter the property. Canvassers are legally allowed to distribute campaign literature in person or to leave it in a place that is easily visible to voters.

Sites that have promoted this claim include StateOfTheNation.co, SurvivalMagazine.org, and BasedUnderground.com. The first two sites did not respond to an email from NewsGuard in November 2022, and BasedUnderground.com did not respond to a contact form submitted that month. Another site that promoted this claim, HeartlandDaily.com, does not provide for a way to contact the site.

MYTH: A video shows election officials in Washington state illegally closing ballot drop boxes

 

Days after Washington’s Aug. 2, 2022, primary election, video surfaced of a woman driving up to a ballot box in Clark County and interacting with an election worker holding a blue bag and collecting ballots. In the video, the election worker tells the woman in her car that she can drop off her ballot in the bag or leave it in the ballot drop box.

Captions of the video that were shared on social media stated that the election worker “illegally” closed the ballot drop box 30 minutes prior to the 8 p.m. deadline, and cited the interaction as evidence of election wrongdoing. A July 2022 caption of the video on Twitter stated: “ILLEGAL: Clark County election workers closed the ballot drop boxes 30 mins prior to closing. All citizens of Washington state are granted by law to drop their ballots by 8 pm on the dot…Demand a revote!”

However, Washington state and Clark County officials told news outlets, including The Associated Press, that the video shows an election worker providing extra ballot collection support — a standard practice under Washington’s state election law — and not “illegally” closing a ballot drop box 30 minutes early. 

The Washington Secretary of State’s director of external affairs, Charles Boisner, told fact-checking website Lead Stories in an Aug. 15, 2022, article: “The election workers were doing their job staffing the drop box site to help save time and relieve congestion, especially at a busy location.” Clark County Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber told Reuters in August 2022 that starting at 7:30 p.m. on Election Night, the county instructs staff members at ballot deposit sites to gather ballots into a secured bag to allow the voting line to move more quickly. “All ballots received from the boxes and voters are placed in official bags and sealed with accountability seals before they leave the drop box location,” Garber told Reuters.

MYTH: House Democrats voted to allow non-citizens to vote in U.S. elections

 

On Sept. 21, 2022, House Judiciary Committee Democrats voted down a Republican amendment to a Democratic bill that would provide grants for states to distribute translated voting materials. The bill would also commission a study on the impact of making election materials more readily available and providing them in multiple languages. The proposed amendment, introduced by Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, stated that nothing in the bill should be construed as allowing non-citizens to vote in federal, state, and local elections.

The amendment was rejected by the Judiciary Committee, with 21 Democrats opposing the proposal and 12 Republicans supporting it. Democrats said it was redundant and therefore unnecessary. The bill “would not change a single practical aspect about federal law applicable to non-citizen voting,” Daniel Rubin, a Democratic aide to the Judiciary Committee, told Reuters.

Shortly after the vote, the Twitter account for House Judiciary Committee Republicans posted: “#BREAKING: Judiciary Democrats just voted to support NON-CITIZENS voting in our elections. There’s no hiding it. Democrats WANT non-citizens voting in our elections.”

Some conservative websites echoed the claim. For example, NOQReport.com, a site that NewsGuard has found to repeatedly publish false content, published an article stating: “The House Judiciary voted to allow non-citizens to vote….”  WeLoveTrump.com stated: “In a proposed amendment to House Resolution 8770, Democrat judiciary committee members supported a measure allowing non-citizens to vote in our elections.”

As Democrats noted during the Sept. 21, 2022, committee meeting, federal law currently prohibits non-citizens from voting in federal elections — and nothing in the proposed measure would change that.

NewsGuard reviewed the text of the bill and did not find any provisions that could be fairly interpreted as allowing non-citizens to vote. The proposed bill did not address expanding voting rights for non-citizens or undocumented immigrants, and in fact, did not mention non-citizens or undocumented immigrants at all. 

Sites that promoted this claim included NOQReport.com, AmericaFirstReport.com, and YourNews.com. NOQReport.com and AmericaFirstReport.com, which share an owner, did not respond to an October 2022 email from NewsGuard seeking comment on this claim. YourNews.com did not respond to a November 2022 email.

MYTH: The CEO of Michigan software company Konnech was involved in a voter fraud scheme

 

Eugene Yu, the founder and chief executive of Konnech, an election management software company based in East Lansing, Michigan, was arrested on Oct. 4, 2022, on suspicion of stealing Los Angeles (California) County poll workers’ personal information. 

In October 2020, Los Angeles County signed a five-year, $2.9 million contract with Konnech to use its election worker management system called PollChief, which helps election administrators track poll workers’ schedules, payrolls, and communications, according to the Konnech website. While Konnech was contractually required to keep poll workers’ personal information in the U.S., the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office alleged that the information was instead stored on servers in China.

After Yu’s arrest, the conspiracy-oriented websites NOQReport.com and RedVoiceMedia.com, among others, published an op-ed by NOQReport.com editor-in-chief J.D. Rucker that called Konnech “the company that appears to be at the heart of the voter fraud that stole the 2020 election.”

However, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office emphasized in a statement that the data potentially stored on Chinese servers could not have impacted the result of the 2020 election. “This investigation is concerned solely with the personal identifying information of election workers,” the statement said. “In this case, the alleged conduct had no impact on the tabulation of votes and did not alter election results.”

Sites that have promoted this claim include JDRucker.Substack.com, Treason.news, AmericaOutLoud.com, and RedVoiceMedia.com. JDRucker.Substack.com and Treason.news both did not respond to a NewsGuard email in November 2022 and AmericaOutLoud.com did not respond to a contact form from NewsGuard in November 2022. Asked about the story on RedVoiceMedia.com, site co-owner Raymond Dietrich told NewsGuard in an October 2022 email: “We don’t answer to communist fact checkers, have a good day.”

MYTH: An investigation into a Dominion error code revealed that 97% of Georgia counties miscounted ballots

 

The claim originated from a little-known organization called the Election Oversight Group, whose research was cited in an Oct. 4, 2022, article by Kanekoa News, an anonymously run digital newsletter with the tagline: “Investigative Journalism. Censored Topics. America First.” Kanekoa News’s article, titled “Bombshell Dominion ‘Error Code’ Uncovered in 97% of Georgia Counties,” reported that the Election Oversight Group obtained records proving that seven ballot scanners in Williamson County, Tennessee, miscounted hundreds of ballots in a 2021 county election.

After the Election Oversight Group learned of the so-called “Tennessee Error,” it found that the error had occurred during 2020 and 2022 primary elections in 64 of the 66 Georgia counties for which the group was able to obtain records, according to Kanekoa News.

However, while error codes were indeed reported in Tennessee’s October 2021 election, all ballots were counted, according to a final report and press release on the issue by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which earlier this year investigated the alleged discrepancies. The EAC also said that the issue occurred in only one Tennessee county and did not impact the state’s election results.  (The EAC is a bipartisan, independent federal agency focused on monitoring adherence to the 2002 Help America Vote Act, according to the EAC’s website.) 

“The anomaly in Tennessee resulted in valid ballots being sorted into a provisional ballot category,” the EAC stated in an April 1, 2022, press release. “A real time hand-recount ensured that the election remained accurate and secure. … There are no other reports of this anomaly, aside from the isolated incident in Tennessee.” 

Multiple experts also told fact-checking website LeadStories.com in October 2022 that the error message does not mean that the results of the Georgia elections were compromised in any way. When a QR code error appears, Lead Stories reported, poll workers either rescan the ballot or count it by hand.

MYTH: As a state senator, Katie Hobbs voted to eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance from Arizona schools

In September 2022, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake posted a three-minute video on Twitter, stating that her Democratic opponent, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, previously voted to block historic U.S. documents from being taught in Arizona schools. “As a legislator, Hobbs actually voted to block the Pledge of Allegiance, our National Anthem, our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and even the Mayflower Compact from being taught to the next generation of Americans right here in Arizona,” Lake said in the video. As evidence, Lake cited Hobbs’s 2018 vote against a measure in the state Senate.

Numerous conservative websites reported on Lake’s claim about Hobbs’ voting record without challenging it, but the claim is false. In 2018, a bill in Arizona was signed into law that amended the list of U.S. history materials that teachers are allowed to read or display in their classrooms. It is true that Hobbs, at the time a state senator, voted against the bill. However, under pre-existing Arizona law, that list of acceptable materials already included the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. Senate Bill 1289 added Arizona’s state motto, “Ditat Deus,” meaning “God Enriches,” to the list. The approved list of materials that teachers can read and post in Arizona schools also already included the national motto. The bill simply proposed including the actual language of the motto — “In God We Trust” — instead of just referring to it generally.

NewsGuard reviewed the text of Senate Bill 1289 and found that the bill did not alter the portion of the law that already allowed teachers to read or post the Pledge of Allegiance, the U.S. Constitution, the National Anthem, and the Declaration of Independence. Thus, if the bill had failed, it would not have kept the Pledge of Allegiance and the other texts cited by Lake out of Arizona schools.

Lake’s campaign did not respond to NewsGuard’s inquiries about the matter. However, Lake defended her original claim in a Sept. 21, 2022, tweet, stating, “We didn’t put clips of all of the bills that we referred to in that video. We are referring to SB1289, SB1152 and SB1020. Between those three bills she was opposed to displaying the American flag, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution.” 

Lake’s tweet did not specify in which legislative session the two additional bills, Senate Bill 1152 and Senate Bill 1020, originated. It appears she was referring to a bill introduced in 2011 that primarily clarified that “home schools” are a form of non-public education, and that made other technical changes related to the use of the U.S. founding documents in classrooms. For example, the bill proposed changing a provision stating that school districts “shall purchase” the founding documents to a requirement that they “acquire” the materials.  The other bill proposed changes to sex education in public schools. 

Neither measure in any way would have prevented the teaching of the U.S. founding documents in Arizona schools.