- MYTH: A France 2 video showed that more than 1 million votes for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen disappeared on April 24, 2022, before the final result of France’s presidential election was announced.
- MYTH: A CNews screenshot shows that the Ukrainian president and the German chancellor congratulated Macron on his reelection a day before he was actually reelected, which proves that fraud occurred.
- MYTH: Bugs affecting electronic voting machines favored Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the 2022 presidential election.
- MYTH: Before the second round of the election, an online video found evidence of electoral fraud involving ripped ballots that were sent out to some voters in the mail.
- MYTH: A foreign poll predicted that Macron would be defeated in his bid for reelection by 61 percent.
- MYTH: Macron came in first in 67.2 percent of electronic voting machines in the first round of the 2022 presidential election, which shows that machines were used to fraudulently favor Macron.
- MYTH: Results of the first round of the presidential election were unlawfully announced while some voters were still waiting in line to vote.
- MYTH: In the first round of the 2022 presidential election, electoral fraud was attempted when ballots for Éric Zemmour were marked so that they would be rejected under French electoral rules.
- MYTH: Macron could use the Ukraine war as a pretext to delay or cancel the French presidential election.
- MYTH: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the French people to vote for Macron.
- MYTH: Voters without a COVID-19 vaccine pass will not be allowed inside polling sites.
- MYTH: In November 2021, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced the implementation of electronic voting for the 2022 presidential election.
- MYTH: Dominion Voting Systems, a software company that former U.S. president Donald Trump and his supporters accused falsely of having deleted or switched votes in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, was selected to count votes in the 2022 French presidential election.
- MYTH: Emmanuel Macron was wrongly credited with coming in first in the first round of the 2017 French presidential election, because of electronic voting companies Dominion and Scytl, which means that Macron’s five-year term was illegitimate.
- MYTH: In March 2022, a new poll said Éric Zemmour would win the presidential election.
- MYTH: CNN reported on the McKinsey scandal, while the French media was silent.
MYTH: A France 2 video showed that more than 1 million votes for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen disappeared on April 24, 2022, before the final result of France’s presidential election was announced.
THE FACTS: Shortly after French President Emmanuel Macron defeated Le Pen on April, 24, 2022, unsubstantiated claims of election fraud emerged, alleging that a live France 2 broadcast revealed for a short time earlier that night that Le Pen won 14,4 million votes, before she mysteriously lost about 1 million votes. The claim spread on social media platforms and on several NewsGuard Red-rated sites, such as Qactus.fr, Brujita Fr.fr and Fawkes-news.com.
In the second round of the presidential election, Le Pen won approximately 13.3 million votes, according to official data from the French Ministry of Interior. However, posts claiming election fraud presented as evidence a video clip of France 2’s live election night coverage, in which, at about 9:10 p.m. (approximately one hour after Macron was declared the winner based on an estimate by pollsters, and while votes were still being counted) an interactive graphic on screen attributed about 14.2 million votes to Macron and 14.4 million votes to Le Pen.
The next day, on April 25, 2022, France 2’s news desk stated on its Twitter account that the 14 million figure that was indeed displayed for a short while was incorrect, and was due to a computer error. “A computer error led us to display incorrect numbers during Election night on France 2, Sunday, April 24,” France 2 tweeted on April 25. “We apologize to our viewers.”
Although France 2 updated the live numbers shortly after the incident on Election night, the channel did not address the error on air during its election coverage on April 24.
France 2 added that the Interior Ministry, which provides election results, “never attributed 14 million votes” to Le Pen. “At 9:10 p.m., the screen displayed 14.2 million votes for Emmanuel Macron and 14.4 million votes for Marine Le Pen. The software that allows the channel to display data from the Interior Ministry counted some municipal votes twice for the two candidates. This error, which was noticed immediately, was then corrected.”
Archived pages of the election tally on the Ministry of the Interior’s website, accessible on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, show that votes for Le Pen never surpassed 13.3 million on Election night. At 9:21 p.m., the Ministry’s website displayed 15.9 million votes for Macron and 12.4 million votes for Le Pen.
In an April 26 email to NewsGuard responding to a question about the France 2 error, an unnamed representative of the Interior Ministry said: “During the second round of the presidential election, the transmission of results happened with no difficulty whatsoever; there was no incident report to the Interior Ministry, including from the many journalists” who received the Ministry’s feed of results data throughout the night.
MYTH: A CNews screenshot shows that the Ukrainian president and the German chancellor congratulated Macron on his reelection a day before he was actually reelected, which proves that fraud occurred.
THE FACTS: On Monday April 25, 2022, the day after Macron was reelected as president of France, multiple social media users posted a screenshot of news TV channel CNews as proof that fraud had occurred and that the election was rigged in favor of Macron before people even went to vote.
The CNews screenshot features a banner at the bottom stating: “BREAKING: Macron spoke on Saturday night with [German chancellor] Olaf Scholz and [Ukrainian President] Volodymyr Zelensky, and both congratulated him on his reelection.” Because the election took place one day later, on Sunday, some social media users saw this as proof of fraud. Several screenshots of the same image circulated online with arrows pointing to the word Saturday.
It is true that Scholz and Zelensky congratulated Macron on his reelection by phone, as several media outlets reported. But they called him on Sunday ,April 24, 2022, immediately after he was reelected, and not a day earlier.
In an April 2022 email to NewsGuard, Virginie Grandclaude, communications director at CNews, said that the screenshot shared on social media was real, but that the person at the station who wrote the bottom banner had mistakenly written Saturday instead of Sunday. The screenshot was taken from a CNews broadcast that aired on Sunday, April 24, and not at an earlier date, she added.
“It is indeed an error,” Grandclaude said. “Instead of Sunday night, they wrote Saturday night. We are sorry about that.”
MYTH: Bugs affecting electronic voting machines favored Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the 2022 presidential election.
THE FACTS: Following the second round of the 2022 presidential election, several social media users claimed that electronic voting machines had bugs or malfunctions that served to favor Emmanuel Macron. Some claimed that voting machines would not register votes for Marine Le Pen, and others said that the machines would not show voters who they had voted for.
When NewsGuard asked the Interior Ministry about these claims, an unnamed representative told NewsGuard in an April 2022 email: “The Interior Ministry has not received any reports of malfunctions having occurred on voting machines.”
The representative also noted that the French electoral code makes provisions for voters that have trouble casting their vote. Article R. 52 of the code states that “Throughout voting operations, the official record is available to the members of the polling station, candidates, substitutes and delegates of the candidates, voters at the polling station and persons in charge of the control of operations, who can make their observations or complaints.”
The Interior Ministry representative told NewsGuard that “If malfunctions are noted, they must be reported on the official records. These are reviewed by a counting commission and then by the Constitutional Council, which can take any necessary measures.”
The French Constitutional Council, the institution responsible for ensuring the regularity of the presidential election, reviews all complaints and challenges before certifying the results. On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, three days after Election Day, the Council officially declared Emmanuel Macron the French President, with 58.55 percent of the votes.
In a statement published on its website, the Council said that it had canceled 20,594 votes in 48 bureaus because of irregularities, or 0.06 percent of the total votes. “That means that as a whole, the rules of the electoral process were respected,” the statement added. The Council did not note any malfunction of electronic voting machines.
MYTH: Before the second round of the election, an online video found evidence of electoral fraud involving ripped ballots that were sent out to some voters in the mail.
THE FACTS: There is no evidence that ripped ballots were sent to French voters in an effort to rig the 2022 presidential election. This claim emerged shortly before the second round of the election, on April 24, 2022, when a YouTube user posted a video showing a man opening three envelopes containing three normal ballot papers for Macron and three slightly ripped ballots for Le Pen. These envelopes, which include election manifestos from the candidates and paper ballots with the names of each candidate, are sent to French voters a few days before an election.
The video clip, which was titled “Rigged election ballot watch out?” (“election bultin truqué attention ?”) was viewed more than 20,000 times on YouTube alone as of April 2022. It was also shared on TikTok, Telegram, and other platforms by pro-Le Pen users who claimed that the video was evidence of an ongoing fraud.
Ballots that are damaged or marked are generally considered invalid. Vie-Publique.fr, a government information site, states that “an invalid vote is a ripped or marked ballot that cannot be counted in the election results.” However, small tears on a ballot paper, as seen on the viral video, can happen because of the amount of ballots produced (200 million for the second round of the election) and are generally due to a manufacturing defect, but are not likely to invalidate the ballot, the French Ministry of Interior and the National Commission for the Control of the Electoral Campaign for the Presidential Election (CNCCEP) told NewsGuard in April 2022.
“The very small tear present on the edge of the ballots or related printing marks do not constitute a cause of invalidation,” the Ministry of Interior said in an email, when asked about the video by NewsGuard. “In addition, and this is mainly what must be taken into account, if the ballot that’s in the envelope had a defect, the voter will always have the option of using a new ballot, which is available to them in their polling site.”
Indeed, voters can use ballots received in the mail to cast their votes on Election day, or they can pick a new ballot at their voting site. The creator of the video, a resident of Romeries in the north of France, told AFP that he ended up casting a ballot that he obtained at his voting site. “I went to vote and took a ballot directly there,” he said. “The purpose of my video was mainly to warn my relatives not to use those that were ripped.”
Gaëtan Genel, a communications officer for the Nord department, told NewsGuard in an April 2022 email that only 16 towns out of the 648 municipalities in the Nord department, where the author of the video was based, received complaints about ripped ballots.
MYTH: A foreign poll predicted that Macron would be defeated in his bid for reelection by 61 percent.
THE FACTS: On April 14, 2022, between the two rounds of the French presidential election — held on April 10 and April 24, 2022 — a tweet by an anonymous Twitter user claimed that a foreign poll showed Macron losing his bid for reelection by 61 percent, contradicting national polls, which were then all predicting a Macron victory in the second round of the election. As of April 20, 2022, it had been retweeted 966 times.
The tweet featured an image of what looked like a newspaper article, with a photo of Macron under the headline “Macron defeated by 61 percent.” The tweet said: “Poll done abroad,” with no additional information.
In fact, the photo is a montage that was created with an online meme generator that is often used to create false news headlines. Fact-checkers at 20 Minutes and France 24 pointed out in April 2022 that the template for the manipulated image can be found on meme generator sites such as KnowYourMeme.com and PhotoFunia.com.
Several details on the image show that it is a fake. First, no newspaper by the name of “Le Covidien Libéré,” (“The Liberated Covidian”), which appeared on the top right-hand corner of the image, seems to exist. Also, the top left-hand corner of the image showed the newspaper dated April 25, 2022, a day after the scheduled second round of the election, and eleven days after the tweet was posted.
The user that tweeted the viral image on April 14 identified themselves on their Twitter bio as a “conservative” who “opposes progressivism.” In a tweet posted the next day, the user called the fake poll “a parody.”
According to an April 19, 2022, Reuters article, three polls for the election run-off at the time gave Macron an average score of 55.83 percent, ahead of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
MYTH: Macron came in first on 67.2 percent of electronic voting machines in the first round of the 2022 presidential election, which shows that machines were used to fraudulently favor Macron.
THE FACTS: In the days following the first round of the 2022 presidential election, many social media users and some websites claimed that Emmanuel Macron had come in first in the first round of the 2022 presidential election on 67.2 percent of electronic voting machines used for the vote in the country, implying that machines were used to fraudulently favor Macron. Many social media users appeared to base this statement on the false claim that Macron had been the top vote-getter in 41 of 64 French cities that used electronic voting machines. Other social media users also claimed that Macron had been awarded 67.2 percent of votes by electronic voting machines.
The Interior Ministry, which oversaw the organization of the election, told Libération that it had not received any alert concerning the electronic voting machines after the first round of the election, and that “no irregularity has been noted by the prefectures, the census commissions, or the Constitutional Council.”
As for the specific numbers promoted in these claims, none of them are correct. As French newspaper Libération pointed out, it is not possible to say that Macron came in first on 67.2 percent of electronic voting machines. Indeed, the Interior Ministry does not communicate voting results by voting bureau, so isolating the results from the bureaus using electronic machines is not possible.
Moreover, saying that Macron was the top vote-getter in 41 of 64 French cities that used electronic voting machines, and implying that these were therefore used to favor him over other candidates, is misleading.
Macron did come in first place in 36 of the 63 cities which used electronic voting machines, Libération reported.
However, while it is true that Macron did slightly better on average in these 63 cities than he did overall at the national level, earning 30.08 percent of the vote there, as opposed to 27.85 percent nationally, so did far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who received 23.79 percent of the votes in these cities versus 21.95 percent at the national level. Therefore, the claim that voting machines were used to fraudulently favor Macron over other candidates is false.
Macron and Mélenchon’s better-than-average performance in cities with voting machines may be explained in part by the fact that one-third of these cities are in the Ile-de-France region around Paris, where both Mélenchon and Macron each received more than 30 percent votes, according to Libération. Macron also performed poorly in some cities with electronic voting machines, including Condé-sur-l’Escaut and Marignane, where he placed a distant third behind the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and Mélenchon, or Montereau-Fault-Yonne, where he received less than 16 percent of the vote.
MYTH: Results of the round of the presidential election were unlawfully announced while some voters were still waiting in line to vote.
THE FACTS : Many journalists and voters in Paris reported hours-long waits at some voting sites during the first round of the presidential election on April 10, 2022. A video showing more than 50 voters waiting in line at a Parisian elementary school that serves as a polling site in the capital’s 18th district was shared on several social media platforms, with comments from users falsely claiming that the results were unlawfully announced while voters were waiting to vote.
Some of the posts were published with the same message, stating: “Many Parisians discover the results of the first round while they are still in line to vote!! what a sham!! this is completely illegal!! the fraud is complete!!” NewsGuard found that the video was originally posted on Twitter at 8:04 p.m. by freelance journalist Clément Lanot, who wrote in the post: “Results announcement while many people did not vote at this polling station in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.”
It is true that the presidential race was called by the media at 8 p.m., even though some voters were still waiting to cast their ballots. However, it is not evidence of fraud. The French media were required to wait until 8 p.m., when all polls had closed, before releasing preliminary election results. However, according to voting procedures, some late ballots are still accepted and counted at polling sites after that deadline.
Paris City Hall told AFP in April 2022 that “voting after 8 p.m.,” the time at which polling stations in major French cities close, “is authorized if voters were present at the polling station before 8 p.m.”
French radio station France Bleu reported that because of long waits, some voters in close to 30 polling sites in Paris voted after 8 p.m. on April 10, including in the 18th district. Camille Chaize, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, responded to a journalist who tweeted about his long wait time on April 10, stating that, according to a memorandum about the 2022 presidential election sent by the Ministry to French mayors, “the polls are considered closed once the last person who was in line before closing time has cast their vote. After closing time, it is recommended that polling station presidents place a barrier or an obstacle at the end of the line to prevent any latecomers from joining it.” Paris City Hall confirmed to France Bleu that at 8 p.m. on April 10, a city agent stayed at the end of the line to make sure all voters in line at that time would be able to cast their ballots.
MYTH: In the first round of the 2022 presidential election, electoral fraud was attempted when ballots for Éric Zemmour were marked so that they would be rejected under French electoral rules.
THE FACTS: In the days leading up to and the day of the first round of the 2022 presidential election, Twitter users supporting the candidacy of Éric Zemmour claimed that some ballots for Zemmour had marks on them, which would cause these ballots to be rejected if they were used to vote. Some of these supporters posted photos of Éric Zemmour ballots with small marks on them.
These claims appear to refer to a rule in the French electoral code that states that “ballots or envelopes with internal or external identifying marks… are not taken into account in the result of the vote count.”
However, two experts in electoral law who were shown pictures of ballots posted by Zemmour supporters and interviewed by the French news channel France 24 rejected the idea that these ballots would not be counted simply because they had small marks on them. After seeing some of the ballots pictured in tweets by Zemmour supporters, electoral lawyer Christophe Pichon said, “These ballots could not, in principle, be invalidated… The electoral code provides that ballots may be invalidated if they bear a handwritten note that could be an identifying mark. For example, a cross drawn with a pen could cancel the vote. But a pencil dot or a small spot on the ballots, as here, when we see that it is not added, and that it does not alter the message, it is not likely to invalidate the vote.”
French newspaper 20 Minutes said it was unable to find any evidence that ballots for Zemmour had been disqualified on a large scale after contacting the Association of French Mayors, Éric Zemmour’s election campaign team, the Interior Ministry, and the prefecture of Var (South-East of France), where one of the Twitter users claimed to have received a marked ballot.
A representative of the Interior Ministry told 20 Minutes that the decision to reject a ballot rested with the personnel of the polling stations, and that rejected ballots were reviewed by the Constitutional Council, the body responsible for ensuring the regularity of the presidential election. The Interior Ministry indicated that, of the 0.5% of first-round votes determined to be invalid, only 5.1% had been cast for Zemmour, while 20.1% of these invalid votes had been cast for Emmanuel Macron and 16.7% had been cast for Marine Le Pen, the two top vote-getters in the first round of the election, France 24 reported.
MYTH: Macron could use the Ukraine war as a pretext to delay or cancel the French presidential election.
THE FACTS: Macron cannot constitutionally delay or cancel the 2022 presidential election over the Ukraine war. The French Constitution specifies when presidential elections should take place, leaving little wiggle room for changes. Article 7 of the 1958 Constitution states that “the election of the new President shall be held not less than twenty days and not more than thirty-five days before the expiry of the term of the President in office.” The last day of Macron’s presidential term will be May 13, 2022. The same constitutional article only allows two reasons for postponing the election before the first round of voting: “If, before the first ballot, any of the candidates dies or becomes incapacitated.”
After a meeting between Prime Minister Jean Castex and the main candidates in the presidential election (those having gathered at least 300 of the 500 signatures of elected officials needed to run) at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, a ministerial advisor told French newspaper Le Parisien on Feb. 28, 2022, that neither the government nor the candidates ever considered moving any of the two election days. “We’re coming out of a two-hour meeting, no one is asking for it,” he said.
Laurent Fabius, the President of the Constitutional Council, which oversees voting procedures, confirmed that it would be impossible to postpone the presidential election in a March 2022 Ouest-France article, which stated that the election can only be canceled “due to special circumstances, meaning the death, or incapacity — such as a serious illness — of a candidate.”
MYTH: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the French people to vote for Macron.
THE FACTS: A few days into the Feb. 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, a wave of posts across social media platforms falsely claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had urged the French people to reelect Macron for a second term.
The false claim can be traced back to a manipulated screenshot of a tweet from French news channel BFMTV. The widely shared fake screenshot showed a photo of Zelensky, with the caption: “LIVE, Volodymyr Zelensky urged the French people to vote for Emmanuel Macron during the next presidential election.”
BFMTV did not publish such a report. A BFMTV spokesperson told AFP in March 2022 that “the channel has never published such a tweet or an article on the website.” The screenshot was fabricated using a real tweet posted on the news channel’s official Twitter account on March 4, 2022, which quoted Zelensky as saying that “if Ukraine falls, Europe falls with us.” In fact, Zelensky has not endorsed Macron.
The photoshopped screenshot was originally published by BLF.TV, an anti-Macron Twitter account that mimics BFMTV and has posted false information about the Ukraine war. In a March 6, 2022, tweet, Raphael Grably, a journalist who oversees tech coverage at BFMTV, said of the screenshot: “A basic montage uses BFMTV’s image to pretend that Zelensky urged to vote for Macron (spoiler: the tweet is a fake).”
MYTH: Voters without a COVID-19 vaccine pass will not be allowed inside polling sites.
THE FACTS: Voters without a COVID-19 vaccine pass will not be denied access to polling sites to cast their ballots in the 2022 presidential election.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of French legislators have misleadingly claimed that the French Parliament refused to approve legislative amendments that would guarantee that no COVID-19 vaccine or health pass will be required to enter polling sites. Such statements prompted many unvaccinated voters and online commentators to falsely claim that the vaccine pass — which provided proof of COVID-19 vaccination and was required in certain places including bars, restaurants in France, until it was suspended on March 14, 2022 — would take away their voting rights.
These concerns were raised ahead of the vote on the government’s bill in January 2022, which replaced the health pass (requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test or a vaccine) with a vaccine pass. Similar claims were made in summer 2021, during debates on a bill designed to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and which made the health pass mandatory for some activities.
In fact, neither bill included polling sites on their list of places where a health or vaccine pass would be required. Unvaccinated voters can access voting bureaus and cast their votes for the 2022 presidential election. A Nov. 9, 2021, decision of the Constitutional Council stated that “during the election period, presentation of a ‘health pass’ cannot be required for access to polling stations or to political meetings and activities.”
On March 30, 2022, the French Interior Ministry published a statement saying: “The following documents cannot be required from voters and people taking part in the voting process and its preparation: proof of vaccination, documentation of recovery or a virologic test.”
In a March 30, 2022, press conference, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal confirmed that during the presidential election, “there will be no health pass, vaccine pass, or test required to vote, at the entrance to polling stations.” He added that “voting is a constitutional right. Nothing should prohibit a person from voting.” Voters sick with COVID-19 are also allowed to vote, Attal said.
MYTH: In November 2021, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced the implementation of electronic voting for the 2022 presidential election.
THE FACTS: In November 2021, a doctored video that seemed to show French government spokesman Gabriel Attal announcing, in a recent speech, the implementation of electronic voting for the April 2022 presidential election was published on Twitter, where it was viewed more than 230,000 times, and retweeted over 2,500 times, including by then-presidential candidate Florian Philippot. (In April 2022, this tweet was still available.)
In fact, the video was manipulated, and Attal did not announce the upcoming implementation of electronic voting in November 2021.
While the video excerpt included in the tweet was real, it was not recent. It was recorded during a Feb. 17, 2021, cabinet press briefing, more than nine months before the tweets were published. But a banner used by the 24-hour news channel BFMTV in November 2021 was added to the bottom of this video, making it seem recent.
In the February 2021 video, Attal indeed talked about an amendment that had been proposed by the government to allow early voting on voting machines during the week prior to the presidential election. However, that amendment was rejected by the Senate a day later. In November 2021, the French government was no longer considering introducing electronic voting for the presidential election.
In the original tweet that went viral, the video, published by Philippe Murer, an economist and former economic adviser to far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, was accompanied by a text saying: “Attal announces that the government will implement electronic voting for the presidential election. Worse than voting by mail, it will allow massive unverifiable fraud.” In a later tweet sharing the same video, far-right politician Florian Philippot stated: “Fraud alert! Announcement by government spokesman Attal of the ‘electronic vote’! Because of Covid of course… Fraud and cheating in progress!”
Attal himself pointed out that the video was inauthentic in a November 2021 tweet responding to Philippot, stating: “Deepfake alert… This is a montage juxtaposing a truncated extract from 02/17 and a recent BFM banner. By the way, you have forgotten to put the BFM logo and the time in the upper left corner. I was talking about an electronic voting amendment, which was finally not adopted.”
MYTH: Dominion Voting Systems, a software company that former U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters accused falsely of having deleted or switched votes in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, was selected to count votes during the 2022 French presidential election.
THE FACTS: It is false to say that the U.S. software company Dominion Voting Systems was involved in the counting of votes in the 2022 French presidential election, or that it had been selected for that purpose.
Articles and social media posts which promoted this false claim often cited as evidence a January 2022 press release from the French Constitutional Council, the institution responsible for ensuring the regularity of the presidential election, that gave an account of a meeting between the Constitutional Council’s president, Laurent Fabius, and the Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. The press release stated that Darmanin had “raised the possibility that, after consultations, the Government would develop new organizational measures that would appear necessary due to the health crisis, in order to guarantee the smooth running of the presidential election” and that Fabius, in his response, had “confirmed that the adoption of such measures would require a review by the Constitutional Council.” In the press release, the nature of these “new organizational measures” was not specified, which led to several misinformation websites and social media users to speculate that they would include the use of electronic software such as Dominion.
For example, on the same day that the press release was published, far-right politician Florian Philippot, then a candidate for president, tweeted a link to the press release along with the message: “The Constitutional Council confirms that the government is asking for ‘new measures to organize the presidential election!’ Fraud by mail-in voting? Electronic voting? Our vigilance is absolute because they will do anything!”
In March 2022, numerous Twitter users claimed, without evidence, that the French government had contracted Dominion to count votes in the French presidential election, and the hashtag #Dominion was a trending topic in France on March 18, 2022, and March 19, 2022, with over 25,000 tweets each day, according to the AFP, which cited social media monitoring tool Visibrain.
Yet, ahead of the vote, both Dominion and the Interior Ministry have denied that Dominion would be in any way involved in the 2022 French presidential election. In March 2022, a representative of Dominion told the AFP that “Dominion Voting Systems does not operate in France.” An unnamed representative of the Interior Ministry also told the AFP that “The Interior Ministry does not and has never used the services of the company Dominion in the organization of elections…. The results of the counting of votes in each municipality are communicated on the evening of the election in real time to the Interior Ministry by the municipalities, via the prefectures, by means of results centralization computer systems developed by the computer services of the Interior Ministry for several years, which are the subject of tests and of a certification of safety under the aegis in particular of the ANSSI [the French National Agency for the Security of Information Systems] in order to avoid any attempt at manipulation… The Interior Ministry does not use external service providers for these vote centralization operations.”
After the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump and his supporters falsely claimed that a voting software program run by Dominion Voting Systems had caused many votes for Trump to be deleted or attributed to Joe Biden. These claims were rejected by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, which called the 2020 election “the most secure in American history,” stating, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
MYTH: Emmanuel Macron was wrongly credited with coming in first in the first round of the 2017 French presidential election because of electronic voting companies Dominion and Scytl, which means that Macron’s five-year term was illegitimate.
THE FACTS: There is no evidence to support the claim that servers belonging to the electronic voting companies Scytl or Dominion wrongly attributed votes intended for other candidates to Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the 2017 presidential election.
In March 2022, a French Interior Ministry unnamed spokesperson told Agence France-Presse that “The Interior Ministry does not and has never used the services of the company Dominion in the organization of elections.”
As for the Barcelona-based election software company Scytl, which sells internet voting software, it does list the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs among its clients on its website. Its internet voting software has only been used for consular and legislative elections for French citizens living abroad, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website, Scytl’s website, and a 2017 Le Figaro article.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website indicates that French law does not allow voting over the internet for presidential elections. Only French citizens living abroad are allowed to vote over the internet — for consular and, sometimes, legislative elections.
Domestically, most French polling places require voters to use paper ballots. Some municipalities use electronic voting machines, but only 1.3 million French voters in 66 municipalities had electronic voting machines made available to them in the 2017 presidential election, the AFP reported in May 2021. These machines were not connected to the internet nor each other, and voters’ selections were printed out on a paper receipt when the voting bureaus closed and communicated to the Interior Ministry in the same way as the results from paper ballots, according to the AFP. Voting machine models manufactured by three companies were authorized for use in 2017 presidential election, according to the Interior Ministry website, and these companies did not include Dominion or Scytl.
In a July 2017 review giving its observations on the 2017 presidential election, the French Constitutional Council, which is responsible for ensuring the regularity of the presidential election, announced that the election “was conducted on the whole under good conditions.” The “infringements” of voting rules “occasionally observed” by the Constitutional Council did not include electronic voting or servers of any kind, and mostly consisted of minor failures to respect procedures in polling places, such as “non-accessibility of some polling stations for people with disabilities” and “failure to check the identity of voters in municipalities with a population of 1,000 or more.”
France also invited the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a regional security organization composed of 57 states whose mission includes promoting democratic elections, to observe the 2017 presidential election. The OSCE’s report does not mention any fraud observed during the election.
MYTH: In March 2022, a new poll said Éric Zemmour would win the presidential election.
THE FACTS: In March 2022, dozens of social media accounts supporting far-right candidate Éric Zemmour shared an infographic of a poll in English and Chinese, showing that Zemmour would lead in the first round of voting, ahead of far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The infographic appears to have first surfaced on March 28, 2022, on a since-deleted Twitter account, with the caption “Polls conducted abroad are different from those on the mainland.” At the time, Zemmour trailed Rassemblement National candidate Marine Le Pen and current president Emmanuel Macron in most polls. The infographic was shared in the next few days, with comments stating that French media polls were biased and underestimated Zemmour’s popularity.
According to the infographic, the source of the poll was “Singapore investment fund in collaboration with Le Temps,” a Swiss newspaper. In fact, the poll never appeared on Le Temps’s website. Richard Werly, Le Temps’ permanent correspondent in Paris, told CheckNews, Libération’s fact-checking team, that “Le Temps has not commissioned any polls on the presidential election and we have no intention of doing so.”
Earlier in March, Zemmour supporters shared a somewhat similar poll saying that their candidate would win the election. The poll results were attributed to “Singapore and Swiss investment funds,” with no identifying details. NewsGuard found that this poll was also not reported by any credible media outlet. In fact, it was first mentioned in a March 8, 2022, tweet by Daniel Soum, who describes himself in his Twitter profile as a Thailand-based retired journalist and local head of Zemmour’s Reconquête party.
In the months leading to the election, Zemmour’s supporters and members of his campaign have repeatedly promoted custom-designed polls with unknown methodology, while echoing Zemmour’s often-repeated claim that mainstream polls do not reflect his lead among real voters, BFMTV reported in March 2022.
MYTH: CNN reported on the McKinsey scandal, while the French media was silent.
THE FACTS: In March 2022, less than a month before the presidential election, a screenshot of CNN anchor Jake Tapper emerged on Twitter, with a fabricated CNN caption in English, stating that “the French people know [about] McKinsey but there still is no revolution.” The screenshot was reposted by thousands of users, with many commenting that unlike the French media, CNN covered the alleged scandal involving U.S. consulting firm McKinsey.
The image was in fact created by a Twitter user named @SilkysilkK, who initially shared it in a March 20, 2022, tweet, with the comment: “As seen from the US. #McKinsey is an enormous scandal, which would have destroyed #Macron in any functioning democracy.”
@SilkysilkK clarified in follow-up comments that the image was doctored and “not a real CNN headline.” The original screenshot was taken from an Oct. 7, 2014, video broadcast, in which Tapper was seen discussing the appointment of the first White House Ebola response coordinator. The same screenshot is available on meme generator Imgflip.com, which allows people to create fake CNN screenshots with their own headlines. As of April, 6, 2022, @SilkysilkK’s tweet had received more than 7,000 likes and was shared approximately 5,000 times, including by users who believed the image to be genuine.
The McKinsey firm found itself at the center of a national controversy in March 2022, after a French Senate report on the influence of consulting firms over public policy revealed that the Macron administration spent at least 1 billion euros on consulting firm contracts in 2021 alone, including with McKinsey, despite “mixed results.” The report also accused McKinsey’s French subsidiary of not paying business profit taxes for almost a decade. The report was released on March 17, 2022, on the day Macron presented his campaign platform during a press conference. McKinsey has denied the allegation. On April 6, 2022, France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had opened a preliminary investigation targeting the firm for aggravated laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud.
“The McKinsey affair” was extensively covered in the news, including by Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Mediapart, contrary to claims that the French media was silent on the story. Multiple news organizations interviewed Macron and his political rivals on the topic. “When you want to accelerate, go fast and strong with a policy, you sometimes need to use service providers that are outside the State,” Macron told the press in March 2022.