Rage Against the Voting Machine
Trump blames the result on Dominion’s systems. Where’s the evidence?
By The Editorial BoardNov. 17, 2020 6:33 pm ET
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President Trump has so far been unwilling to concede to Joe Biden, and his latest argument is that the voting machines must have been rigged. Where’s the evidence? Strong claims need strong proof, not rumors and innuendo on Twitter.
Chatter is swirling around Dominion Voting, a company that supplies equipment in some 28 states. What seems to have launched this theory was an early misreport of results in Antrim County, Mich. In 2016 Mr. Trump won 62% of its 13,600 ballots, so eyebrows rose this year when the initial tallies showed Mr. Biden up by 3,000.OPINION: POTOMAC WATCHTwo Covid-19 Vaccines Show Promise 00:001xSUBSCRIBE
In reality, Mr. Trump had won 61% of Antrim County. The unofficial reporting was wrong, but the underlying votes were counted correctly. As officials later explained: In October the county had to tweak the ballot information for two local races. Tabulating machines in the affected areas were updated, but others weren’t. On Election Day the differing data didn’t line up right after being merged. But the printouts from the tabulators showed accurate totals.
In any case, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office said the error “would have been identified during the county canvass,” when Democrats and Republicans “review the printed totals tape from each tabulator.” Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy told the Associated Press: “There was no malice, no fraud here, just human error.” She’s a Republican.
A different problem hit Gwinnett County, Ga. Officials had trouble with a Dominion module for adjudicating absentee ballots, for example, if the voter put a check mark in the circle instead of filling it in. Some adjudicated ballots, the county said, “were displayed as in progress but would not move over to be accepted.” The county ended up re-adjudicating some votes until Nov. 5. Sounds like the usual boring IT snafu.
Other pundits mash together all sorts of stuff. A couple of counties in Georgia had trouble with electronic poll books, but that would affect wait times at precincts, not final vote totals. There’s footage from a House hearing a few years ago, at which Princeton Computer Science Professor Andrew Appel said that voting machines could theoretically be hacked. Where’s the proof they actually were in 2020? “Vulnerabilities,” Mr. Appel wrote in a blog post Friday, “are not the same as rigged elections, especially when we have paper ballots in almost all the states.”
Mr. Trump was even further astray last week in a tweet. “REPORT: DOMINION DELETED 2.7 MILLION TRUMP VOTES NATIONWIDE. DATA ANALYSIS FINDS 221,000 PENNSYLVANIA VOTES SWITCHED FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP TO BIDEN. 941,000 TRUMP VOTES DELETED.” Dominion says it’s “impossible” that its machines deleted nearly a million Trump votes in Pennsylvania, where it serves only 14 counties. With turnout at 76%, it adds, those counties registered 1.3 million votes.
Others have tried to draw lines between Dominion and prominent Democrats. In the category of no good deed goes unpunished, the company in 2014 agreed to donate voting machines to “emerging and post-conflict democracies” via a Clinton Foundation initiative. This shows exactly nothing about Dominion’s current operations. The company says it has no ownership relationships “with any member of the Pelosi family, the Feinstein family, or the Clinton Global Initiative.”
Another rumor is that Dominion has deep ties with Smartmatic, which has supplied voting systems to Venezuela, where the ruling regime manipulates elections. Both companies deny this. Smartmatic says it“has never provided Dominion Voting Systems with any software, hardware or other technology.” Dominion says they “do not collaborate in any way and have no affiliate relationships or financial ties.” In 2009, Dominion adds, Smartmatic “licensed Dominion machines for use in the Philippines,” but the contract “ended in a lawsuit.”
No voting system is foolproof, and hiccups are inevitable in a country with roughly 3,000 counties. The distributed nature of American elections is a strength on this point, since voting is handled by innumerable local officials instead of a few central authorities. Texas has declined to certify Dominion systems for its elections. The examiners objected to everything from the “tedious” and “unintuitive” setup, to a crash they witnessed in an adjudication module, to an indicator light that hackers could hypothetically remove to get at a USB port.
But so far there’s no good evidence of voting problems that would come close to Mr. Biden’s lead of 73,000 votes in Pennsylvania or 145,000 in Michigan. In Georgia, the Republican Secretary of State last week ordered a hand recount of all five million ballots. The effort turned up 2,600 missing votes that Floyd County forgot to upload. Adding them would cut Mr. Biden’s lead to slightly north of 13,000. But the error isn’t Dominion’s fault, and it better hope no glitches are revealed, given its 10-year contract with the state for $107 million.
If Georgia’s recount doesn’t find big irregularities, then these claims should be put to rest. In the George W. Bush years, the conspiratorial left focused on Diebold, a maker of electronic voting machines. It would be a mistake for anyone on the right to go down a similar dead end, especially if Georgia’s paper ballots give the same result as the computers.