US election 2020: “rigged” votes, body doubles and other false declarations

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In the last few weeks of the US election campaign, all kinds of false and misleading things are being shared on social media.

Here are some of the more recent – and untrue – claims.

Postal votes

The Trump campaign has often argued, without evidence, that the increase in mail-in voting (“mail-in” is the American term) due to the pandemic would lead to massive fraud.

In fact, voter fraud is incredibly rare.

Last week, President Trump suggested to 50,000 people in Ohio that erroneous missing ballots were evidence of a “rigged election.”

He repeated the example at a public meeting Thursday when the moderator told him the FBI director said there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

The Franklin County, Ohio Board of Elections said the ballot error was a “big mistake” but in its response to the president’s tweet, it added: “Our council is bipartisan and our elections are fair. And every vote will be counted. ”

The error was due to a technology malfunction – a high-speed scanner stopped working – which meant that a chunk of more than 250,000 missing ballots, for those who did not vote in person in their state, sent were incorrect.

Everyone involved now has the correct ballot, election commissions said, and various safeguards are in place to ensure that no one votes twice.

“Undervalued” bulletins

In September, photos of California vote envelopes were shared thousands of times on Facebook, along with other unsubstantiated “vote rigging” allegations.

The official Sonoma County Facebook page released a statement regarding the allegations. “The photos are old, empty envelopes from the November 2018 election that were disposed of as the law allows,” they said.

The county’s ballots for this year’s presidential election had yet to be sent to voters when the photos were shared.

Numerous national and state studies show that voter fraud is incredibly rare in the United States.

There have been isolated cases of mail fraud, and the FBI is currently investigating a case of nine military ballots that were rejected in Pennsylvania.

But Ellen Weintraub, commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, which oversees election spending laws, said: “There is simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that postal voting causes fraud. “

  • Does postal voting lead to electoral fraud?
  • How to spot election misinformation

Campaign announcements and attack videos

Deceptive videos and ads vilifying opponents, spinning the facts and exaggerating the truth are of course common during election campaigns – and this one was no different.

Donald Trump Jr posted a video featuring an interview with Joe Biden responding in the affirmative – using the word “bingo” – to a question about gun control.

But the real question was not about a total gun ban, but rather about a specific type – assault weapons. Mr. Biden indeed supports the ban on the manufacture and sale of these high-powered weapons and suggests that the owners can either resell them to the government or register them.

Mr. Trump Jr’s clip and tweet, however, dropped such nuance.

A Twitter account backed by the Democratic Party posted its own video on the issue. Referring to the president’s supporters, he said, “Hey MAGA, Trump is coming for your guns.” Attached is an excerpt from a press conference in which the president said: “First take the guns, then go to court”.

But here the president was referring to a policy of removing weapons from the hands of potentially dangerous people.

Deceptively edited videos are a recurring feature of the campaign.

This week, a Trump campaign ad was edited to make it sound like Dr.Anthony Fauci, one of the leaders of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was praising the president. In fact, Dr Fauci was talking about his own response to the pandemic.

  • Trump targeted in deceptive puddle video

We have also seen campaign ads on Facebook pushing inaccurate statements.

A frequent lie includes allegations that the president called the coronavirus a “hoax.” An advertisement seen a few hundred thousand times on Facebook this week and promoted by “Color Of Change PAC” – a “political action committee” separate from political parties – includes the misrepresentation.

Although he has at times made wildly unscientific statements, President Trump has not directly called the coronavirus a hoax. The rumor seems to stem from a speech he gave earlier in the year in which he called the Democratic Party’s reaction to his handling of the pandemic “their new hoax.”

Following the first presidential debate, the Trump campaign ran ads promoting a false claim that Joe Biden was wearing a headset.

Other advertisements falsely claimed that Mr Biden used a teleprompter in television interviews.

Conspiracy theories

Tweets spawning thousands of shares in recent days have promoted a bizarre conspiracy theory, claiming to reveal secret information about the capture and death of Osama bin Laden – an idea that has been amplified by the president himself.

An article reporting these unsubstantiated allegations finally entered the mainstream conversation after President Trump retweeted it.

History’s “Whistleblower” Claims to Have Information Proving “Body Double” of Osama Bin Laden Killed by US Troops in Pakistan, Rather than by the Real Al Qaeda Leader .

The article went even further, with the interviewee accusing Joe Biden of orchestrating a cover-up and destruction of a US helicopter in Afghanistan in 2011. They provided no evidence to support these claims.

The accusations aroused the fury of a member of the elite Navy Seal unit who took part in the mission. He totally rejected the theory, tell CNN it was “trampling the graves of some of the best heroes I’ve worked with personally”.

The author of the article retweeted by the president admitted on Twitter: “I have no proof that the whistleblower’s claims are true. ”

At Thursday’s town hall meeting, the president was asked about his decision to retweet the questionable article, and replied, “I’ll publish it – people can decide for themselves. ”

Mr. Trump has promoted conspiracy theories in the past and also became the subject of some when he caught coronavirus.

One particularly far-fetched theory shared on Facebook and Reddit this week claimed that Mr. Trump had been replaced by a clone.

A collage of images titled “The real Donald Trump never left the hospital” contrasted the photos of Donald Trump before and after his hospital stay, calling him a “newborn clone.”

While some people clearly shared the post as a joke, other comments suggested that the idea had been taken seriously by some.

The president has been seen in public on several occasions since being released from the hospital, and there is no evidence to support the savage theory.

This is not the first time that a sitting president has been accused of being replaced by a clone during an election campaign.

In 2018, a viral rumor that Nigerian President Buhari had been replaced by a body double spread so widely that the president himself responded by saying, “It’s me, I assure you.”

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