Hours ahead of the first election results, right-wing pundits are predicting voter fraud by Democrats—without evidence.
President Donald Trump turned false allegations of voter fraud into a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, telling supporters that Democrats would turn dirty tricks to “rig” the election. But actual instances of voter fraud are rare to the point of being nonexistent, years of studies by academics, non-partisan government agencies, courts, and Republican organizations have found. That hasn’t stopped some Republicans from pushing supposed anti-fraud measures that actually suppress voter turnout.
And while voters cast their ballots on Tuesday, right-wing pundits took to the internet to speculate about hypothetical misconduct.
If Republicans lose seats in Congress, it will be because undocumented immigrants assumed dead people’s identities, Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed in a Tuesday broadcast. His evidence was a Rasmussen poll that showed Republicans polling one point ahead of Democrats in the midterms.
“That signals a major red wave,” Jones said in the video, first reported by Media Matters. “But here’s the problem.They have caught people from Texas to Maryland, Democrats organizing illegal aliens to have mailed to their address absentee ballots in the name of dead people still on the rolls … Will the Democrats be able to steal another election?”
Jones presented no evidence for the claim. Other conservative pundits did not even cite specific instances of alleged fraud.
“On this, Judgement Day, the graves shall open and the dead rise to walk the earth once again and vote for Democrats,” pundit Ben Shapiro tweeted Tuesday morning.
Michelle Malkin, a conservative talking head and contributor to the racist website VDare, quote tweeted Shapiro, adding:
“Día de los Muertos Votantes” or “Day of the Dead Voters.” .
A follower responded with a gleeful conservative meme about “300,000 illegal voters [...] removed from Georgia Voter rosters prior to Midterms. GOP says any dead voter who wants to challenge the process come forward. Democrats are pissed.” In reality, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brian Kemp, led a massive voter registration purge last year, removing more than 500,000 people from the state’s voter rolls overnight. Kemp is running neck-in-neck against Democrat Stacey Abrams for governor.
The purges disproportionately affected minority voters, civil rights groups say. Previous studies of GOP-led voter purge initiatives have found them to be wildly inaccurate in identifying incorrectly registered voters. One GOP-led initiative would have deregistered one out of every seven registered African-American voters, a 2014 investigation found.
Others on the right suggested voting machines were changing Republican votes to Democratic votes.
“Just voted in Stark County, Ohio,” conservative commentator Madison Gesiotto tweeted. “I clicked @JimRenacci but @SherrodBrown was checked instead! I alerted poll workers and fixed my vote, but what happened to others?! Is machine not calibrated correctly? Concerning!”
Some people find touch screens difficult to operate. Fortunately, as Gesiotto tweeted, technical difficulties did not prevent her from voting Republican. But some of her followers suggested a larger conspiracy.
“Are they using Soros owned company voting machines?” one follower tweeted, in reference to a conspiracy theory that falsely claims Democratic donor George Soros is controlling votes.
As fact-checkers have pointed out since the theory started circulating in 2012, Soros’s company does not own voting machines.