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Report spreads debunked claims about Dominion machines in Michigan county

December 15, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: A report released this week in Michigan shows Dominion Voting Systems machines in Antrim County, Michigan, were “intentionally designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This report rests on falsehoods about a human error in Antrim County and about Dominion machines, according to state and local officials. The initial vote reporting error in Antrim County was isolated and has been identified and explained by election officials. It was caused by a clerk’s failure to update media drives for certain tabulators to reflect the correct ballot content. It was not a machine problem.

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THE FACTS: There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Election officials have confirmed there were no serious irregularities and the election went well.

There’s also no evidence the election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems switched or deleted votes, used algorithms to unevenly weigh vote tallies, colluded with Democrats, or used foreign servers — despite repeated efforts by the president and his supporters to claim it did.

Even so, a deluge of false claims around Dominion is circling back to Antrim County, Michigan, this week after starting there on election night, when confusion around a clerk’s error drove social media users to falsely blame the election management system used to tabulate the data.

The renewed attention to Dominion and Antrim County this week stems from a report released on Monday as part of a lawsuit seeking to challenge the county’s election results.

The 23-page report — signed by a former Republican congressional candidate with a history of spreading misinformation about Michigan’s election — claims Dominion “is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.”

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The report claims the results of the election in Antrim County should not be certifiable because a forensic analysis of voting machines found a “machine error built into the voting software designed to create error.”

That analysis is “critically flawed, filled with dramatic conclusions without any evidence to support them,” according to a joint statement from the Michigan Department of State and the Michigan attorney general’s office on Monday.

Antrim County officials concurred in a Tuesday press release, saying, “An analysis which should have been data and fact based is instead riddled with false and unsupported claims, baseless attacks, and incorrect use of technical terms.”

Dominion has clarified that its technology did not err in Antrim County during the 2020 election. Officials have thoroughly explained the human mistake that caused the small, Republican-leaning county to temporarily report unofficial results that reflected a landslide win for Joe Biden.

“It was prompted by the clerk not updating media drives in some of the machines in Antrim County, an accidental human error,” the Michigan Department of State said in a release. “Reporting errors are common, and always caught and corrected in the county canvass, if not before, as was the case in Antrim County.”

“There was no malice, no fraud here, just human error,” County Clerk Sheryl Guy told the AP. The tabulation error was corrected.

Several social media users, including Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and the president himself, have cited the report’s mention of the county having a “68% error rate,” which it claims is based on a review of tabulation logs from three days after Election Day.

The report’s authors didn’t explain all the errors they saw, or what they mean by “error rate.” County officials told the AP they didn’t understand the number, since they have not had a chance to look through the data.

The report released Monday also included a slew of other debunked claims about Dominion, which Dominion CEO John Poulos addressed at length on Tuesday in prepared statements to a Republican-led Michigan Senate committee investigating the election.

The disinformation campaign being waged against Dominion defies facts or logic,” Poulos said. “To date, no one has produced credible evidence of vote fraud or vote switching on Dominion systems because these things simply have not occurred.”

Upon the release of the report on Monday, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called the state’s Nov. 3 election “the most secure in our state’s history.”

“If the Trump campaign had any actual evidence of wrongdoing – or genuine suspicion thereof – they could have requested a hand recount of every ballot in the state,” she said in a statement. “They did not, instead choosing to allow shadowy organizations claiming expertise to throw around baseless claims of fraud in an effort to mislead American voters and undermine the integrity of the election.”

For further confirmation nothing went awry with vote tabulators in Antrim County, the Michigan Bureau of Elections will complete a risk-limiting audit of all ballots there this Thursday, according to the Michigan Department of State.

“This is essentially a hand tally of every ballot, which can be compared with the machine-tabulated results,” the department said in a statement.

“We’re interested in transparency here,” Antrim County spokesman Jeremy Scott told the AP. “Even though we’re confident in the results, we want everybody to be confident in the results.”

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536