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Lengthy video makes false claims about 2020 election

December 25, 2020 GMT

A 93-minute video circulating online employs false claims and flawed logic to suggest that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and that an election technology firm and China were behind it.

The video, featuring Epoch Times reporter Joshua Philipp, alleges that the Chinese Communist Party wanted Biden to be in power and is extending its tentacles into many facets of American society in an effort to spread communism.

To support that argument, it recycles a barrage of false and misleading claims of election-night anomalies, interviews witnesses whose claims have been debunked and does a deep dive into Chinese executives with no meaningful connection to the U.S. election.

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Versions of the video on YouTube, the Epoch Times website and the news site NTD have amassed hundreds of thousands of views and more than 53,000 Facebook shares in the past two weeks. The Epoch Times did not respond to a request for comment.

Here is AP’s assessment of the key claims:

PHILIPP: “Something unexpected happened” when President Donald Trump’s lead in swing states disappeared overnight on election night and “not a single news agency has provided an explanation.”

THE FACTS: It wasn’t unexpected that vote counts would take time to come in. It was widely reported by news outlets that counting the votes was likely to take days given the high volume of mailed ballots. It was also widely reported that because President Donald Trump had discouraged mail-in voting, early results from in-person voting were likely to favor Trump, while Biden was likely to pick up more votes as more mail-in ballots were processed. In Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, state law prevented election officials from tallying mailed ballots ahead of the election, which meant Biden’s lead grew as more of these ballots were processed. An example the video cites as “abnormal” was the case of Wisconsin, where early on Nov. 4 there was a sudden spike in votes for Biden. But The Associated Press has previously reported on the explanation for that spike. Reid Magney, from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told the AP absentee ballots were counted until early in the morning on Nov. 4 in Milwaukee. “No absentee totals could be reported for the city of Milwaukee until all the absentee ballots were counted, which is why the numbers changed so dramatically in the early morning hours,” Magney said. Milwaukee’s absentee ballot processing was live streamed on YouTube for anyone to watch. When counting concluded, Milwaukee police escorted the city’s elections director from a central counting location to the county courthouse to deliver thumb drives with the data.

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MELLISSA CARONE: At TCF Center in Detroit on election night, election workers were rescanning ballots “thousands of times.”

THE FACTS: There is no evidence for Carone’s claim. “Absentee ballots were not scanned multiple times inappropriately,” said Tracy Wimmer, media relations director for the Michigan Department of State. “This was only done if ballots could not be read by the tabulation machine. Had ballots been counted multiple times, the number of total ballots counted would be higher than the total number of voters who voted.” Carone, who was hired by the election technology vendor Dominion Voting Systems to do IT work at the TCF Center, made claims about witnessing fraud at a Dec. 2 hearing in front of Michigan state lawmakers with Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and in an affidavit in an unsuccessful legal challenge that sought to stop the certification of Detroit-area votes. In a Nov. 13 order, Judge Timothy Kenny, of the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan, noted that Carone’s account did not square with any others. “The allegations simply are not credible,” he wrote.

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PATRICK COLBECK: Tabulator machines were improperly connected to the internet at the TCF Center, making them possible to hack.

THE FACTS: Michigan uses paper ballots, which are counted by tabulator machines. According to a statement on the Michigan Department of State website: “The machines are not connected to the internet until all counting is finished and copies of the tally have been printed. Then some jurisdictions may connect a machine to send UNOFFICIAL results to the county clerk, while a copy of the paper tally is also driven to the county clerk.” Colbeck, a former Michigan state senator, alleges that tabulator machines in Detroit were improperly connected to an internet router through ethernet cables. This claim was refuted by Wimmer, of the Michigan Department of State. “No ballot tabulation machines were connected to the internet at Detroit’s counting board,” Wimmer told the AP. “The machines were networked locally to each other and the adjudication machines by ethernet cable, and so some people suggested they were online. They were not.” Colbeck made the same claim in an affidavit that was also dismissed by Judge Timothy Kenny, who wrote: “No evidence supports Mr. Colbeck’s position.”

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PHILIPP: An election-night surveillance video from State Farm Arena in Georgia shows election workers asked Republican poll watchers and journalists to leave, but four people remained, pulled out hidden ballot containers, and processed and counted ballots without supervision until 1 a.m. in an “illegal act of fraud” that “must have been organized and planned in advance.”

THE FACTS: The video doesn’t show evidence of any fraud, much less an illegal act “planned in advance.” Instead, election workers began packing up after a long night of counting, then got a call from a supervisor who instructed them to continue, according to Gabriel Sterling, a top official in the Georgia secretary of state’s office. Georgia law 21-2-408 permits observers to stay in the room the whole time, but doesn’t require it for counting to take place. After partisan observers, reporters and several staffers left, there was a short period when observers weren’t present. However, an independent state election board monitor and a state investigator both arrived within an hour and remained at the facility until the count concluded for the night, Sterling said. The ballot boxes brought out in the surveillance video had not been hidden all day, as the video suggests. They were the same boxes that had previously been opened earlier in the night, and all the ballots in them had already been prepared in front of observers. Investigators who reviewed the entire surveillance tape confirmed it showed “normal ballot processing,” Sterling said.

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MATT BRAYNARD: Many people illegally registered to vote using a P.O. Box rather than a residence in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Tens of thousands of voters who had moved out of Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona still voted by mail in those states — enough to flip the results in all three states.

THE FACTS: Braynard says in the video that he found more than 1,000 Georgia voters and more than 1,400 voters in Pennsylvania who had listed an address on their voter registration form that matched the address of a postal service location, UPS store or FedEx location. It is true that Georgia law requires voter registrants list a physical address or location — not a P.O. Box — to register to vote. But not all voters listed at an address that coincides with a postal service address necessarily did anything wrong. For example, election expert Tammy Patrick of the Democracy Fund told the AP some commercial properties have apartments above them. “So it isn’t 100% accurate to say that there would never be an instance where someone might live there,” Patrick said. These numbers could add up if there was an apartment building with a FedEx location on the ground floor. Furthermore, in a statement, the Pennsylvania Department of State told the AP that some voters in that state are allowed to use a P.O. Box instead of a physical residence on their registration forms. That includes residents on rural mail delivery routes, and voters who are in an address confidentiality program run by the state’s Office of Victim Advocate. “Those in the program can use a P.O. Box or other set address to maintain confidentiality of their address due to stalking, abuse or sexual assault, among other reasons,” reads the statement. There are also issues with Braynard’s assertion that 138,221 people who had left Georgia, 26,673 people who left Wisconsin, and 19,997 people who had left Arizona still voted with mail-in ballots. The snippet in the video did not mention that it is legal for people to temporarily leave their home state but still retain residence and vote there. Many states allow voters to request absentee ballots to be mailed to temporary addresses in other states, including students, military and people working temporary jobs. “Voters may leave a state but intend to return and thus retain their registration there,” Patrick said. “Additionally, some voters may move to their new location after the time in which they can register to vote so have the ability to still vote using their previous location — they are not disenfranchised simply based on the timing of their move.” Myrna Pérez of the Brennan Center for Justice told the AP: “One should be extremely skeptical of claims like this without hard data backing it up. One of the reasons people use absentee ballots is because they are absent from their home.” In a Dec. 10 appearance before Georgia lawmakers, Matthew Braynard mentioned that his methodology for discovering Georgia voters who had moved out of state by cross-checking voter files with the National Change of Address database was previously established by a Harvard University professor of government, Stephen Ansolabehere. But Ansolabere has discredited Braynard’s research for lacking in transparency and relying on methodologies that can be prone to high rates of error. After Braynard submitted his research in a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s election results, defendants filed a response from Ansolabehere evaluating several of Braynard’s allegations, including the claim about postal service addresses and voters who had moved out of the state. “None of these claims meets scientific standards of my fields of research, including survey research, political science, statistics and data sciences,” Ansolabehere wrote. “There is no scientific basis for drawing any inferences or conclusions from the data presented. None of the estimates are presented with statistical measures that meet standards for evaluating evidence.”

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GARY MILIEFSKY: Election software “allow percentages of votes” to be tabulated, which means those percentages can be switched without detection in a ploy known as the “salami method” that was probably used in the 2020 election.

THE FACTS: There’s no evidence any voting machine company switched votes in the 2020 election. A statement released by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, a federal agency that oversees U.S. election security, says there’s no truth to claims that votes cast for Trump were switched to count for Biden or deleted. Election administration experts contacted by the AP said they were not aware of U.S. systems using “fractional” voting in the 2020 election, and both Dominion and ES&S, another voting system vendor, have issued statements on their websites denying that their systems support fractional or weighted voting. Lawrence Norden, an election expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, said it was important that “every vote in every battleground state was recorded on paper.” Georgia did a full hand recount, and there were partial recounts and audits in other battleground states. “If this theory was correct we would have seen something to suggest there was a problem with machine software,” Norden said. “That hasn’t happened. Every time, the results were confirmed.” Andrew Appel, a Princeton University professor of computer science who researches voting security, told the AP that he was aware of allegations dating back to 2016 about fractional voting being used to manipulate results, but he had not independently evaluated them. Appel said if such a fraud scheme were carried out, “the fraud could be detected and corrected by a recount of the paper ballots, or by a sufficiently powerful risk-limiting audit.”

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PHILIPP: During a 30-second period of CNN’s live election night broadcast, a live ticker at the bottom of the screen showed Trump lost 19,958 votes and Biden gained the same number of votes in Pennsylvania.

THE FACTS: Videos showing what some interpreted as a vote “switch” on election-night TV are genuine, but there’s a simple explanation. It stemmed from a brief reporting error from Edison Research, which reports vote data to CNN and other networks. Rob Farman, executive vice president at Edison, explained to the AP that a state feed from Armstrong, Pennsylvania, first showed the correct values of 24,233 votes for Trump and 4,275 for Biden, but a team member mistakenly entered them backwards — 4,275 for Trump and 24,233 for Biden. Farman said the company’s quality control team discovered the error and corrected it that night.

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PHILIPP: Dominion Voting Systems and its employees exhibited strange behavior after the election, including closing offices, cancelling appearances, deleting employee information from the company website and erasing LinkedIn records.

THE FACTS: Though the insinuitation in the video is that Dominion was acting suspiciously because it had something to hide, the company has said it took steps to protect employees as false claims about the company led to harassment and threats. “Dominion is not shuttering its offices,” reads a statement from the company. “Employees have been encouraged to work remotely and protect their social media profiles due to persistent harassment and threats against personal safety.” Security director Eric Coomer has said he went into hiding because he was falsely accused of rigging the election for Biden and was targeted with death threats. This week he filed a defamation lawsuit against the Trump campaign, two of its lawyers and some conservative media figures and outlets.

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L. LIN WOOD JR: “Communist China” purchased Dominion Voting Systems on Oct. 8 for $400 million.

THE FACTS: There’s no truth to this pro-Trump lawyer’s outlandish claim. It’s a bogus theory promoted by conspiracy websites that stems from a misrepresentation of an SEC filing. The Oct. 8 filing shows that Staple Street Capital, the private equity firm that owns Dominion, sought $400 million from investors in a recent fundraising effort. UBS Securities LLC (the New York-based subsidiary of the Swiss investment bank UBS AG) acted as the placement agent, connecting Staple Street Capital to institutional investors. UBS itself did not invest in Staple Street Capital or Dominion. Seeking assistance from a broker-dealer firm to find investors is common in private equity. However, since the election, the filing has been misrepresented on social media with claims it shows that UBS paid $400 million to Staple Street Capital or bought Dominion. Neither is true. The video used Wood’s claim as a jumping-off point for a deep dive into Chinese individuals it said were board members of UBS Securities LLC or the similarly-named UBS Securities Co. Ltd., a Chinese subsidiary of UBS AG. However, public records confirm that none of these individuals are board members of the New York-based UBS Securities LLC that worked with Staple Street Capital. The Beijing-based UBS Securities Co. Ltd. has no relationship to the New York broker-dealer firm, nor did it work with Staple Street Capital on the recent fundraising effort. Spokespeople for both UBS Securities LLC and Staple Street Capital reached by phone on Wednesday denied the claims made in the video. Dominion’s CEO John Poulos also has debunked claims of a relationship with China, testifying earlier this month that the company “does not have ties to China whatsoever, including no ties involving investment or source code transfer.”