For supporters of Hillary Clinton, the post circulating on Facebook and Reddit offers hope. The Justice Department, it claims, is “tallying calls” from people who want an audit of the 2016 election. And given the small margins that Donald Trump won by in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, a shift of about 55,000 votes is all that would be needed to change the outcome.
The problem is, it’s bogus. The Justice Department doesn’t count up calls to determine whether it should launch an investigation. And they will not initiate a national audit — or force particular states to recount their results — based on the volume of outrage they receive from voters.
“The Justice Department does not tally the number of callers to determine whether federal action is warranted,” department spokesman David Jacobs said in a statement. “Investigatory decisions are based solely on the facts and evidence as they relate to the federal statutes the department enforces.”
The post itself showed up on Reddit at least two days ago, though its exact origin is unclear.
“Regardless of tinfoil hat theories, there really is something off about the election results as they come in. Considering everything that is at stake, a vote audit should be done,” the poster wrote. “The DOJ is currently tallying calls regarding this … Even if it’s busy, keep calling. We should not back down from this.”
The post listed a phone number, which won’t be repeated here. A similar post on Facebook listed a different phone number.
For whatever reason, the sentiment seemed to have bubbled to the attention of reporters Tuesday. A New York Magazine and Daily Beast contributing writer reported that the sister of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin had shared a version.
On Facebook, Huma Abedin's sister, Heba Abedin, encourages her followers to call the Justice Department to have vote in key states audited. pic.twitter.com/y4BPazFPmL
— Yashar (@yashar) November 22, 2016
So, too, did actress Debra Messing, a Clinton supporter.
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) November 22, 2016
That is not to say the Justice Department would not investigate actual allegations of voter or ballot fraud. Before the election, the department promulgated extensive, real information on the topic and asked those with complaints to report them. They would investigate voter intimidation, election practices that discriminated or other violations of federal law, and would still do so.
But they would do it based on actual evidence of violations, rather than intensity of griping over the result.