The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Giuliani’s fantasy parade of false voter-fraud claims

(Matt Slocum/AP)

In interviews with sympathetic Fox News hosts, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani has made several wild claims alleging that election fraud and malfeasance was responsible for Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. His claims have been echoed in weekend tweets by President Trump, accusing a software company of somehow manipulating the vote in favor of Biden. These presidential tweets have been flagged by Twitter as misleading.

Moreover, this nonsense has already been debunked by Trump’s own government. In a statement issued Nov. 12, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and partners such as the National Association of Secretaries of State declared: “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

That sentence was posted in boldface, just to make it clear. The statement added: “While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

Frankly, we were tempted to just end our fact check with that statement. (We asked Giuliani why he ignores an authoritative government statement but did not hear back.) After all, why elevate falsehoods designed to spread fear about election security?

But given that Giuliani has made these claims on television, we feel duty-bound to explain why they are bunk.

Election day was over a week ago, but misleading video clips claiming to be evidence of 'voter fraud' are still circulating through social media. (Video: The Washington Post)

“It’s way beyond what people think, including a very, very dangerous foreign company that did the votes in 27 states, a company that’s not American, a company that’s foreign, a company that has close, close ties with Venezuela and, therefore, China and uses a Venezuelan company software that’s been used to steal elections in other countries.”

— Giuliani, on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nov. 15

Giuliani is referring to Dominion Voting Systems, which makes software that local governments use to help run their elections. Dominion is a Canadian company that effectively has its headquarters in Denver.

The company says it is nonpartisan. “Dominion has no company ownership relationships with any member of the Pelosi family, the Feinstein family, or the Clinton Global Initiative, Smartmatic, Scytl, or any ties to Venezuela,” the company says on a Web page debunking election rumors. “Dominion works with all political parties; our customer base and our government outreach practices reflect this nonpartisan approach.”

The company operates in 28 states, including Florida and Ohio, two states that Trump easily won. But the contracts are often with individual counties. For instance, Dominion software was used in only two of the five counties that had problems in Michigan and Georgia — and the problems in Michigan were due to human error, according to a detailed account posted by the Michigan secretary of state’s office.

“I don’t think people have any idea of the dimension of the national security problem that Dominion creates. This Dominion company is a radical-left company. One of the people there is a big supporter of antifa and has written horrible things about the president for the last three or four years.”

— Giuliani, on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nov. 15

Giuliani is referring to Internet rumors promoted on right-wing websites, which take you down through a rabbit hole of speculation. But there is no evidence that Dominion is “radical-left” or has connections to antifa, the anti-fascist political movement.

“The software that they use is done by a company called Smartmatic, a company that was founded by [Hugo] Chávez and by Chávez’s two allies, who still own it. And it’s been used to cheat in elections in South America. It was banned by the United States several — about a decade ago. It’s come back now as a subcontractor to other companies. It sort of hides in the weeds. But Dominion sends everything to Smartmatic. Can you believe it? Our votes are sent overseas. They are sent to someplace else, some other country. Why do they leave our country?”

— Giuliani, on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nov. 15

Smartmatic, on its own fact check page, says this is all crazy. Smartmatic, an election technology company, was founded and incorporated in the United States in 2000, inspired by the hanging-chad debate in the 2000 election. It is now headquartered in London.

“Two of the founders, Antonio Mugica and Roger Piñate, continue to run the company as CEO and President, respectively,” the company says. “The majority of shares (83%) are held by SGO, a company owned by the Mugica and Piñate families. The remaining shares are held by employees (10%) and angel investors (7%).”

“Smartmatic’s software is not licensed or otherwise used by other companies,” the company says.

There is a long-ago corporate connection to Venezuela, according to news accounts in 2006. Smartmatic replaced Venezuela’s election machinery before a referendum that confirmed Chávez as president in August 2004, and the Venezuelan government made a $200,000 loan to another technology company owned by some of the same people as Smartmatic. With the money from its contracts with Venezuela, Smartmatic in 2005 bought Sequoia Voting Systems, which had contracts in 17 states. But it sold Sequoia in 2007 after an investigation was launched by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States into the company’s possible Venezuela ties.

Dominion eventually purchased assets of Sequoia in 2010, a company spokesperson said.

“The chairman of Smartmatic is a close business associate of George Soros.”

— Giuliani, on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nov. 15

Mark Malloch-Brown is chairman of SGO Corp., the parent company of Smartmatic. Malloch-Brown is also on the board of Soros’s Open Society Foundations, which makes grants to civil society groups. George Soros is a billionaire backer of liberal causes, so Giuliani is sending a dog whistle to his right-wing audience. Soros otherwise has no connection to Smartmatic.

“And this company had — and this company has tried-and-true methods for fixing elections by calling a halt to the voting when you’re running too far behind. They have done that in prior elections.”

— Giuliani, on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nov. 15

Giuliani has offered no evidence to back up this claim. In 2017, Smartmatic reported that the Venezuelan government reported a false turnout figure for a contested election, adding at least 1 million votes to the number. The company said the absence of election monitors from the opposition — which boycotted the election — allowed for the manipulation of turnout figures. The Venezuelan government, which needed a large turnout figure to lend legitimacy to the election, denied the numbers had been manipulated. The company stopped its work in Venezuela in 2018.

“Dominion is a company that’s owned by another company called Smartmatic through an intermediary company named Indra.”

— Giuliani, on Fox Business’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Nov. 12

Indra Sistemas is a Spanish technology company. Smartmatic says it has no ties to it.

“Now, what happened on election night? He [Trump] was ahead by 800,000 votes in Pennsylvania. Impossible to catch up, unless you’re cheating, and same thing in Michigan, Wisconsin. He was ahead in all those states by numbers that, in prior times — and I can show this to you — networks would have called for him. But they didn’t call it for him.”

— Giuliani, on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nov. 15

In all three states, absentee and early votes could not be counted until election night because of rules set by GOP-controlled legislatures. So in-person votes, which leaned Republican, were reported first. Just in Pennsylvania, more than 1.4 million votes still needed to be counted after midnight. Because these votes were overwhelmingly for Biden, Trump’s lead was wiped out as the hours ticked by.

The opposite nearly happened in Arizona. On election night, Biden had a lead of more than 130,000 votes, with 750,000 to be counted. But in this case, the remaining votes leaned Republican, so by the time all of the votes were counted, Biden’s lead had fallen to just 10,000.

“In Michigan, of course, we have a couple of extraordinary witnesses, one of whom was a Democrat who worked for 30 years for the city of Detroit, who will explain that she started getting trained in how to cheat in September of 2020.”

— Giuliani, on Fox Business’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Nov. 12

The next day, Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny denied a request to stop canvassing and certification of the county’s election results, saying the witnesses’ “interpretation of events is incorrect and not credible.” These were the “extraordinary witnesses” claimed by Giuliani.

“They will also testify to 100,000 ballots being shipped in about 4:00 in the morning, after they had stopped counting. And they got into a panic because they thought that they had made up the lead, and Trump was still ahead by 120,000 votes. So they brought these ballots in, in cars that had out-of — in trucks that had out-of-state license plates.

— Giuliani, on Fox Business’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Nov. 12

“We have evidence that 100,000 ballots were brought in at 4:30 in the morning and counted.”

— Giuliani, on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nov. 15

This claim stems from a single affidavit that was filed by an alleged witness, Melissa Carone, a contract IT worker for Dominion. But Carone, who made a number of voter-fraud claims, does not even leap to the conclusions that Giuliani makes.

In her affidavit, Carone simply says that food was brought in on two vans, but “I never saw any food coming out of the vans, coincidentally it was announced on the news that Michigan had found over 100,000 more ballots — not even two hours after the last van left.” She mentions nothing about out-of-state license plates or ballots being counted.

Kenny on Nov. 13 concluded that Carone’s “allegations are simply not credible.” Yet two days later, Giuliani repeated the claim, as if nothing had transpired in court to undermine it.

The Pinocchio Test

There’s no law that says you cannot lie on television. So Giuliani has made the rounds of TV shows, making outrageous claims that fall apart instantly. He even repeats claims that have been dismissed as not credible in court proceedings — and after the federal government has announced that no voting systems were breached. He earns Four Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios

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