- The Iowa caucuses were thrown into chaos Monday night, with results delayed indefinitely after problems with an app designed to transmit voter data.
- President Donald Trump’s campaign and his top allies, including the Fox News host Sean Hannity, have claimed the delay showed that the 2020 presidential election was being “rigged” by Democrats.
- State election officials have said the accusation is false, and Iowa’s Republican secretary of state, Paul Pate, accused such claims as “fake news.”
- “They should stop this misinformation campaign immediately and quit trying to disenfranchise Iowa voters,” Pate said in a statement.
- Republicans have long alleged that immigrants are seeking to sway elections by voting illegally, a claim Democrats have denounced as racist scare-mongering.
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Top allies of President Donald Trump are spreading groundless allegations of conspiracies and voter fraud in the Iowa caucuses, and the Republican official who heads the state’s election commission has accused them of spreading “fake news” in a bid to disenfranchise Iowan voters.
Late on Monday, Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, tweeted that the Democratic Party’s citing “quality control” for delaying its announcement of the caucus results could indicate the votes were being “rigged.”
Quality control = rigged? ???? https://t.co/rJY3gdRccE
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) February 4, 2020
It echoes an attack long favoured by the president, who has claimed the Democratic establishment is seeking to tilt the result against Sen. Bernie Sanders, a frontrunner from the party’s liberal wing.
The claims are an apparent bid to exacerbate divisions in the Democratic Party. Trump and his team are said to be trying to boost Sanders’ profile because they believe the progressive would be easier to beat.
‘Another dumpster fire’
Sean Hannity, the Fox News host who is an informal Trump adviser, also claimed Democrats were conspiring to rig the primary election against Sanders after a poll by The New York Times and Siena College showed him in the lead.
“The Democratic primary is shaping up to be yet another dumpster fire like it was in 2016,” Hannity said in his Monday-night show. “Socialist Bernie Sanders has surged into the lead and the Democratic establishment is in a state of shock and panic.”
Attempts to cast doubt on the integrity of the poll were initiated as early as Sunday by Tom Fitton, the president of the pro-Trump conservative group Judicial Watch.
Fitton claimed that “eight Iowa counties have more voter registrations than citizens old enough to register.”
BREAKING: @JudicialWatch: Eight Iowa Counties Have Total Registration Rates Larger than Eligible Voter Population – at Least 18,658 Extra Names on Iowa Voting Rolls – https://t.co/OoHoXYyPTR https://t.co/M1qMMJJDdu
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) February 3, 2020
This claim has since been pushed by other conservatives, including Hannity and Turning Point USA’s president, Charlie Kirk, who among them have more than 20 million followers on Twitter.
Top Iowa Republican: ‘Stop this misinformation campaign immediately’
These claims of voter fraud have appeared so far-reaching that Paul Pate, the Republican secretary of state of Iowa, has had to issue a statement debunking them.
Pate – who has historically backed tighter voter-identification laws – on Monday night accused Hannity of spreading “fake news” and published data from state electoral officials to back up his statement.
“It’s disappointing to see you spread this #FakeNews,” Pate tweeted, referring to Hannity. “Their claims are FALSE.”
.@seanhannity It's disappointing to see you spread this #FakeNews. Their claims are FALSE. The actual numbers, compiled every month by my office and readily available for anyone to view, tell a much different story, with #FACTS: https://t.co/eq8ew0TvTg
— Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (@IowaSOS) February 3, 2020
In a separate statement, Pate said: “My office has told this organisation, and others who have made similar claims, that their data regarding Iowa is deeply flawed and their false claims erode voter confidence in elections.
“They should stop this misinformation campaign immediately and quit trying to disenfranchise Iowa voters.”
But Fitton has refused to back down, telling The Washington Post on Monday: “It’s all very interesting and curious, but the fact is our data shows eight counties over 100%.”
Hannity, undeterred, also tweeted the claim again early Tuesday.
Republicans have baselessly accused Democrats of voter fraud for years
Republicans have long alleged that elections are being tainted by voter fraud, a claim that even an independent investigation commissioned by the Trump administration did not find evidence to support.
Democrats, meanwhile, have said claims of voter fraud are part of a push by conservatives to suppress the minority vote in US elections.
The controversy comes as experts warn that domestic actors are likely to be one of the main sources of disinformation in the 2020 presidential election.
In the wake of the 2016 election, when Russian trolls spread disinformation designed to boost the Trump campaign and erode confidence in American democracy, social-media platforms introduced a series of measures to tackle the problem.
But in a statement to The Post on Monday, the Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough said the platform would not act against the claim spread by Fitton.
“The tweet you referenced is not in violation of our election integrity policy as it does not suppress voter turnout or mislead people about when, where, or how to vote,” she told the publication.
- Read more:
- Trump is using the ‘unmitigated disaster’ of the Iowa caucuses to troll Democrats and say the only person who can claim victory is him
- 2020 Democratic candidates are claiming their own Iowa caucus results to fill the vacuum caused by a technical delay. Here’s what they’re saying.
- Trump is trying to boost Bernie Sanders’ profile to help him clinch the Democratic 2020 nomination, but it could backfire
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