Debunking Mike Lindell's election fraud claims
Mike Lindell has been one of the loudest and most prominent voices pushing election fraud conspiracy theories, starting almost immediately after the 2020 election. To date, Lindell has produced no original evidence of his own, either publicly or after multiple requests from the Star Tribune. Instead, Lindell relies on previously-debunked claims from other sources to back up his argument that both foreign and domestic actors "stole" the election from Donald Trump.
1. Machine fraud
Lindell claims that Dominion Voting Systems preloaded algorithms in its voting machines around the country to illegally give more votes to Joe Biden than Trump. This scheme was "revealed," he said, when many more votes than expected came in for Trump on election night, thereby "breaking" Dominion's algorithm and forcing co-conspirators to shut down vote counting to tilt races back toward Biden. To bolster this claim, Lindell pointed to delays in tabulating ballots across multiple swing states.
Who first claimed this: Attorney Sidney Powell, who is also being sued for defamation by Dominion, began making the claim about machine algorithms as early as Nov. 8 via frequent social media posts, in numerous conservative media interviews and at news conferences while as a temporary associate of Trump's legal team. She did not provide evidence and Trump's legal team later cut ties with Powell.
Fact-check: The federal agency that oversees U.S. election security — the CyberSecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) — stated that there is no evidence that any of Dominion's systems switched votes for Trump to count for Biden. CISA also reported that changes in vote totals in the days after Election Day reflected the increase in mail voting — with states having different policies for counting such ballots — and not evidence of wrongdoing.
2. Vote flipping
Lindell claims 7,000 votes were flipped from Trump to Biden in the GOP-leaning county of Antrim in Michigan.
Who first claimed this: Claims that voting machines in Antrim County were being used to steal votes went viral soon after Election Day, and Trump cited it in statements in early December.
Fact-check: This false claim originated after unofficial results showed Biden suspiciously leading by a large margin. This was caused by human error after the county clerk, a Republican, accidentally did not update the software to collect voting machine data, according to the Michigan Department of State. The error was corrected by Nov. 5, and a Dec. 17 hand recount of paper ballots confirmed that Dominion's voting machines accurately tabulated the votes cast for president in Antrim County, which Trump won by 3,800 votes.
3. Foreign interference
Lindell claims that multiple foreign countries, led by China, hacked voting machines to change votes from Trump to Biden. Lindell claimed to have evidence of IP address analyses that he said proved foreign computer servers infiltrated American voting systems and changed votes.
Who first claimed this: Lindell repeats allegations made in early January on a conspiracy theorist website called the American Report.
Fact-check: According to CISA, it's not possible to hack electronic voting machines without the intrusion being discovered via auditable logs and software checks of voting systems. Last year, each state's postelection review found no evidence of vote manipulation by foreign hackers or any other widespread fraud.
4. Dead people and other ineligible voters
Lindell's unsubstantiated fraud allegations, taken together, paint a picture of tens of thousands of ineligible voters participating in each swing state in numbers that exceed Biden's margin of victory. Lindell began his Feb. 5 "Absolute Proof" video by cycling through charts listing large numbers of dead people and ineligible voters but providing no sourcing. He alleges that more than 10,000 dead people voted in Georgia and that 100,000 mail ballots were "backdated" by the U.S. Postal Service in Wisconsin.
Who first claimed this: A trucking employee alleged in a Dec. 1 news conference that he heard postal service employees suggest that they had backdated ballots after the election so they would count. In a failed legal challenge to Georgia's election results, Trump's attorneys cited claims from Bryan Geels, a certified public accountant who owns a data analytics firm, that 10,315 dead voters participated.
Fact-check: Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said only two voters in the 2020 presidential election were found to be deceased. Under Wisconsin state law, mail ballots received after Election Day would not have been counted even if Lindell's claim was true. No state's certification process — which included multiple recounts in several key swing states — revealed any widespread fraud that prevented the certification of their election results.