The Actual World Impression Of A Voting Machine Conspiracy Principle : NPR

A ballot employee sanitizes a voting machine on Nov. 3, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. Conspiracy theories floated former President Trump about gear made Dominion Voting Methods has led native officers in a single Ohio County to decelerate the acquisition of recent Dominion machines.

Matthew Hatcher/Getty Photographs

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Matthew Hatcher/Getty Photographs

A ballot employee sanitizes a voting machine on Nov. 3, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. Conspiracy theories floated former President Trump about gear made Dominion Voting Methods has led native officers in a single Ohio County to decelerate the acquisition of recent Dominion machines.

Matthew Hatcher/Getty Photographs

A conspiracy idea sown former President Donald Trump and his allies to solid doubt on his loss final yr has trickled all the way down to county-level politics, impeding one Ohio county’s potential to buy new voting gear forward of native elections this yr.

The idea falsely claims voting machines made an organization known as Dominion modified votes to swing the election in favor of now-President Biden. A number of audits and recounts in states and counties that used the corporate’s gear confirmed that the machines precisely recorded the vote totals final November.

However these audits and recounts have not stopped Republican county officers in Stark County, Ohio, residence to Canton, from slowing the procurement effort for brand spanking new machines. Voters within the county twice voted for Barack Obama then twice — double digits — for Donald Trump.

The controversy began in December, when the bipartisan Stark County Board of Elections voted unanimously to exchange its getting older voting machines with new ones from Dominion.

Since that vote, the county’s three prime elected officers, all Republicans, say they have been getting an earful from voters.

“The board of commissioners has obtained a whole lot of communications from involved residents,” County Commissioner Invoice Smith mentioned throughout a public assembly final month. “This response from the general public has far exceeded the response any of us have obtained on any subject to come back earlier than our board.”

Throughout that two-hour assembly, Smith pushed the board of elections director to handle voters’ fears that Dominion machines should not safe.

“They simply wish to be sure that it is legitimate, it is counted. You are going with the one with the cloud, proper now, over its head,” he mentioned.

That cloud shouldn’t be primarily based in reality however was created Trump and allies similar to his lawyer and former New York Metropolis mayor Rudy Giuliani. At the least one conservative group has tried to maintain stirring the opposition to Stark County’s Dominion buy.

Among the many strongest defenders of the acquisition is the county’s prime elections official, Jeff Matthews, who can be chair of the native Republican Social gathering. Matthews additionally leads the board that checks and certifies voting machines statewide.

In the course of the February public assembly in regards to the buy, Matthews defended Dominion and the integrity of the 2020 election.

“Refusing to acknowledge that this election was protected, safe and correct may be considered as nothing lower than attacking the peaceable switch of energy,” Matthews mentioned. “A number of the claims made about Dominion Voting Methods are past absurd and require one to droop all vital thought.”

Within the weeks since that assembly, the county’s commissioners have but to approve the $6.5 million contract. With state help and a credit score from Dominion, the machines would price Stark County solely about $1.5 million immediately.

A call may come later this month. Neither commissioners nor Matthews responded to a number of interview requests.

The wave of calls from voters questioning Dominion caught the county commissioners unexpectedly, based on Sam Ferruccio, the chairman of the county board of elections.

“The county commissioners have been simply, I believe, caught off guard as to, ‘Is that this actual or not?’ ” Ferruccio, a Democrat, mentioned in an interview. “And mainly, we needed to, on the work session, clarify to them that it isn’t actual, these machines have labored effectively, we have not had any points.”

Election officers in Stark County wished to exchange their machines forward of an area major this yr, which is predicted to attract decrease turnout than subsequent yr’s midterms.

The actual Dominion voting machine that the county board needs to purchase is a touchscreen machine with a paper audit path that was utilized in 11 Ohio counties final yr, based on the Ohio Secretary of State’s Workplace. Trump received all of these counties.

Put up-election audits discovered the leads to 9 of these counties to be 100% correct, based on information launched the secretary of state. The miniscule discrepancies within the different two counties weren’t attributed to the machines.

“Our hope is that we proceed to have a very sincere and open dialog about info versus fiction,” mentioned Kay Stimson, a spokeswoman for Dominion Voting Methods.

The corporate has made a gross sales consultant out there to reply native officers’ questions, she mentioned.

“We’re displaying as much as do the laborious work of reducing disinformation, and on the most granular ranges in Stark County,” she mentioned. “We’re additionally very a lot supported the Ohio Secretary of State’s Workplace.”

Dominion’s staff have endured loss of life threats because of the conspiracy theories, with no less than one engineer persevering with to stay in hiding. The opposite means Dominion is making an attempt to chop the disinformation is within the courts. The corporate has filed large defamation lawsuits towards Giuliani and different Trump allies about their false rhetoric. Stimson says there are extra such lawsuits to come back.

Election directors have labored for years to make sure there are processes in place for vetting voting machines, based on Auburn College political science professor Mitchell Brown.

The individuals who run elections might want to hold speaking with the general public to reassure them about election safety, she mentioned. Politicians and legislators ought to hearken to election officers, too, notably as state lawmakers creator a wave of recent voting legal guidelines, she mentioned.

“Persevering with to fabricate conspiracy with none credible proof simply to fire up the bottom, simply to fundraise, simply to attempt to hold energy is de facto irresponsible,” Brown mentioned.

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