A deranged conspiracy theory promoted on Twitter by Trump campaign strategic adviser Boris Epshteyn is illustrative of how quickly conspiracy theories about voter fraud can spread from the cesspools of the internet to social media and then to high-level figures in President Donald Trump’s campaign.
In the wake of Election Day, Trump has been attempting to steal the election by claiming he has won in states that he has not and by making numerous baseless claims that election results that are unfavorable to him are the result of voter fraud. Trump supporters have already responded to the president’s claims by attempting to disrupt election procedures in Michigan and Arizona.
On November 4 at 7:44 p.m. CST, an anonymous user of 4chan’s /pol/ message board, which is known for promoting bigotry and anti-Semitism, posted an image that purported to be from a vote-counting location in Detroit. The image supposedly showed that eight people with birth dates 1/1/1900 had successfully voted in the 2020 election -- at the age of 120 years. In reality, 1/1/1900 is the “default date” used by Michigan for instances where the state does not have a registered voter’s birthday. Voters with incomplete registration information can have their votes recorded by providing photo identification at the polls. Furthermore, simple internet searches of the names observed in the image posted to 4chan indicate the individuals’ actual ages are within a typical human lifespan.
Just 12 minutes later, at 7:56 p.m. CST, a Twitter user who goes by the name of Eric Block, posted a cropped photo from the 4chan post with the message “Dead voters in Michigan. Look at the birth date. @realDonaldTrump.” Block’s Twitter profile, and the tweets he has sent, indicate that he is an enthusiastic supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which includes many anti-Semitic elements, has been labeled a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI, and has been tied to acts of violence, including murder.
Approximately four hours later, Block’s dead voter claim was retweeted by Trump campaign “2020 Strategic Advisor” Boris Epshteyn, who is known for having pushed ludicrous pro-Trump propaganda while working for Sinclair Broadcast Group in between 2016 and 2020 Trump campaign stints.
Block’s tweet is no longer available on Twitter; it is unclear whether he deleted it or Twitter took it down. The original image posted to 4chan is still available on Twitter from the account of Mike Coudrey, who is known for spreading far-right disinformation, including other bogus claims of fraud about election results this week. Coudrey’s tweet has been retweeted more than 4,000 times.
WOW: Photos from the Michigan voter database show numerous “voters” who have the birth year of 1/1/1900.
That means they are all 120 years old!
— Mike Coudrey (@MichaelCoudrey) November 5, 2020
Although Block’s tweet is no longer available, Epshteyn has continued to promote other disinformation about voter fraud and election results on Twitter.