Right-wing media and Trump tout Michigan “audit” by group with QAnon links

The 2020 presidential election has come to an end — but the “Kraken” conspiracy theories are still out there.

Right-wing media are promoting a purported “audit” this week of voting machines in Antrim County, Michigan, claiming it supposedly proves that voting machines from the Dominion company were designed to switch votes.

Newsmax featured an interview this week with an attorney working with the people behind the report, which claims that the voting machines were “intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.”

This tale comes from a particular variety of conspiracy theory, which latches onto a small kernel of truth but then twists it beyond any plausibility: An election night reporting error genuinely did occur, seemingly flipping the Republican county to Joe Biden for a time before the error was spotted and fixed. As the Detroit Free Press reported just days after the election, the county suffered from what was in essence a botched spreadsheet merger from across its precincts.

But President Donald Trump is still tweeting the allegation that Michigan’s voting machines were chronically inaccurate and for seemingly nefarious reasons.

The “audit,” however, is not an official public report, but was conducted as part of a private lawsuit. According to The New York Times, the group that conducted it, Allied Security Operations Group, is an affiliate of Everylegalvote.com, which has also published material associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The Detroit Free Press also pointed out this week other errors the report’s author has made in separate cases, in attempts to prove a vast conspiracy of election fraud:

Ramsland, a cybersecurity analyst and former Republican congressional candidate, mistook voting jurisdictions in Minnesota for Michigan towns in one recent flawed analysis of voter turnout in the Nov. 3 election. In another, filed in support of a federal lawsuit filed in Michigan, he made wildly inaccurate claims about voter turnout in various Michigan municipalities claiming that Detroit, where turnout was 51%, had turnout of 139%, and that North Muskegon, which had turnout of 78%, had voter turnout of 782%.

The Detroit News reported that the Republican county clerk in Antrim County dismissed the allegations: “I did read the report and find that there are many misleading statements that are simply not accurate.”

But predictably, some right-wing sites have been running with the story. Gateway Pundit claimed in a headline, “Forensic Report BOMBSHELL Reveals Dominion Machines Were Set At 68.05% Error Rate.” The Daily Wire also ran a headline, “Report Claims System ‘Designed’ To ‘Create Systemic Fraud.’” The Epoch Times is also spreading this story through its Spanish-language version.

Other right-wing media personalities who promoted this message include Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson, One America News chief White House correspondent Chanel Rion, Fox News and BlazeTV host Mark Levin, American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer, far-right blogger Pamela Geller, and Trump supporter and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell.

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs also gave the story a brief mention as a news headline on Tuesday evening.

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Citation From the December 15, 2020, edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight