Immediately after it became clear that President Donald Trump had not won a decisive victory on election night, conspiracies about electoral theft began circulating across the right-wing media ecosystem. Tweets from the President and his backers were repeatedly flagged on Twitter for spreading unproven election claims. And the longer the count dragged on, the more these false claims proliferated.
But these claims about a “stolen” election that started on conservative websites like The Federalist soon found themselves being repeated by more extreme outlets. White nationalists unsurprisingly seized on these claims in order to preemptively paint a Biden victory as illegitimate.
The day after Americans went to the polls, neo-fascist and white nationalist podcaster Nick Fuentes devoted an episode of his DLive show, America First, to hyping unfounded claims of fraud.
“And the only thing you need to know right now, the most important thing, is that this thing is rigged,” he falsely claimed. “They cheated. We won the election and now, where our heads need to be at, is doing everything in our power to prevent them from getting away with this.” But his examples of “fraud” have already been debunked by fact-checkers.
For example, Fuentes mentioned the “red mirage” — the phenomenon by which it would appear that President Trump was ahead on election night due to counting in-person votes first, which skewed heavily in his favor. That lead in some states was expected to dissipate, however, due to the counting of mail-in and early votes that favored Biden.
And the reason why mail-in votes were so favorable to Biden was because President Trump and right-wing media outlets had repeatedly cast doubt on their reliability.
Fuentes said this was a conspiracy, and cited as evidence Facebook and Twitter’s promises to place warnings on statements made by candidates which prematurely declared victory. Fuentes pointed out that they’d “never done that” before. This is true, but what he failed to mention was that on November 1, Axios reported that Trump planned to do just that.
And, true to form, that is precisely what Trump did in the early morning of November 4, telling a room of supporters, “We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.”
“The final straw for me, the final red flag, was the incessant questions to the president about ‘Will you peacefully transfer? Will there be a peaceful transfer of power?’” he said. “They did the same thing in 2016.” Again, Fuentes is correct that this happened before, but only because the president suggested he would only accept the election results if he won.
He then said that the Democrats’ plan would be to count the mail-in ballots after running through all the in-person votes, and “determine how many fraudulent ballots that they need to tip a swing state, or many of them, in favor of Joe Biden.” He provided no evidence for this, instead saying that they began “finding” mail-in ballots which changed the vote tally.
The problem is, no one was “finding” ballots. The count was still going on November 4 when Fuentes recorded this show, and in several states the count is still ongoing. Nick Fuentes is ultimately angry at math, not at widespread voter fraud.
[The following clips are from a two hour and fifty-six minute episode of America First.]
During an episode of Patriotic Weekly Review posted to the extremist-friendly video-hosting site Bitchute, white nationalist Jason Köhne called the results an “anti-white coup by the Democrats.” He alleged that Democrats had been counting votes “after the fact” and “after the election” — which is actually entirely normal — and complained about mail-in voting.
In trying to explain why Democrats would commit fraud on a massive scale to elect Joe Biden as president but not commit fraud to gain control of the Senate or expand their lead in the House, Köhne he claimed that the fraud “needed to be as minimal as possible to win.” That way it would be harder to uncover, which incidentally still makes no sense, since the fraud he’s describing would still be unprecedented.
And like Fuentes, he pointed to the fact that Trump’s position looked far stronger on November 3 than on subsequent days, due to the “red mirage” phenomenon. Köhne blamed the “anti-white media” for even mentioning the real possibility that in-person votes would skew heavily toward Trump while mail-in and early voting would skew toward Biden.
In addition, he pointed to the fact that some counties paused vote counting overnight, claiming this was done to “narrow the fraud.” But as Jane Lytvynenko and Craig Silverman pointed out in a BuzzFeed News piece debunking common election rumors, decisions to halt counting to let poll workers sleep varied by place, and had no impact on the vote count.
Köhne also parroted false claims that Republican voters in Arizona were given Sharpie markers to fill out their ballots, thereby invalidating them. This conspiracy, referred to as “#Sharpiegate” on Twitter, has been repeatedly debunked by both fact-checkers and Arizona election officials. A tweet by the Maricopa County Elections Department noted that Sharpies are used to prevent the ink from smudging.
And multiple white nationalists appeared on a Red Ice TV livestream on November 5 to claim the election was being stolen in front of everyone’s eyes. White nationalist and Confederate apologist podcaster James Edwards told Red Ice hosts Lana Lokteff and Henrik Palmgren that “you clearly have fraud taking place” in “Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Milwaukee.”
Edwards had no actual evidence to back up this claim, instead mentioning “anecdotal evidence of dead people voting” and Trump ballots being destroyed. So far there has been no evidence of either of these things happening. A false claim had been circulating about votes being cast in dead peoples’ names in Michigan, and a viral hoax suggested that ballots filled out for Trump had been burned.
Edwards also falsely claimed that Democrats had committed fraud in Alabama’s 2017 special election in which Doug Jones, a Democrat, defeated Roy Moore. Edwards said Moore had the race “well in hand” before votes were counted in the “Blackest inner city neighborhoods of Birmingham.” And he attacked what he called “obese Black women” counting the votes in the cities he mentioned.
Ethnonationalist YouTube host Rebecca Hargraves (a.k.a. “Blonde in the Belly of the Beast”) claimed the U.S. was now a “multicultural banana republic” and asked if we would need international election observers “like we’re friggin’ Kenya.” (The U.S. government has in the past invited international election observers.)
After calling it a “brazen attempt to rig the election,” Hargraves cited a false smear by Project Veritas that connected Somali-Americans — and Rep. Ilhan Omar in particular — to a ballot harvesting scheme. Setting aside the fact that ballot harvesting is legal in Minnesota, the whistleblower Project Veritas relied on lied about his credentials and an alleged ballot harvester claimed he had been bribed to lie about his connections to Rep. Omar.
Vincent James Foxx told Lokteff and Palmgren that there were “statistical impossibilities” in the election, “especially in Wisconsin.” Wisconsin was the subject of a false claim that the number of people who voted exceeded the total number of registered voters. He also repeated bogus concerns that vote counting stopped at night and resumed in the early morning.
Minutes later Foxx also suggested that Biden could not have won because it “doesn’t make any sense” for him to have gotten more votes than Barack Obama in 2008. (Record election turn-out was expected this year.) Henrik Palmgren managed to make an even dumber point by suggesting that Biden must have lost because fewer people attended his rallies in the lead-up to the election.
Another guest, antisemitic retired professor Kevin MacDonald, warned that if Biden wins in the face of Republican allegations of voter fraud, Americans might “tune out of the system.” He added that this will lay the “ground for revolution” and “civil wars.” Henrik Palmgren also repeated the false claim that ballots were mysteriously “dumped” in several states to erase Trump’s lead.
[The following clips are from a three hour and forty-six minute livestream of Red Ice TV.]