The pro-Trump One America News Network not only prematurely called the Alabama Senate election for Roy Moore on Tuesday — it also was caught promoting a conspiracy theory about Mississippians trying to cast illegal votes in the election.
As Dave Weigel at the Washington Post reported Thursday, OANN appears to have pre-empted the conspiracy theory cited by conservative radio host Bill Mitchell. In an election night report captured on video, a reporter for the alternative cable network claimed that they’d heard of 50 instances of attempted voter fraud, mostly with people from Mississippi.
“We have reports that a number of people have been caught trying to sneak into voting booths and vote illegally,” OANN correspondent Pearson Sharp said in the video. “[Moore’s] campaign told me that most of the people who have been turned away so far have been across the state line in Mississippi. But they say that voting fraud hasn’t been too much of a problem yet, and that only 50 people had been caught.”
Thank You for ignoring the #DeepState lies, and showing up in droves to support Judge #RoyMoore for #AlabamaSenate‼️ If early turnout holds true, The Judge will win in a “Landslide” WATCH @OANN @PearsonSharp #ALSen #AlabamaSenateElection pic.twitter.com/07sEbOHMJJ
— ProudPatriot (@MAGA_Len) December 12, 2017
By Wednesday, that theory made its way to Mitchell, who was summarily dismissed by tens of thousands of Twitter users.
I am hearing rumors that black voters from MS were encouraged to cross over into AL and vote. Anyone else hearing this? Anything to it? That might explain the 30% turnout higher than population percentage. Just reporting the rumor.
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) December 13, 2017
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s office, who “sided with Moore’s campaign during several election controversies,” confirmed to the Post that they had not received credible complaints of voter fraud surrounding Tuesday’s election.
“There’s a lot of misdirection that comes in around Election Day,” Merrill’s spokesperson John Bennett. “We got no reports that caused us enough concern to act against them.”