Twitter bots and fake news sites are trying to overturn newly-elected Alabama Sen. Doug Jones (D)’s victory by spreading a viral news story alleging vote fraud in the heavily Republican state.
According to Fox 10 News, now Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill (R) is conducting an investigation based on calls from conservatives upset by a viral video being spread as part of the story.
Fox 10 News spoke with a young man of color at the Jones victory party on election night, who said, “(W)e came here all the way from different parts of the country as part of our fellowship, and all of us pitched in to vote and canvas together, and we got our boy elected!”
Republicans bitter over Roy Moore’s loss in the Dec. 12 special election have taken the man’s remarks as evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Sec. of State Merrill said, “Well, it’s very disconcerting when someone who’s not from Alabama says that they participated in our election, so now it’s incumbent upon us to try to identify this young man, to see what kind of role he played, if it was to simply play a canvassing roll, or if he was part of a process that went out and tried to register voters, or if he himself actually became a registered voter.”
Nonpartisan fact-checking agency PolitiFact reported that despite the fact that “there is no evidence of wide-spread voter fraud,” right-wing fake news sites are mounting a disinformation campaign to undermine Jones’ victory.
PolitiFact shot down three separate disinformation stories about the Alabama election and tracked their progress across “satirical” websites and social media.
“The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees statewide elections, doesn’t usually comment on reports of voter fraud, but it has not received reports in any numbers that would change the outcome of the election, Communications Director John Bennett told us on Dec. 13. That interview was for an article we wrote about a fake story that said 60,000 votes in Birmingham, Alabama, may be invalid,” said PolitiFact.
The site continued, “Since then, the same network of self-described ‘satirical’ websites that originally published that bogus story has fabricated several more advancing the idea that the outcome of that special election is questionable. A disclaimer on each of the affiliated websites states: ‘Everything on this site is fiction.’”
On Twitter, hashtags like #Alabama, #RoyMoore and #VoteFraud are being proliferated by “bot” accounts.
— Make America Great (@GR8AmericaAgain) December 19, 2017
THERE IS #NOWAYTOSTOP #YOUTUBE'S #MOST #XPLOSIVE #VIRAL #VIDEO @ #ALABAMA #VOTERFRAUD @ #TRUMP https://t.co/xX3wQ9KOzm #Explosive #Money #GreatestShowman #AGoodTimeIn4Words #GOPTaxBillScam#TheVoiceFinale #Bernie #Hillary #Scam #Dems #Gop #Senate #Congress Say #adios #Obamacare
— Forex Quick Trades (@Forex_Signal_Tr) December 20, 2017
https://t.co/EnzYeqnFzO THE #WEB'S #MOSTVIRAL #VIRAL #YOUTUBE #VIDEO IT IS #OUT OF #FUCKING #CONTROL THE #VOTERFRAUD #ALABAMA LET'S GET THIS 1,000,000 #VIEWS #EXPOSE #SOROS AND #DEMOCRATS #DEMS #FRAUD #AL #SCAM #STOLEN #SHAM #ELECTION #RedefineGiving #cacerolazo #FelizMartes #SI
— Idella Johnson (@GadgetsPhones1) December 19, 2017
“Vote fraud” by black and Latino voters is a favorite right-wing bogeyman. Republicans have used it to justify vote-suppressing voter ID laws in multiple states. In fact, the phenomenon is vanishingly rare.