Far-right extremists are spreading misinformation on election day in America as voters head to the polls, according to a new analysis published by The Washington Post.
"The torrent of misinformation battering American democracy on Tuesday showed how myths built up over the last two years have created an alternative online ecosystem where all unfavorable election outcomes are suspect," the newspaper reported. "The paranoia and preemptive effort to discredit the results of the midterms found perhaps clearest expression in a headline on a website devoted to disseminating conspiracy theories about the pro-Trump siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, an attack propelled in large part by online misinformation. 'Expect the steal,' the website warned."
As voting was underway, Donald Trump posted, "reports are coming in from Arizona that the Voting Machines are not properly working in predominantly Republican/Conservative areas. Can this possibly be true when a vast majority of Republicans waited for today to Vote? Here we go again? The people will not stand for it!!!"
The newspaper noted GOP expectations of massive voter fraud have become, "political doctrine for whole swaths of the country."
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Trump also complained that it will take days to count the votes in Pennsylvania, but much of the focus was on Arizona.
"Problems with machines at some voting locations in Maricopa County, home to more than half of Arizona’s voters, became grist for prominent right-wing voices who deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election to claim without evidence that Tuesday’s vote was also fraudulent," The Post reported. "Those preemptively suggesting something nefarious was occurring included Blake Masters, Arizona’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. Masters, who is vying to unseat Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), was the most prominent candidate to amplify the suspicions, painting incidents of mechanical errors as part of a Democratic ploy."
The Maricopa County Elections Department offered guidance on social media.
"If a tabulator is not working at a site, you can still vote! You have the option to cast your ballot and place it into the secure ballot box," the county explained. "The poll workers on site at the voting location are best equipped to help you ensure your ballot cast."
Still, the stakes are very high in the county.
Politico's Charlie Mahtesian noted, "Maricopa is home to Phoenix and more than 60% of AZ population. It's a media market that saw roughly $382 million in ad spending this cycle...and it's the western capital of election denialism."