'Voter fraud' video is from 2018 Russian election
Fact checkers were busy after the Nov. 3 election and the announcement last Saturday that Democrat Joe Biden had enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency. Challenges to the results and claims of voter fraud flooded social media.
One video, shared nearly 2,000 times, shows a group of poll workers, behind two voting booths, placing ballots in a white box.
"Here we have staffers stuffing ballots in flint mi," read the caption on a Facebook post that began circulating days after the votes were cast.
But the video wasn't taken during the recent presidential election, nor was it shot anywhere near Flint, Michigan, according to The Associated Press.
The clip is from a 2018 Washington Post report about ballot stuffing in Russia.
The original video was posted online March 19, 2018, following reports of ballot stuffing during the Russian election, which had taken place the previous day.
In the video, the Russian coat of arms can be seen on the ballot box and the polling booths, a clue it wasn't shot in the U.S., the AP said.
Data error retweeted by Trump
While the votes were being tallied, a data glitch caused false information to be broadcast. Before the error could be corrected, screenshots of the misinformation were posted on social media and retweeted by President Donald Trump.
The original tweet shared by the president, which was later deleted, included updated vote totals in Michigan, with Biden receiving 138,339 new votes while Trump didn't receive any, according to Vox Media.
The update showed side-by-side maps issued by election reporting website Decision Desk HQ that had Biden receiving all those votes. The president's retweet was liked more than 129,000 times and shared 59,000 times.
Decision Desk told Vox that the misinformation was the result of a "simple error from a file created by the state that we ingested."
When the mistake was identified, the state issued a new update, Decision Desk said in a statement.
"This happens quite a bit on election night, and we expect other vote tabulators in MI experienced this error and corrected in real-time like we did," the company said.
The Detroit Free Press tweeted a graph showing the actual totals.
"You may have seen a map or graph going around that alleges Biden 'found' 138,000+ votes overnight to overtake Trump in Michigan, with people claiming it's evidence of an election being 'stolen,'" the Free Press said. "That's false. Here are the facts. And a correct graph."
Biden comment out of context
Among allegations of voter fraud making the rounds on the internet, a manipulated video appears to show President-elect Biden saying the Democrats created a voter fraud operation.
The video uses a select segment of a clip in which Biden was actually speaking about ways to combat voter fraud, according to The Washington Post.
"Republicans are doing everything they can to make it harder for people to vote -- particularly people of color -- to vote," Biden said during an interview last month.
"So go to IWILLVOTE.com. Secondly, we're in a situation where we have put together, and you guys did it for our administration -- President Obama's administration before this -- we have put together I think the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics."
Using just a section of this quote is a form of "isolation" according to the Post's guide on manipulated videos, described as "sharing a brief clip from a longer video that creates a false narrative that does not reflect the event as it occurred."
Newly elected Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted the misleading video along with the comment, "Joe Biden Said On Video That Democrats Built the Biggest 'Voter Fraud' Operation in History. We're seeing it on full display right now!"
Her post was shared by Eric Trump, the president's son, and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. It was, however, blocked by Facebook and labeled "misleading" by Twitter.
Trump not Fox informant
Fox News host Laura Ingraham recently interviewed an anonymous poll worker from Nevada who claimed to have witnessed rampant voter fraud. Shortly after Ingraham's show aired, a version of the interview was posted on Twitter insisting the poll worker "is definitely Trump."
But the anonymous worker is definitely not Trump, according to Snopes.com.
The retweeted video was altered and overdubbed by Tennessee comedian Nick Lutsko.
During the actual interview, Ingraham refers to the poll worker as a woman. The guest's face is not shown and her voice is altered, making it sound high pitched and cartoonish.
In the manipulated section of the video posted by Lutsko, the voice appears to be an altered version of the president.
Twitter user Jared Holt shared the altered clip along with the comment, "Nick is a very funny comedian and any self-serious person who shared this as if (it) was real should probably be on your unfollow list."
• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.