Analysis

2020 Election rumors and facts – my analysis


I’ve spent the last few days reading lots of social media posts about things that supposedly happened, or are currently happening, as it relates to our most recent election.

I thought I would try to document these claims and do some quick analysis on them.  I hope to treat this as a “living document” that I will update as I encounter other claims. If you encounter a claim you would like to see me check out, leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to check out.

UPDATE: Some of you have asked why I am doing this.  As some of you know, I played a bit part in election security in the state of Georgia a few years ago.  Since that event (I don’t consider it an “incident” in the infosec-related sense of the word), I have had a passing interest in election security.  In the last couple of years, I have witnessed friends, family, and colleagues sharing information that was not factually correct.  Whether the sharing of factually accurate information was innocent (misinformation) or deliberate (disinformation), the potential damage to our elections process is substantial. 

This damage is being done without a malicious actor changing a single vote. 

This damage is being done without a malicious actor compromising a single voting or election system.

This damage is being done merely by spreading factually incorrect information via social media.

This damage concerns me, so this blog post is my attempt to try and lessen the damage.


Claim

A Pennsylvania judge illegally extended the timeline for vote counting.

Analysis

In October 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that state election officials had to count ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by Friday, November 6th at 5 pm.  The United States Supreme Court, in a 4-4 vote, declined to issue a stay on this ruling.

On November 6th, the United States Supreme Court issued an order signed by Justice Samuel Alito that directed the state of Pennsylvania to count mail ballots received after Election Day separately.  The instruction to segregate and separately count mail ballots received after Election Day had previously been given by Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar before Justice Alito issued his order.

Sources

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/supreme-court-allows-3-day-extension-pennsylvania-ballot-counting-n1243949

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/blog/meet-press-blog-latest-news-analysis-data-driving-political-discussion-n988541/ncrd1240367#blogHeader

https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/524900-supreme-court-orders-separate-count-of-late-arriving-pa-ballots


Claim

Election officials have denied political parties the right to observe the mail-in ballot-counting process and dispute any discrepancies found in a specific ballot.

Analysis

On Thursday, November 5th, the Trump campaign asked a Federal judge to stop ballot counting in Pennsylvania. It alleged that Republican observers were not allowed to watch workers processing ballots and counting votes.   Philadelphia election officials had required all poll watchers to stay 20 feet away during the counting process.  Also, on Thursday, November 5th, the Trump campaign obtained a Philadelphia state court order allowing poll watchers to be within 6 feet of the ballot counting process.

Sources

https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/11/05/trump-biden-election-live-updates/

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/pennsylvania-judge-permits-campaign-observers-close-view-ballot/story?id=74040279

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