The Damage of Misinformation During the Election

The Damage of Misinformation During the Election

Sebastian Paredes and Staff

Right now, if you looked up the phrase “Voter Fraud” on a social media site like Twitter or Facebook, you would find hundreds of claims that this presidential election was riddled with immense irregularities, cheating, and deception. Some of these claims include “WISCONSIN HAS MORE VOTES THAN REGISTERED VOTERS,” “PENNSYLVANIA IS BACKDATING MAIL-IN BALLOTS,” and most popularly, “JOE BIDEN AND THE DEMOCRATS ARE STEALING THIS ELECTION.”  As these statements gained traction, fact-checkers proved them completely false.  In addition to this, the Attorneys General and Secretaries of State of the places where this alleged fraud occurred have all confirmed they trust the voting process. So why have these claims been taken seriously by so many people without any proof, and why could this lack of trust in voting immensely damage the strong democratic process we have in the United States?

First, to understand why misinformation and fake news spread so easily over social media sites, we have to look at the phenomenon of confirmation bias. In short, the phenomenon states that humans tend to believe whatever confirms their preexisting beliefs, regardless of if the information presented is true or false. This can easily be seen in this current presidential election. If people believe that fraud is occurring, they will try to find and spread information that confirms the fraud, even if it is false.  And by no means is this phenomenon only seen in Republican circles.  Democrats on the app TikTok spread the rumor that Donald Trump was hiring actors to attend his rallies and speeches. This rumor was completely false as well, and barely any people checked the validity of it.

However, there is a huge difference between ordinary people spreading false rumors and politicians and trusted government officials spreading false information. When President Donald Trump rambles on his Twitter that “There was a large number of secretly dumped ballots as has been widely reported,” it transforms what were baseless accusations into huge critiques of the democratic process in this country. The President isn’t the only one spreading false information; infamous Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham (who are considered potential 2024 Republican Presidential nominees) are spewing these false statements on Fox News without any sort of shame.  As our new President-Elect Joe Biden so eloquently said, “It’s an embarrassment.”

After the false and misleading tweets by the sitting President, the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council & The Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees released a joint statement [Original release date: November 12, 2020]:

“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result. When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised. Other security measures like pre-election testing, state certification of voting equipment, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) certification of voting equipment help to build additional confidence in the voting systems used in 2020. While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

With this spread of misinformation by mostly Republican leaders, not only does the United States appear incompetent on the world stage, but people start to lose faith in the process of voting that is the basis of the U.S government. As a person who is originally from Venezuela, a place where voter fraud does actually occur on a massive scale, it is irresponsible for these leaders to brew ideas that demolish the voting process that is admired around the world for its fairness. So far, almost every single statement by Donald Trump where he spreads false claims has been censored by Twitter, and for good reason. Our Commander-In-Chief should not spread and endorse false claims of voter fraud that will be taken as facts by his millions of supporters. He is creating further conflict between Democrats and Republicans for no good reason and is breaking the trust U.S citizens have in the voting process.