Beyond Capitol riot, Trump voter fraud claims leave their mark
United States election officials say ‘unprecedented’ spread of misinformation has eroded trust in voting system.
For Bonnie Scheele, the 2020 United States presidential contest was incomparable.
The need to tamp down conspiracies and misinformation, fuelled in large part by President Donald Trump’s false contention that widespread voter fraud occurred in the state, was unlike anything the Republican election clerk in the US state of Michigan had seen before.
“I can’t seem to convince people that there isn’t some sort of conspiracy or fraud,” said Scheele, a clerk in the right-leaning county of Grand Traverse who had to contend with a viral video in the wake of the November 3 election that alleged local postal workers backdated mail-in ballots.
Despite President-elect Joe Biden’s commanding margin of victory in Michigan of more than 154,000 votes, Trump contended that thousands of dead people voted and that piles of fraudulent Biden ballots were added to the count after Election Day.
Even after rioters – egged on by Trump’s assertions that the vote was “rigged” and “stolen” – overran the US Capitol on January 6 as Congress met to certify the final election results, the president has not dispelled his claims.
Instead, he maintained in a video released during the riot that “we had an election that was stolen from us”. Facing mounting pressure, he tepidly acknowledged a day later that Biden would take office on January 20.