Lie goes national, and adds to burden of local election heroes.
For most of America it’s a spectator sport, watching this bizarre endgame play out from the 2020 presidential election. Only a handful of states have been targeted with wild claims about who did or did not win, hanging on the highly suspect premise that hundreds of thousands of votes coast-to-coast are tainted by agents of a deep and dark conspiracy.
Unfortunately, not only is Wisconsin -- which Joe Biden won this year by roughly the same margin as Donald Trump did in 2016 -- one of those states, but now Rock County finds itself in the crosshairs.
Here’s why. Gateway Pundit, a conservative website, published a claim that thousands of Rock County votes had been switched election night from President Trump to President-elect Biden.
That is fake news, even though the link was tweeted out by Eric Trump and others claiming Biden had lost his lead in Wisconsin and President Trump really should be ahead.
The article uses a screenshot of vote totals not from Rock County’s official election website, but from a Fox News reporting site. Gateway Pundit claimed that proved a “glitch” had taken away votes from Trump and given them to Biden.
The transposed numbers seem to have originated with the Associated Press. An AP spokesman called it a “technical error” by the news service, and notes the erroneous posting was brief before it was corrected with the right totals.
The most important point is that Rock County’s official tally of votes was not posted incorrectly. “Our reporting on election night was correct. We stand by those results and the canvass proved that we got it right,” County Clerk Lisa Tollefson said.
Yet, in this embarrassing age of social media and its enabling of the wildest rumors -- if not intentional disinformation -- the Rock County vote has been called into question in a viral national posting. That’s what happens when people eagerly swallow unsubstantiated rants because it tells them what they want to hear and reinforces their biases. Truth is not elastic.
People like Tollefson, Beloit City Clerk Lori Stottler and their counterparts and election workers across Rock County did a courageous and accurate job of conducting and accurately counting the vote under adverse conditions. They deserve praise, not this ridiculous whack-a-mole task of smacking down lies.