Claims of election fraud fail as online disinformation campaigns fail

Unfounded claims of electoral fraud circulating online are based on misunderstandings about the electoral process, as fringe and conspiratorial groups seek a reason not to believe their grim electoral result.

nach little demonstration by parties aligned with the freedom movement, participants in online groups dedicated to spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories wondered if the election result could be real. The posts circulated in Facebook groups and Telegram chats urging people to use the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) fraud complaint process if they had evidence. For the most part, allegations of election fraud have failed to burst the bubble of existing online conspiracy communities.

A significant false claim concerned candidates who were not listed as independent on the ballot papers. Characters such as former National Liberal Party and One Nation politician Steve Dickson, and anti-vaccine and freedom movement figures Morgan C Jonas, Monica Smit and Rebecca Lloyd, were ineligible for the title of “independents” because they showed up. as unapproved group candidates. Shocked by this, these figures have since spread misinformation that it is an election fraud and, in Dickson’s case, are trying to launch a (potentially crowdfunded) legal challenge.

Another widely held theory took the official vote-counting process as evidence that the votes of smaller parties were underreported. The AEC procedure consists in counting the first preferences and the preferred bipartites in order to be able to give a first indication of who wins a seat. Viral posts claiming to have been written by tellers misinterpreted this as ignorance of minor party votes: “A statement came from the AEC and advised the supervisor to take preferences from ON, UAP, Labor and Greens and assign those preferences, “said one post.

Fresh off a disappointing return on investment for his nearly $ 100 million election spend, Clive Palmer also peddled a specific and absurd claim that AEC staff had interfered with the vote. On Sky News election night, the billionaire claimed that one of his candidates followed AEC staff home and filmed him carrying the votes home. Palmer did not respond to a request for comment or to provide this video.

The AEC disputed this claim: “We track and account for every ballot in elections with a documented chain of custody and strict methods of storing and transporting ballots,” said one. tweet from their official account.

For the most part, these claims barely caused a sensation. Posts mentioning “election fraud” or rigged elections have received fewer than 10,000 Facebook engagements in the past three days according to CrowdTangle, a negligible number. The figures of the movement did not comment (Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts) or even approved the legitimacy of the trial (Topher Field).

Ironically, the attempts by the freedom movement to teach its constituents the details of the electoral process in an effort to maximize their electoral impact may have ended up teaching some of them to understand and trust the process.

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