Q: Were illegal voters bused in to Alabama to swing the election to Doug Jones? Were thousands of fraudulent votes recorded for him?
A: Those claims were made by self-described “satirical” websites. The Alabama Secretary of State says there’s no evidence that fraudulent voting affected the outcome.
Is it true there was voter fraud in the Jones\Moore campaign? I read that a small town of 1800 people had over 5000 votes for Jones.
In that time, a number of websites have posted made-up stories suggesting that rampant voter fraud contributed to Jones winning by an unofficial margin of 20,715 votes.
But, there is no evidence of wide-spread voter fraud. The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees statewide elections, doesn’t usually comment on reports of voter fraud, but it has not received reports in any numbers that would change the outcome of the election, Communications Director John Bennett told us on Dec. 13. That interview was for an article we wrote about a fake story that said 60,000 votes in Birmingham, Alabama, may be invalid.
Since then, the same network of self-described “satirical” websites that originally published that bogus story has fabricated several more advancing the idea that the outcome of that special election is questionable. A disclaimer on each of the affiliated websites states: “Everything on this site is fiction.”
Facebook users flagged some of the stories after they were published by other websites without a satire label. Our readers have inquired about them, as well.
Claim: Black residents from other states were bused in to vote for Jones.
A story published on the Patriot Post website carried the headline: “BREAKING: Busload Of Blacks From 3 States Drove To Alabama To Vote Illegally.” That didn’t happen. All of the details in the story were fabricated.
For example, the story quotes a fictional official from the “State Election Integrity Board,” which does not exist. Then it says that 27 black people were arrested at “Warsaw Middle School in Selma,” which is not a real school. It also identifies the Selma police chief as “Santiago Swearinger,” when his name is actually Spencer Collier.
In addition, the story also featured the photos of eight young African Americans who were not involved in the Alabama special election. The photos were taken in 2014 after those eight teens were arrested for allegedly throwing rocks and food from their school bus at passing vehicles in South Carolina.
Claim: Thousands of fraudulent votes were recorded in one small Alabama town.
The headline on another fake story from Ladies of Liberty, a related website, reads: “‘Thousands’ Voted For Doug Jones In Alabama Town With Population Of 2,256.”
According to the story, the town of “Bordalama,” which is described as being 20 miles outside of Birmingham, recorded 5,327 votes for Jones, even though it has only 2,256 residents. But there is no such municipality in the state of Alabama, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A link on “Bordalama” in the story takes readers to the website for the cartoon band “Hampton and the Hampsters.”
The bogus story suggests that the votes of dead residents were counted for Jones, and the featured photo shows headstones decorated with “I voted” stickers. That picture, though, has been part of a popular internet meme, titled “Democratic Voter Registration,” that has been in circulation since at least 2012.
The original photo of headstones — without the stickers– appeared online as early as 2007, when it was used to illustrate a Ukrainian website’s story about the psychological effect the fear of death has on people.
Claim: 13 Hispanic men voted multiple times.
This fake story, also posted by Ladies of Liberty, falsely claims that the “Birmingham Press” reported that “polling officials caught what appears to be a ‘van full of illegals’ who traveled to at least 7 polling locations with fake identification to vote for Moore’s opponent Doug Jones.”
That was not reported by the “Birmingham Press,” which is the name of a British website, not an Alabama news publication. A link to the alleged article leads to the same bogus story about unauthorized immigrants voting that was published on fellow “satirical” website, No Fake News Online.
The story says that the vehicle transporting the men was stopped by law enforcement at “Santa Recto Middle School in Wilmington,” as reported by the “Santa Recto Observer.” But neither the school nor the newspaper exist. And “San Salmos” and “Puerta Gorda” — where some of the men were alleged to be from — are not countries.
There is only one person named in the story, “Marcos Ramos.” But that is also the name of a made-up character in another bogus Patriot Post story about illegal voting in Alabama. That story claimed the “32-year-old Marcos Ramos” worked at the Democratic National Committee, according to a non-existent Alabama publication, the “Mobile Press.”
Furthermore, the Patriot Post’s fake story contains a split-screen image of two men, but neither man is “Ramos.” One photo shows a Mexican national who pleaded guilty in 2016 to smuggling methamphetamine into New Mexico. The other photo of an unidentified immigrant being deported to Mexico was used in a 2016 Arizona Republic story about illegal U.S. border crossings.
Update, Dec. 28: Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill reiterated in a Dec. 28 interview that there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election results. He told CNN that his office has received “well more than 100” reports of voter fraud and has “adjudicated more than 60 of those.”
Moore, Roy. “Judge Roy Moore Campaign Statement.” Youtube. 13 Dec 2017.
Alabama Secretary of State. Unofficial election night results. 12 Dec 2017.
Spencer, Saranac. “Fake Report of Voter Fraud in Alabama.” FactCheck.org. 14 Dec 2017.
“BREAKING: Busload Of Blacks From 3 States Drove To Alabama To Vote Illegally.” Patriot Post. 13 Dec 2017.
Weiss, Philip. “CCSO: Surveillance video shows students throwing rocks, food from school bus.” Live 5 News. 15 May 2014.
“UPDATE: ‘Thousands’ Voted For Doug Jones In Alabama Town With Population Of 2,256.” Ladies of Liberty. 13 Dec 2017.
United States Census. Population estimates of Alabama municipalities. Accessed 18 Dec 2017.
Alabama Secretary of State. Boards and commissions. Accessed 18 Dec 2017.
“The psychological effect of the fear of death on man.” Podrobnosti.ua. 12 Nov 2007.
Gonzalez, Daniel. “How many Mexicans actually cross the border illegally?” Arizona Republic. 9 Oct 2016.
Kellogg, Joshua. “Mexican national sentenced in federal meth case.” Farmington Daily-Times. 8 Mar 2017.
“UPDATE: Van Full Of Illegals Caught Voting At Multiple Alabama Polling Locations.” No Fake News Online. 13 Dec 2017.