A congressman and conservative news outlets are spreading the baseless claim that the U.S. Army seized an election software company’s server in Frankfurt, Germany, that could supposedly prove there was fraud in the 2020 election. There was no such seizure — and the company doesn’t even have a server in Frankfurt.
Bogus claims about voter fraud in the U.S. election have gone international.
A falsehood that the U.S. Army seized a computer server in Frankfurt, Germany, has been circulating on social media. This server could supposedly prove that votes for President Donald Trump were switched in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.
But the Army has conducted no such raid, and the company supposedly involved doesn’t have offices in Frankfurt and wouldn’t have had that kind of information.
Still, the falsehood has been spread by Rep. Louie Gohmert, of Texas, and the two conservative TV news outlets recently promoted by President Donald Trump — Newsmax and One America News.
Gohmert first made the claim during a video call broadcast on Facebook on Nov. 12 entitled “Global Prayer For US Election Integrity.” The host of the call, conservative evangelical leader Jim Garlow, began by referencing at least two other election-related conspiracy theories. One is based on the idea that there is a secret supercomputer called “Hammer” that switched votes away from Trump. That’s total bunk, as we reported. The other theory claims the voting machine manufacturer Dominion was involved in switching votes. That’s not true either, although Trump has given the claim widespread attention by tweeting about it. We wrote about that, too.
Gohmert’s claim appears to be related to both of those debunked theories.
“I had information from some of our former intel people that there was extremely compelling evidence that could be gleaned from Scytl,” Gohmert said on the call, referring to the election software company. He claimed Scytl had offices in Frankfurt and “was responsible for aggregating all the information from all the [voting] machines and whatnot… that information as to how many votes were switched from Republican for Democrat would have been easily established from the information that Scytl gathered.”
But that’s not what Scytl does in the U.S. We’ll explain more on that later.
Gohmert went on to say, “It turns out, I don’t know the truth, I know that there was a German tweet in German saying that on Monday, U.S. Army forces went into Scytl and grabbed their server. There are some that believe this is the U.S. intelligence that manipulated all this in order to cover their own rear ends.”
There is no evidence to support that claim. The Army has said that it conducted no such raid, and Gohmert’s office didn’t respond to a request for more information. It’s worth noting that Gohmert didn’t include that claim in a letter he signed on Nov. 13 with eight other congressmen asking the attorney general to investigate Scytl.
Despite a lack of evidence, the suggestion that there was a raid and a seized server has appeared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Some of those posts also feature an electoral map shown on OAN that supposedly reflects the results on the seized server. OAN attributed the map to Manga Anantatmula, a defeated Republican congressional candidate in Virginia who didn’t respond to our request for comment. The map shows Trump winning 410 electoral votes, including California’s 55 electoral votes. Biden had a 29% lead over Trump in California as of Nov. 19, according to the secretary of state’s unofficial count.
Also, Scytl doesn’t have offices in Frankfurt. The company, which is based in Spain, has a U.S. subsidiary that handled all of its U.S. election work in 2020, according to a fact sheet it posted in response to the viral claims.
“We do not tabulate, tally or count votes in the US. We do not provide voting machines in the US. We did not provide online voting to US jurisdictions for the US elections. We do not have servers or offices in Frankfurt. The US army has not seized anything from Scytl in Barcelona, Frankfurt or anywhere else,” the fact sheet said.
The company also described the kind of work that it did conduct in the 2020 election. That work fell into four categories: visual displays of independently counted votes on election night, called election night reporting systems; electronic ballot delivery systems for overseas military voters; online training for election workers; and websites with information for voters on where and how they could vote and what kind of identification they may need to bring to the polls.
The first two categories may be the source of some of the false claims about Scytl’s role in the election.
The company explained that its election night reporting systems are online displays for vote tallies that have been counted by local election officials. The vote counting is done on equipment that’s unrelated to Scytl. Once election officials tabulate the votes, they upload the results to Scytl’s system, which then displays them online. The servers that run it are based in the U.S. “Scytl does NOT tabulate, tally or count any votes,” the company wrote.
Similarly, the electronic ballot delivery system offered by the company is an online platform tailored to the state that uses it. “Each state has different laws and regulations regarding who can request their ballot through this system, and how that ballot can be returned,” the company explained. The system does not allow online voting and it does not count votes. The servers that run it are in the U.S.
According to another release from the company, 95 of the 3,142 counties in the U.S. used its election night reporting system to display the results in their counties online and seven states used it to provide statewide results. Three states used Scytl’s electronic ballot delivery system in the 2020 election.
Scytl is also among the 25 original members of the Election Infrastructure Subsector Coordinating Council, which works with federal and state agencies to keep elections secure.
So, there’s no evidence that the U.S. Army seized a server from Scytl that would prove election fraud. In fact, both the Army and Scytl have said that’s not true.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.
This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.
Schindler, Adam. “Global Prayer For US Election Integrity | 5.” Facebook. 12 Nov 2020.
Fichera, Angelo and Saranac Hale Spencer. “Bogus Theory Claims Supercomputer Switched Votes in Election.” FactCheck.org. 13 Nov 2020.
Rieder, Rem. “Trump Tweets Conspiracy Theory About Deleted Votes.” FactCheck.org. 13 Nov 2020.
Joffe-Block, Jude. “False reports claim election servers were seized in Germany.” Associated Press. 15 Nov 2020.
Gohmert, Louie, et al. Letter to Attorney General William Barr. 13 Nov 2020.
“Fact Checking Regarding US Elections: Debunking Fake News.” Scytl. 13 Nov 2020.
“78 million registered voters across the U.S. benefit from Scytl secure election technology during the 2020 General Election.” Scytl. 10 Nov 2020.
“Election Infrastructure Subsector Coordinating Council Charter.” Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.15 Feb 2018.
“The Election Infrastructure Subsector: Development and Challenges.” Congressional Research Service. 5 Mar 2020.