President Trump on Thursday made new unsubstantiated claims about Dominion Voting Systems, the software that local governments across the country use to run their elections, fueling a conspiracy theory that Dominion software problems in Michigan and Georgia last week changed the number of votes.
Dominion software was only used in two of the five counties that had problems in Michigan and Georgia, and in each case there was a detailed explanation of what had happened. In all cases, software did not affect the number of votes.
In the two Michigan counties that had errors, the inaccuracies were due to human error rather than software problems, according to the Michigan State Department, county officials and election security experts. Only one of the two Michigan counties used Dominion software.
The problems in three Georgia counties had different explanations. In one county, an apparent problem with Dominion software delayed officers' reporting of the number of votes, but did not affect the actual number of votes. In two other countries, a separate company's software slowed poll workers' ability to check-in voters.
"Many of the allegations made about Dominion and questionable voting technology are misinformation at best and, in many cases, outright disinformation," said Edward Perez, electoral technology expert at the OSET Institute, a nonprofit that deals with voting infrastructure. "I am not aware of any particulars or defects in Dominion software that would create the impression that votes were incorrectly recorded or counted."
Internet right-wing voices falsely claimed Dominion was responsible for voting errors this week, and Trump posted a Breitbart article on Twitter incorrectly linking Michigan issues to separate issues in Georgia.
Many of these people have said, contrary to the evidence, that Dominion software was used to change voices. Some people even suggested that the company put in the bid for the Clintons, a conspiracy theory shared by Mr. Trump on Twitter. On Wednesday, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president's attorney, said he was in contact with Dominion "whistleblowers" even though he did not provide any evidence. And on Thursday, Mr. Trump shared new unsubstantiated allegations on Twitter that Dominion "deleted" and "swapped" hundreds of thousands of votes for him.
Dominion, originally a Canadian company headquartered in Denver, makes machines that allow voters to cast ballots and count election workers, and software that government officials use to organize and track election results.
Georgia spent $ 107 million on 30,000 machines for the company last year. In some cases, they proved to be a headache in the June primaries, although officials largely attributed the problems to poor training of election workers.
Dominion did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Antrim County, Michigan, unofficial results initially showed that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. beat Mr. Trump by around 3,000 votes. But that didn't seem right in the Republican stronghold, so pollers checked again.
It found that they had configured the Dominion ballot scanners and reporting software with slightly different versions of the ballot, which meant the votes were counted correctly but they were reported incorrectly, state officials said. The correct numbers showed that Mr. Trump beat Mr. Biden with about 2,500 votes in the county.
Nov. 12, 2020, 11:37 p.m. ET
In Oakland County, Michigan, election officials also discovered a bug after first reporting the unofficial censuses. They discovered that they mistakenly counted votes twice from the city of Rochester Hills, Michigan, according to the Michigan State Department.
The revised numbers showed that an incumbent Republican district commissioner had retained his seat rather than lost it. Oakland County was using software from a company called Hart InterCivic, not Dominion, though it wasn't the software to blame.
Both mistakes, which appeared to go against the Republicans, fueled conspiracy theories in conservative corners of the internet. This came in response from Tina Barton, the Republican clerk in Rochester Hills, the town whose votes were briefly counted twice.
"As a Republican, I am concerned that this is being deliberately misrepresented in order to undermine the electoral process," she said in a video she posted online. "This was an isolated bug that was quickly fixed."
Michigan officials added that the errors were in the counties' unofficial numbers and that they were fixed before another level of scrutiny to identify such errors. In this review, two Republican and two Democratic "recruiters" confirm the number of votes in each county and review election books, ballot summaries, and tabs.
In Gwinnett County, Georgia, the vote count was delayed due to an apparent problem with Dominion software. This is evident from a detailed statement by county officials. The software counted the votes correctly, the county said, but it wouldn't send numbers to the state's central database. Joe Sorenson, a spokesman for Gwinnett County, said the county has since been able to report the exact amounts to the state, but it remains unclear what happened to the software.
Spalding and Morgan counties in Georgia have had separate issues with systems for voter check-in at the polls. These poll pads were made by a company called KnowInk, not Dominion, said Harri Hursti, an electoral security expert in Georgia.
"People compare apples to oranges in the name of Dominion," said Hursti.
Mr Perez, the electoral technology researcher, said it was fair to ask for more transparency and accountability from the companies that make the technology for the elections, but there is no evidence of fraud or widespread errors in the 2020 race.
"It is sensible for citizens and politicians to examine the role of private providers in the democratic machinery and to ask questions," he said. "That doesn't mean elections are rigged."
Nicole Perlroth contributed to the reporting.