President Trump and many of his supporters complained over the weekend that "software problems" were undermining the vote in Michigan and Georgia, arguing that the problems were bigger problems in other countries and states that used the same software.
Reviews by the Michigan State Department, county clerks, and election security experts found unofficial vote problems in the Antrim and Oakland counties of Michigan were caused by human error, not software problems. The officials concluded that these were isolated cases that did not signal major problems with the number of votes elsewhere.
In Georgia, software issues only affected how poll workers checked in voters in two counties and delayed reporting results in another. The problems didn't affect the number.
"Anyone who tries to mislead the situation in the two states is spreading misinformation to undermine the integrity of our electoral system," said Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for the Michigan State Department.
In Antrim County, Michigan, a Republican stronghold, unofficial results initially showed that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. beat Mr. Trump by around 3,000 votes – a sharp reversal of Mr. Trump's performance in 2016.
Local officials caught the bug and fixed it. In the revised census, Mr. Trump beat Mr. Biden with approximately 2,500 votes. Election security experts and state officials concluded that an election worker had configured ballot scanners and reporting systems with slightly different versions of the ballot, which meant that some results did not match the correct candidate when officials loaded them into the system.
In Oakland County, Michigan, a local race result was changed after election officials discovered an error in the unofficial censuses. The first tally stated that an incumbent Republican district commissioner had lost his seat, but the revised numbers showed he had kept it. According to the Michigan State Department, the county election officials mistakenly counted votes twice from the city of Rochester Hills, Michigan. The workers later discovered the flaw.
"As a Republican, I am concerned that this is being deliberately misrepresented in order to undermine the electoral process," said Tina Barton, the Rochester Hills clerk, 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 controls designed to catch 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.
Both counties relied on election management software from Dominion Voting Systems. This led to conservative publications like Breitbart and The Federalist incorrectly pointing out that the fault was with Dominion and could mean bigger problems in Michigan and Georgia, where counties that used similar Dominion software had hiccups.
In Georgia, only one in three counties that have had problems, Gwinnett County, has linked the problems with Dominion, said Harri Hursti, a Georgia-based electoral security expert. These issues delayed reporting the number of votes, but did not affect the total. The other two counties, Spalding and Morgan, have had problems with the systems by which voters are checked in to elections. These so-called poll pads were made by a company called KnowInk.
"People compare apples to oranges in the name of Dominion," said Hursti. "This was a bug in the way KnowInk Poll Pads interacted with polling machines, not Dominion."
However, Twitter and Facebook posts by President Trump and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested that the problems in Michigan and Georgia highlighted much bigger problems in the election. Since Friday there have been more than 3,700 Facebook posts mentioning “Wahl,” “Software,” and “Breakdown,” which have been shared more than 250,000 times. Right-wing news sites repeated these complaints.
Two Georgia Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, urged Brad Raffensperger, the state's Republican foreign secretary, to resign on Monday. Mr. Raffensperger later replied: "That won't happen."
The Michigan State Department said the fact that election officials picked up the problems with the censuses shows that the control system is working.
"City and district clerks are committed civil servants who work hard and with integrity," the department said in a statement. "Sometimes they make honest mistakes, and when they do, there are a lot of checks and balances in the electoral system to make sure they can be identified and corrected."
Ben Decker contributed to the research.