President Trump on Thursday spread new baseless claims about Dominion Voting Systems, which makes software that local governments around the nation use to help run their elections, fueling a conspiracy theory that Dominion “software glitches” changed vote tallies in Michigan and Georgia last week.
The Dominion software was used in only two of the five counties that had problems in Michigan and Georgia, and in every instance there was a detailed explanation for what had happened. In all of the cases, software did not affect the vote counts.
In the two Michigan counties that had mistakes, the inaccuracies were because of human errors, not software problems, according to the Michigan Department of State, county officials and election-security experts. Only one of the two Michigan counties used Dominion software.
Issues in three Georgia counties had other explanations. In one county, an apparent problem with Dominion software delayed officials’ reporting of the vote tallies, but did not affect the actual vote count. In two other counties, a separate company’s software slowed poll workers’ ability to check-in voters.
“Many of the claims being asserted about Dominion and questionable voting technology is misinformation at best and, in many cases, they’re outright disinformation,” said Edward Perez, an election-technology expert at the OSET Institute, a nonprofit that studies voting infrastructure. “I’m not aware of any evidence of specific things or defects in Dominion software that would lead one to believe that votes had been recorded or counted incorrectly.”
Right-wing voices across the internet this week have claimed incorrectly that Dominion was responsible for mistakes in vote counts, and Mr. Trump shared a Breitbart article on Twitter that incorrectly tied the Michigan issues to separate problems in Georgia.
Many of those people have said, contrary to evidence, that Dominion software was used to switch votes. Some people even suggested that the company was doing the bidding of the Clintons, a conspiracy theory that was shared on Twitter by Mr. Trump. On Wednesday, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, said he was in contact with “whistle-blowers” from Dominion, though he did not provide evidence. And on Thursday, Mr. Trump shared on Twitter new baseless allegations that Dominion “deleted” and “switched” hundreds of thousands of votes for him.
Dominion, originally a Canadian company that now has its effective headquarters in Denver, makes machines for voters to cast ballots and for poll workers to count them, as well as software that helps government officials organize and keep track of election results.
Georgia spent $107 million on 30,000 of the company’s machines last year. In some cases, they proved to be headaches in the state’s primary elections in June, though officials largely attributed the problems to a lack of training for election workers.
Dominion did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Antrim County, Mich., unofficial results initially showed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. beating Mr. Trump by roughly 3,000 votes. But that didn’t seem right in the Republican stronghold, so election workers checked again.
It turned out that they had configured the Dominion ballot scanners and reporting software with slightly different versions of the ballot, which meant that the votes were counted correctly but that they were reported incorrectly, state officials said. The correct tallies showed Mr. Trump beat Mr. Biden by roughly 2,500 votes in the county.
Nov. 12, 2020, 11:37 p.m. ET
In Oakland County, Mich., election officials also spotted an error after they first reported the unofficial counts. They realized they had mistakenly counted votes from the city of Rochester Hills, Mich., twice, according to the Michigan Department of State.
The revised tallies showed that an incumbent Republican county commissioner had kept his seat, not lost it. Oakland County used software from a company called Hart InterCivic, not Dominion, though the software was not at fault.
Both errors, which appeared to go against Republicans, spurred conspiracy theories in Conservative corners of the internet. That drew a response from Tina Barton, the Republican clerk in Rochester Hills, the city that had its votes briefly counted twice.
“As a Republican, I am disturbed that this is intentionally being mischaracterized to undermine the election process,” she said in a video she posted online. “This was an isolated mistake that was quickly rectified.”
Michigan officials added that the errors came in the counties’ unofficial tallies and that they were fixed before another layer of checks meant to catch such mistakes. In that review, two Republican and two Democratic “canvassers” certify the vote counts in each county, checking poll books, ballot summaries and tabulator tapes.
In Georgia’s Gwinnett County, the vote count was delayed because of an apparent problem with the Dominion software, according to a detailed explanation from county officials. The software properly counted the votes, the county said, but it would not send some tallies to the state’s central database. Joe Sorenson, a Gwinnett County spokesman, said that the county has since been able to report the accurate totals to the state but it remains unclear what happened with the software.
Spalding and Morgan counties in Georgia had separate problems with systems that check in voters at the polls. Those so-called Poll Pads were made by a company called KnowInk, not Dominion, said Harri Hursti, an election security expert on the ground in Georgia.
“People are comparing apples to oranges in the name of Dominion,” Mr. Hursti said.
Mr. Perez, the election-technology researcher, said it was fair to ask for more transparency and accountability from the companies that make the technology that underpins elections, but there is no evidence of any fraud or widespread errors in the 2020 race.
“It’s reasonable for citizens and politicians to look at the role of private vendors in the machinery of democracy, and to ask questions,” he said. “Now that doesn’t mean elections are rigged.”
Nicole Perlroth contributed reporting.