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Conspiracy Theories Continue To Swirl Around Dominion Voting Systems Machines In Maricopa County, Elsewhere

Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 12:37pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 1:18pm
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MARK BRODIE: Republican officials in Arizona's counties have sent a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey. They want him to call the Legislature into special session in order to authorize a one-time law requiring an examination of software used in Dominion Voting Systems machines. The officials, though, only want that to apply to the machines used in Maricopa County. Pinal County GOP Chair Michael Burke told Capitol Media Services he and his counterparts just want someone to look to make sure everything was on the up and up.

MICHAEL BURKE: We're hearing stories about this Dominion software changing votes and doing all kinds of unfortunate things. I don't know if that's true or not, but let's find out.

BRODIE: Some of those stories involve conspiracy theories about officials at Dominion rigging the software to make sure Joe Biden won the election. Dominion has debunked these notions. And Nov. 17, the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to voters that said the Dominion machines accurately counted votes and that: "It is time to dial back the rhetoric, rumors and false claims." Jeremy Duda of Arizona Mirror has been following the rumors about this company's machines, which Maricopa County has been using for around a decade. He joins me to talk more about it. And Jeremy, what exactly is the controversy in Maricopa County over these Dominion voting machines?

JEREMY DUDA: Well, the controversy, I mean, if you ask the people who are very critical, is basically that we used Dominion Voting Systems. There have been a lot of allegations have been flying around really all over the country about Dominion Voting Systems. And, and that has kind of extended here to Arizona because Maricopa County uses them. Now, we've not heard any specific allegations, but there are people who believe — without a shred of evidence, it should be added — that Dominion Voting Systems, that these machines changed Trump votes to Biden votes. That they flipped states for Biden. People made a lot of the fact that these machines are used in a lot of counties in Georgia, in Michigan, in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, in Maricopa County, Arizona, states — swing states that Joe Biden won from President [Donald] Trump, mostly all states that, you know, Trump won four years ago and that Biden won now. Of course, what's not really mentioned is that those machines are also in use in some swing states that Trump won — Florida and Ohio, namely.

BRODIE: So are people saying that because these are states or counties that flipped from Trump four years ago to Biden this year, that it must be the voting machines that made that happen, not the actual votes?

DUDA: That is what a lot of folks are saying, that the machines are allegedly unreliable. They've allegedly, they're flipping votes. And there's really no basis to this outside of, I think people just looked — a lot of people just looked at states that switched from, you know, Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020 and said, "Oh, there must be something fishy going on. It must be these machines." And people very quickly fixated on Dominion, which is the second-largest provider of election machinery in the United States.

BRODIE: Has there been anything that is even remotely close to suggesting that there is any semblance of a problem here?

DUDA: In one county in Michigan on election night, a machine, apparently there was a glitch — as a lot of people refer to it — where a few thousand Trump votes were put down as Biden votes. And that was very quickly noticed and very quickly rectified thanks to the paper trail from the ballots. And apparently what had happened is that you have two machines that are communicating with each other and one had received a software upgrade, but the other mistakenly hadn't. And so that flipped a few thousand votes from Trump to Biden and they were very quickly switched back because of the error was noticed. But that sort of gave rise, I think, to a lot of the very groundless allegations that we're hearing now.

BRODIE: So there's obviously a lot of discussion leading up to the election about the security of voting machines and whether they could be susceptible to hacking by foreign governments or even domestic entities. Is there any evidence that that might have happened? And is that something that the folks who are saying there's a problem say could have been a problem?

DUDA: There's no evidence at all that something like that has happened. And from what I can tell, the conspiracy theories aren't about people hacking into the machine, just more alleging that Dominion itself is kind of in on the fix. Why a company that relies on government contracts would decide to cheat people out of their, out of these elections in the United States is beyond me. But the allegations seem to revolve around Dominion itself and allegations that the company itself isn't trustworthy and has kind of rigged the election in Joe Biden's favor.

BRODIE: So you've had a chance to talk to some election experts, election security experts, related to some of these conspiracies. What are they telling you about what they've seen with Dominion machines?

DUDA: What they've said more in general is that there are concerns about, you know, voting machines, electronic ballot counting machines in general. There always have been some concerns that they could be vulnerable to, to hacking, to outside interference. Mostly, you know, those concerns mostly revolve around, you know, foreign entities. But those are kind of, those are more the concerns that these election integrity experts and people who really follow this field — that's what they're really concerned about, not about the people who run a company fixing an election.

BRODIE: And it sounds like, based on your reporting, that they told you that they really don't have any concerns. They do not share the concerns, at least, that folks who are claiming that these machines were switching votes from Trump to Biden were actually doing that.

DUDA: No, no, none at all. I mean, despite — in fact, they, they are very open about having, you know, other concerns, as I mentioned, about hacking and foreign interference. The actual allegations we're hearing that these machines and software were designed to steal the election from Donald Trump and give it to Joe Biden — they haven't, they don't have the slightest concerns with that because there's simply not a shred of evidence to back it up. And it's such a fantastical theory that has no basis in reality that there's really no reason to have any such concern. I mean, for all the conspiracy theories that are going on — around about Dominion, once you start looking into them, none of them really stand up under more than a few seconds of scrutiny.

BRODIE: Based on your reporting and the people with whom you've spoken, is there a concern that conspiracy theories like this undermine confidence in elections? Could this have long, longer term effects than just this particular election?

DUDA: I don't see how it couldn't. I mean, you've seen all these protests out at the state Capitol or at the county elections office. And we've seen similar things, you know, in other states — especially the contested swing states that Joe Biden won. And these people really do believe, a lot of these folks who are protesting that, A, the election was stolen from Donald Trump — that Joe Biden won through election fraud. And you hear a very pervasive belief that this is going to be fixed. This problem will be rectified before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. And obviously, this is — the results of this election are not going to change. Joe Biden has won, he's the President-elect. That's not going to change. So you have to wonder how, you know, once that happens, once the Electoral College does certify him as the winner, once he is sworn in, I can't imagine these folks are going to look at this election and say this was a legitimate exercise in democracy. I think a lot of them are going to look, look at it and maintain their belief that this was rigged, that this was stolen. And I can't imagine that it will do anything good for their confidence in elections moving forward.

BRODIE: All right. That is Jeremy Duda with the Arizona Mirror. Jeremy, as always, good to talk to you. Thank you.

DUDA: Thanks for having me.

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