Fact-checkers blast Donald Trump 2020 election conspiracy about 120-year-old voters

Fact-checkers blast Donald Trump 2020 election conspiracy about 120-year-old voters
Wisconsin election officials say there’s a simpler explanation for the numbers

He may be out of office, but Donald Trump is keeping fact-checkers busy. And the former president’s latest claim about a 2020 election conspiracy, this time in Wisconsin, has been debunked.

On Thursday, Mr Trump’s team began publicising a story from a right-wing news site, claiming that nearly 120,000 voters in Wisconsin, a state narrowly won by Joe Biden, had been registered as active voters for over 100 years, implying some kind of widespread fraud.

“HUGE: Wisconsin Election Hearing Reveals 119,283 ‘Active Voters’ Who Have Been Registered For Over 100 Years!” read a headline featured in a tweet from his spokesperson Liz Harrington.

As noted by Washington Post reporter Philip Bump, Wisconsin officials have directly explained this seeming anomaly. In the mid-2000s, the state merged its patchwork of local election data systems into a statewide database, and individuals with incomplete records were given placeholder birth and registration dates in 1900 and 1918.

“Individuals and advocacy groups reporting that a 1/1/1900 date of birth or a 1/1/1918 registration date for a voter in WisVote is a sign of fraud, hacking or some other irregularity that impacted an election are unfortunately contributing to misinformation about Wisconsin elections, based on a lack of understanding,” the Wisconsin Elections Commission wrote in an FAQ article about the election on its website. 

The claims appear to come from the testimony of Jeff O’Donnell, a software engineer who testified last week as part of an Arizona-style partisan investigation of the 2020 election results by Wisconsin GOP legislators.

“We have heard that that number is perhaps a placeholder for info that was not available. That is though a very large number… that is definitely an anomaly. It doesn’t look right. And as such, it needs to be explained,” Mr O’Donnell said in his testimony.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Trump for comment.

The effort, overseen by Michael Gableman, a conservative former state Supreme Court justice, has largely been shrouded in secrecy, declining to share details with the public about its staff and methods, even though taxpayers are funding it.

The probe has threatened to jail Satya Rhodes-Conway, the Democratic mayor of Madison, for declining its request to answer questions in private, though she has offered to answer them publicly.

“Even as un-transparent as the Arizona audit was, this is even less transparent,” said David Becker, the executive director of the non-partisan Center for Election Innovation & Research in Washington, DC, told CNN.