A widespread headline from a website known for spreading election-related misinformation claims that US Senator Maggie Hassan received more than 1,100 votes from a city of fewer than 700 people, suggesting that her count was down was increased by fraud. This is misleading; The New Hampshire secretary of state’s office said the discrepancy was due to a typo corrected in the city’s reporting of unofficial results and that the incumbent Democratic nominee actually received 106 votes, not 1,106.
“Another miracle of the Democrats! Maggie Hassan wins 1,100 votes from a town of fewer than 700 people,” reads the headline of a November 13, 2022 article by Gateway Pandit, a conservative website, citing a post on a conservative blog site called Granite Grok.
“Being a Democrat has its perks,” states the Gateway Pandit article.
Screenshot of a post by Gateway Pandit on Truth Social, taken on November 18, 2022
The articles and their claims were shared on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms, including by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a US businessman who became a promoter of conspiracy theories about fraud and voting machines after the 2020 US presidential election.
The allegations concern Columbia, a city in northern New Hampshire, which reported a population of 659 as of the 2020 census.
The discrepancy in Hassan’s original vote count from Colombia was the result of a “simple typo” stemming from the city’s reporting of preliminary results, the New Hampshire Secretary of State said in a Nov. 14 press statement shared with AFP.
“Following the night of the general election, the Secretary of State’s office originally reported that US Senate nominee Maggie Hassan received 1,106 votes in the city of Columbia, Coos County, based on information obtained from the official ‘Return of Votes ‘ form have been submitted,” the statement said. “The number reported far exceeded the number of ballots actually cast in the city. The Secretary of State has confirmed with the Columbia City Clerk that Senator Hassan received just 106 votes on election night. The number originally entered was a simple typo. Senator Hassan The adjusted vote count for Coos County is 6,059, while Republican nominee Donald Bolduc received a total of 6,491 votes.
Marcia Parkhurst, Columbia’s city clerk, told the Conway Daily Sun and other local news outlets that what the secretary of state interpreted as an extra “1” on the city’s handwritten election results was actually a stray pen at the end of a long day.
AFP reached out to the city for further comment, but received no response.
Election results, available to download from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website as of Nov. 18, show Hassan had 106 votes to Republican challenger Don Bolduc’s 193 votes. A total of 309 ballots were cast in the city.
Nationwide, the results show Hassan – who the US media was predicting to win on the night of the Nov. 8 election – by about 56,000 votes ahead of Bolduc, who has publicly conceded defeat.
Michael Herron, a government professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and an expert on election administration, said that given the complicated nature of elections and the amount of data associated with voter registration and election results, isolated human error is to be expected.
“Any system will occasionally have bugs, and a bug doesn’t mean fraud or any type of vote-rigging,” Herron said. “Elections involve all sorts of numbers, so I don’t think it should come as a surprise to any of us…if there are occasional mistakes and they’re corrected.”
He added, “There is no evidence that failure favors one party or the other.”
The U.S. Agency for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security said in a Nov. 9 statement it had “seen no evidence of any electoral system having votes erased or lost, votes altered, or compromised in any way in any race in the country.”
AFP has debunked more misinformation about the midterms here.