A data input error that briefly reflected a surge in votes for Joe Biden in Michigan gave rise to baseless voter fraud claims.
Gateway Pundit, a website that has a history of spreading misinformation according to FactCheck.org, ran the headline “Voter Fraud in Michigan – Massive Dump of Over 200,000 Ballots for Biden All the Sudden Appear Overnight.” The post started gaining traction on social media after a data input error briefly reflected an unusual spike in votes for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Michigan, which led to baseless claims of voter fraud by conservative accounts on social media.
Matt Mackowiack a Texas Republican consultant, posted the screenshots of an election map powered by Decision Desk HQ, an election data and analysis service on Twitter. The map showed votes for Biden climbing steadily while that of Trump remained static and a retweet of Mackowiack's tweet was shared by President Trump also. Twitter labelled the post as disputed or misleading.
Decision Desk HQ clarified in a tweet that the error was clerical. "This morning, there was a clerical error in the Shiawassee, MI county presidential data. Once we identified the error, we cleared the erroneous data and updated it with the correct data as provided by officials," the tweet said.
Abigail Bowen, the elections clerk in Shiawassee County in Michigan told The New York Times that the error happened because an extra zero got typed in. Twenty minutes after Bowen and her team sent the county’s unofficial vote counts to Michigan officials, a state elections official called her to ask if the number was a typo. Bowen said she corrected the figure and the number was updated.
Mackowiak also issued a clarification later. He tweeted: "This tweet was taken and share honestly. I have now learned the MI update referenced was a typo in one county. I have deleted the original tweet.”