Inside Election Conspiracy Groups on Super Tuesday

Inside Election Conspiracy Groups on Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday was a blowout for former president Donald Trump, who won 14 out of 15 states. And yet, Trump’s most ardent supporters who believe that all votes and elections are now irredeemably fraudulent spent the day boosting wild conspiracies online, predicting what would happen in November, and guessing how their perceived enemies will conspire to defeat Trump.

Voting rights groups reported very few issues impacting Super Tuesday voters, but that didn’t stop members of election-denial groups. Instead, they grasped onto anything they could find that seemingly indicated a grand election conspiracy. Accusations of fraud trickled in slowly on Tuesday before exploding around 10:30 am when users of Facebook, Instagram, and Threads all found out that the platforms were offline.

Rather than wait to find out the real reasons—which turned out to be a technical issue that Meta fixed within 90 minutes—members of election-denial groups and conspiracy channels on Telegram quickly claimed foul.

“Today is Super Tuesday and almost every single major tech platform is down,” one election denial influencer wrote on Telegram. “That is not a coincidence … The very definition of a ‘Dry-Run’ is a rehearsal of a performance or procedure before the real one.” They then claimed that the fact X, Telegram, and Truth Social remained online was “evidence” that these platforms “may very well be the only ones available on Election Day.”

The belief that the Meta outage was planned was shared widely on multiple platforms, including X and pro-Trump message boards like The Donald. “Practice run for November?” wrote Rogan O’Handley, a major far-right influencer with 1.4 million followers, in a post on X that has been viewed more than 3 million times.

“They are practicing shutting down communication, so you don’t report election fraud,” a user of The Donald wrote in a thread.

Other influencers spent the day harkening back to 2020 election-fraud claims. In the Telegram channel run by David Clements, one of the most influential election-denial figures to emerge since 2020, the day began with the public release of a film he made about the 2020 presidential election being stolen.

As the day progressed, Clements shared Super Tuesday conspiracies, including an unsubstantiated claim that voters received an error message when they tried to vote in Dallas.

The claim was based on a picture first posted by a writer for the conspiracy website Gateway Pundit. However, election integrity group Common Cause pointed out in a post on X that the picture wasn’t actually showing a voting machine but rather what’s called an “emergency drawer.”

“It is a locked, secure ballot receptacle to store and scan ballots ensuring they’re included in the polling place’s count at the end of the day,” the group explained.

But on Telegram, such explanations were not seen or were otherwise ignored. “Keep watching & pointing out their corruption everyone,” one Clements supporter wrote.

Later in the day, news broke that Taylor Swift had urged her 282 million Instagram followers to “vote the people who most represent YOU into power.” This, unsurprisingly, was mocked by the election-denial groups, as the pop star was once again accused of being part of a psyop.

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