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Why Americans Don’t Trust U.S. Elections Anymore

Many people have lost trust in U.S. institutions and the electoral process. We’ve compiled a list of reasons why that is.
Why Americans Don't Trust U.S. Elections Anymore


We’ve compiled a collection of stories that have led to Americans losing trust in their legislative institutions. We’ll continue to update it regularly so be sure to check in from time to time to see what’s new.

This list starts from the most recent — if you want to start from the beginning click here.

Want to know what we think? Read our editorial summary.

Table of Contents

Holes in envelopes.

August 26, 2021

Videos on social media suggest that holes in the return envelopes being used for mail-in ballots in California were designed to allow election officials to peek inside and toss out ballots in favor of recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom. Officials say the holes serve two useful purposes, including helping the vision impaired to sign the ballot envelope in private.

False and misleading statements; distortions of facts; and more lies.

July 20, 2021

After a contractor hired by state Senate Republicans to look into the results of the 2020 Arizona election provided an update on its findings at a legislative hearing on July 15, former President Donald Trump issued a series of false and misleading statements about what it has uncovered.

July 16, 2021

Continuing to claim there is “so much evidence” of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump offered two new distortions of the facts about election results in Georgia, a state where recounts showed he narrowly lost by 12,670 votes.

July 14, 2021

Former President Donald Trump says a former U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania was forbidden by then-Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate voter fraud in the presidential election. Barr says that’s false.

False attributions and secret "watermarks".

May 27, 2021

A viral Facebook post falsely attributes claims of widespread voter fraud and “treasonous acts” during the 2020 election to former Rep. Trey Gowdy. But he told us the statement “wasn’t from me.” We tracked the comments to a retired general who has spread unfounded conspiracy theories.

May 12, 2021

An audit of ballots and a forensic audit of voting equipment earlier this year found no problems in the 2020 elections in Maricopa County, Arizona. But debunked claims about voter fraud revealed by secret “watermarks” are flowing again on social media amid a Republican-led audit. County officials say no watermarks were used on the ballots.

More false and misleading claims.

March 1, 2021

In his first public speech since leaving office, former President Donald Trump delighted his audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference with numerous false and misleading claims, many of them criticisms of his successor. 

Algorithms and Myanmar.

February 11, 2021

One America News Network recently spotlighted one man’s analysis that wrongly suggests precinct-level voting data in Georgia proved a computer algorithm was used to swing the election to President Joe Biden. A hand tally of paper ballots confirmed the election outcome, one of many indications the claim is false.

February 3, 2021

Social media posts falsely claim that the November election in Myanmar was conducted using Dominion Voting Systems, the company that was the focus of bogus theories about the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The company said its systems aren’t used in Myanmar, and there’s no indication that the country uses any voting machines.

Trump's comments and actions.

January 12, 2021

In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, the House Democrats introduced legislation to impeach President Donald Trump, charging him with “inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” Here we review Trump’s comments and actions leading up to the impeachment vote.

13 Million more votes than voters; Dominion machines 'seized' in Georgia; and Trump's 'most important speech ever'

December 21, 2020

President Donald Trump and tens of thousands of others have shared a false claim on social media that there were “13 MILLION” more votes cast in the 2020 election than eligible voters who participated. That falsehood rests on a flawed calculation.

December 8, 2020

Viral posts falsely claim that Dominion voting machines were “seized” in Ware County, Georgia, and that votes were found to have been “switched” for Joe Biden. No such seizure occurred and there was no such finding, according to local and state election officials. Trump handily won the county with 70% of the vote.

December 3, 2020

In what he billed as perhaps “the most important speech I’ve ever made,” President Donald Trump continued his attempt to deceive the American public into believing the election was “rigged.”

More false and misleading claims; Smartmatic switched votes; Mob boss stuffs ballots in Philadelphia; Biden official arrested for ballot-harvesting scheme in Texas; Secret supercomputer switches millions of votes to Biden; Ballot 'curing' in Pennsylvania; Backdating postmarks in Pennsylvania; President-only ballots; 21,000 Dead voters in Pennsylvania; Backdated ballots in Michigan; Voter fraud caught on tape in Pennsylvania; Detroit's voter rolls; Twitter flags Trump; Mail-in ballots were illegitimate; More votes in Wisconsin than registered voters; Sharpie pens in Arizona; Typos in Michigan; Trump claims victory, Calls for halting of counting votes; Pennsylvania poll worker threw out ballots; Voter fraud in Utah; and more nonsense.

November 30, 2020

In his first interview since Election Day, President Donald Trump recapped baseless, false and misleading claims he has made before of a “rigged” election.

November 25, 2020

An unfounded conspiracy theory of widespread election fraud claims that an election technology company called Smartmatic switched votes in the 2020 election. But Smartmatic provided ballot-marking machines to only one U.S. county.

November 20, 2020

A dubious website claims without evidence that Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino stuffed ballot boxes for Joe Biden and the Democrats — and would testify about the scheme in exchange for a presidential pardon. Merlino’s attorney denies the claim, which originated on a website operated by a self-described “pro-Trump” political consultant.

November 17, 2020

A viral tale on social media falsely claims that a campaign official for President-elect Joe Biden was arrested in an illegal ballot-harvesting scheme in Texas. He has not been charged or arrested. The false claim stems from unverified allegations in an unsuccessful lawsuit brought by a group of Republicans.

November 13, 2020

A baseless conspiracy theory claims that a secret supercomputer was used to switch millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Experts — and the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — have said the theory is a hoax and that safeguards, including paper trails, would deter such an effort.

November 13, 2020

Counties in Pennsylvania employed inconsistent policies when it came to “curing” ballots — notifying voters of an error in their mail-in ballot so they could fix it. But contrary to claims by the Trump campaign, that inconsistency didn’t fall strictly along party lines.

November 13, 2020

In a tweet, President Donald Trump on Nov. 12 pushed the baseless theory that voting systems deleted millions of votes for him and switched thousands of votes cast for him to his Democratic rival, President-elect Joe Biden.

November 12, 2020

A postal worker in Erie, Pennsylvania, claimed that his superiors were backdating postmarks on ballots, then told federal investigators that he didn’t actually know that — and then went back to his original position. Despite the flimsiness of the claim, President Donald Trump and his supporters have used it in their effort to blame widespread election fraud for his electoral defeat.

November 12, 2020

Campaign officials for President Donald Trump and supporters have promoted the faulty claim that Joe Biden received nearly 100,000 votes in Georgia through ballots that only included selections for president, suggesting it’s “suspicious.” But the claim ignores that some voters do not vote a straight-party ballot.

November 10, 2020

A misleading claim that more than 21,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania are dead is circulating online. The figure comes from a conservative group that failed to convince a federal judge in October that its list was accurate.

November 9, 2020

Several of President Donald Trump’s supporters have claimed or suggested — without providing evidence — that a substantial number of votes were fraudulently cast by “dead people” in Pennsylvania.

November 6, 2020

A video from a right-wing activist suggests that U.S. Postal Service employees backdated ballots in Michigan. The claim is unproven, but, even if true, no ballots in the state are accepted after Nov. 3, regardless of the postmark.

November 6, 2020

A video from a livestream of the vote-counting process in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, shows election workers transcribing votes from damaged ballots so they could be scanned and recorded, according to the county. Social media users are sharing the video with the false suggestion it shows workers committing voter fraud.

November 6, 2020

In remarks resembling an attack on democratic elections, rather than a presidential speech, President Donald Trump doubled down on his campaign pledge: “The only way we can lose, in my opinion, is massive fraud.”

November 6, 2020

Facebook users are sharing a meme that alleges a host of inaccuracies in Detroit’s voter rolls in the context of the 2020 election. But the claims stem from a 2019 lawsuit that was withdrawn after the group that filed it said the city had taken action on the issues.


November 5, 2020

In the two days after Election Day, Twitter has added warning labels to nine of President Trump’s election-related tweets, cautioning the messages “might be misleading.” They are misleading, and in some cases, false.

November 5, 2020

A bogus QAnon-related claim that many of the mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election were illegitimate has spread widely on social media. But the claim is based on the faulty assumption that ballots are produced by the federal government.

November 4, 2020

Viral posts on Facebook falsely claim there were more votes cast in the 2020 election in Wisconsin than there were registered voters. According to state data, the number of registered voters exceeded the votes cast by nearly 388,000, as of Nov. 1.

November 4, 2020

The falsehood that votes for President Donald Trump weren’t counted in Arizona because the ballots were filled out with Sharpie pens spread widely on the day after the election. But the county where the claim originated actually recommends that voters use fine tip Sharpies to fill out their ballots.

November 4, 2020

A data input error that briefly showed an unusually large uptick in votes for Joe Biden in Michigan prompted suspicions online and an unfounded claim of voter fraud. The error came down to a typo by a county’s reporting that was quickly corrected.


November 4, 2020

Before all of the votes in the 2020 election were counted, President Donald Trump wrongly claimed victory, calling for “all voting to stop” and claiming continuing to count legally cast votes would “disenfranchise” the people who voted for him.

November 3, 2020

A bogus post on Instagram purports to be from an Erie County, Pennsylvania, poll worker who claimed he threw out over 100 pro-Trump ballots. The chair of the Erie County Board of Elections says the man “does not work in any way with Erie County or have any part of Erie County’s election process.”

November 3, 2020

A video suggesting that there’s been “voter fraud” in Utah has been circulating online, but all it actually shows is a misunderstanding of a poll worker’s mistake on the first day of early, in-person voting. The mistake was corrected and the system worked, as intended.

Pre-filled out ballots in New York; Counting mail-in ballots is fraud; Biden admits to voter fraud; and more false and misleading claims.

October 31, 2020

A false claim circulating on social media alleges that mail-in ballots already filled out with votes for Democrats, including Joe Biden, were sent to voters in a New York City borough. A spokesperson for the New York City Board of Elections told us the ballot that triggered the allegation was the result of a voter’s error.

October 29, 2020

In recent days, President Donald Trump has repeatedly and baselessly suggested that counting mail-in ballots after Election Day will result in fraud.

October 29, 2020

Social media posts shared by Eric Trump and Fox News host Jeanine Pirro take a quote by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden out of context to claim he “admits to voter fraud.” Biden was actually describing his efforts to prevent voter fraud and suppression.

October 27, 2020

President Trump repeatedly rattled off false and misleading claims about ballots and voting in arguing to his supporters that “massive fraud” is “the only way we can lose.”

October 16, 2020

In an Oct. 15 town hall on NBC News, President Donald Trump made false and misleading claims on the coronavirus, the economy and more.

A Russian asset; Pennsylvania courts; Fake IDs; Unsolicited ballots; and Bad advice to vote twice.

September 25, 2020

Trump repeatedly sows doubt about mail-in voting, echoing what intelligence officials have said is a Russian strategy to undermine public trust in the election. We review his statements this month and recap our stories on his false, misleading and unsupported claims.

September 22, 2020

At a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that a Pennsylvania court had permitted election officials “to take as long as they want” to count mail-in ballots.

September 11, 2020

A claim being shared on Facebook distorts the facts about fake IDs seized in a Chicago airport this year, baselessly claiming the phony IDs were tied to names “ALL Registered to Vote” as Democrats. Federal authorities announced no connection to a voter fraud scheme, and those making the claim offer no evidence.

September 10, 2020

President Donald Trump repeatedly has falsely claimed that the Democrats are mailing out “80 million unsolicited ballots” for the November election.

September 4, 2020

Elections officials and voting experts say President Donald Trump gave bad advice when he encouraged mail-in voters to show up at polling places on Election Day and cast an in-person ballot if poll workers can’t confirm that their mail-in ballot was received.

Postmarks in Nevada.

August 14, 2020

The Trump campaign claims there’s a potential for “massive fraud” in Nevada because the Postal Service doesn’t postmark the state’s prepaid return ballot envelopes. That’s false. USPS policy is to postmark all ballots.

More false arguments and postponing elections.

July 30, 2020

We briefly recap the false, misleading and unsupported arguments that Trump has made this year about the potential for voter fraud — starting with the case that he made for delaying the 2020 election.

Ballots to non-citizens in California.

May 27, 2020

California will send every registered voter in the state a mail-in ballot for the November general election. But President Donald Trump falsely said, on Twitter and at the White House, that the ballots would go to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there” and “people that aren’t citizens.”

Voter registration rates in Iowa.

February 6, 2020

A report by a conservative legal organization about voter registration rates in eight Iowa counties has been cited to promote baseless suggestions of voter fraud.

California admits voter fraud.

June 25, 2019

President Donald Trump falsely suggested that California admitted that “a million votes” were cast as part of “much illegal voting” in that state during the 2016 presidential election.

Non-citizens voting in Texas.

January 30, 2019

President Trump wrongly claims that “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas.” That’s based on the state’s efforts to match driver’s license and state ID card applications from noncitizens to voter registration rolls. But none of those on the lists have been confirmed as noncitizen voters.

Voter fraud wins Orange County, CA; Florida recounts; and Noncitizens voting in Florida.

November 21, 2018

Q: Was “voter fraud” responsible for Democratic wins in Orange County, California?

A: There have been no credible complaints of voter fraud in Orange County following the midterm elections.

November 16, 2018

CNN’s Jake Tapper examines bogus claims about voter fraud in this week’s fact-checking video in collaboration with

November 14, 2018

Amid a contentious Florida recount, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a six-year-old, and outdated, story to suggest hundreds of thousands of noncitizens could have voted in the state. The story includes an update saying just 85 noncitizens were ultimately removed from the state’s voter rolls in 2012.

November 13, 2018

With votes continuing to be counted in very close elections in Florida, Georgia and Arizona, President Donald Trump and some other Republicans have been crying foul, making false and misleading claims of supposed election fraud perpetrated by Democrats in an attempt to “steal” the elections.

Schumer said what?

October 2, 2018

Q: Did Sen. Chuck Schumer say “it’s racist to only allow citizens to vote”?

A: No. A Facebook meme and viral stories continue to incorrectly quote the Senate Democratic leader.

California registering noncitizens to vote.

September 14, 2018

Q: Is California registering noncitizens to vote?

A: No. A state motor-voter program and a San Francisco school board measure have fueled that false claim.

Obama rigged 2016 election with 4 million illegal votes.

July 25, 2018

Q:  Did Fox News reveal that President Obama rigged the 2016 election with “4 million illegal votes”?

A: No. That falsehood is based on a pre-election interview with an election lawyer who discussed the possibility of votes being cast on behalf of dead people.

California automatically registering illegal immigrants to vote.

March 8, 2018

Q: Is California planning to “automatically register illegal immigrants to vote”?

A: No. The headline making that claim is false and misrepresents the law in California.

Democrats change their tune on election rigging.

February 21, 2018

President Donald Trump made an apples-to-oranges comparison to suggest that his predecessor and Democrats have changed their tune on election rigging.

Proof of widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire.

September 16, 2017

This week’s fact-checking video from CNN’s Jake Tapper and shows why Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach does not have “proof” of widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire.

September 11, 2017

Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, claims to have “proof” of voter fraud in New Hampshire that may have swung a U.S. Senate election in favor of the Democrats. He doesn’t.

More than 25 million Hillary Clinton votes were completely fraudulent.

August 3, 2017

Q: Did NPR report that a study found “over 25 million Hillary Clinton votes were completely fraudulent,” and that she “actually lost the popular vote”?

A: No. That claim was made in a story that conflates a 2012 article about inaccuracies in voter registration rolls with actual fraudulent votes.

Thousands from Massachusetts bused in to vote illegally in New Hampshire.

February 14, 2017

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller doubled down on President Trump’s unsupported claim that thousands of voters were bused in from Massachusetts to vote illegally in New Hampshire.

More false and misleading claims; Massive voter fraud in 2016 election; and Trump won the popular vote if you don't count illegals.

January 26, 2017

In an ABC News interview that aired Jan. 25, President Donald Trump doubled down on false and misleading claims about voter fraud.

January 25, 2017

President Donald Trump continues to claim — without any evidence — there was massive voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump won the popular vote -- if you deduct illegal votes.

November 28, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump baselessly claimed that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Even the author of the study upon which the claim is based doesn’t buy that.

Illegal immigrants can vote if they have a driver's license; and Urban myths.

October 21, 2016

Donald Trump falsely claimed that “John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, was quoted in WikiLeaks as saying, illegal immigrants could vote as long as they have their driver’s license.” Podesta said no such thing.

October 19, 2016

Donald Trump is citing unsubstantiated urban myths and a contested academic study to paint a false narrative about rampant voter fraud in the U.S. and the likelihood of a “rigged” election.

Nobody voted Republican.

August 2, 2016

Donald Trump said he’s worried about a “rigged” general election, citing “precincts where there were practically nobody voting for the Republican” in 2012. Voting experts said such outcomes in certain urban districts were entirely plausible given the demographics.

More votes than voters in Ohio and Florida; and Obama lost every state with photo ID laws.

January 17, 2013

Q: Is it true that there were more votes than voters in Wood County, Ohio, and St. Lucie County, Fla., and that Obama lost every state with photo ID laws?

A: No. A viral email that makes those claims is bogus. It fabricates Ohio and Florida results. Also, Obama won four of the 11 states with photo ID laws.


Polls show that a large minority of Americans believe U.S. elections are corrupt and illegitimate. There’s a good chance you are one of those people. When seeing how many lies have consistently be spread about the election it’s easy to appreciate why this would happen. There’s a famous quote, ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,’ and there’s often truth to be followed in such cases; we should always be curious and willing to change our mind. And, we shouldn’t be gaslighted into ignoring clear warning signs. There is a flip side, however, that is used by bad actors for nefarious reasons. Hitler taught us that a lie, even after disproven, lives on as a kernel of doubt. It’s impossible to know where all these lies derive from — but looking back at them, it’s clear that there is a substantial amount of stories planted in order to sow doubt in American elections, the cornerstone of American democracy. It is through the constant flow of lies, all with the same thesis, that nations can come to believe absolute absurdities which validate horrific atrocities. 

If one is to objectively evaluate all of these theories put forth, attacks on the integrity of American democracy, they will find that over and over again they are misleading in most cases, and outright false or made up in many other cases. If you’re letting yourself, or others, be characterized by or hold false beliefs or judgments about external reality despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary — that’s literally the definition of delusional. It’s typically as a symptom of a mental condition, but sane people can assume a delusional state if they find themselves agreeing with and following someone they have come to trust or be invested in without knowing they are delusional. The most nefarious actors, though, play on this societal vulnerability, and through a steady flow of propaganda through popular people, can control the masses.

Everyone can choose who they want to blame, but, the truth is this: there is no evidence to believe our elections are not secure and valid. Furthermore, the tales of mass voter fraud don’t even make sense — at all — when you actually think about them. Anti-science propagandists spreading lies about Covid-19 often used the trope of asking others if they ‘actually knew anybody that died from Covid’… if you are one of the people that are walking around thinking you can’t trust U.S. elections ask yourself, ‘Do you know of anybody that was part of a conspiracy to commit some mass voter fraud or cast an illegal vote?’ Almost all the stories listed above are absolutely bonkers after giving any reasonable consideration. Which begs the question: why do these lies keep popping up?

I can’t tell you why the lies keep popping up or who is behind them, but I can tell you this: stop listening to whoever keeps telling you the latest lie. Whether it’s your politician, celebrity, media outlet, Facebook message, text message, or meme… recognize the pattern and just quit giving them your trust. The lies don’t even make sense and propagating those lies is nothing more than defamation of the United States institutions; institutions that our veterans and forefathers gave their lives to defend. Everyone is free to think what they want but propagating the idea that U.S. institutions are corrupt when they aren’t isn’t patriotic — at all. Quite the contrary, it’s spitting on the United States of America. 

If you love your Country, act accordingly.

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