Where Cyber Ninjas Tried To Prove Donald Trump Won The 2020 Election And immediately faceplanted, a crowdsourced effort named Polaris Recount is moving forward bravely. Unsurprisingly, given the complete and total lack of evidence that such fraud actually took place during the race, history repeats itself.
According to Vice, die-hard Trump supporters are still volunteering to comb through ballots for Polaris, continuing their never-ending quest to demonstrate that things as sinister as smudges on ballots or botched scanning are proof of widespread Democratic voter fraud. With Polaris, amateur voter fraud sleuths can volunteer to comb through scanned images of ballots for signs of election irregularities. The system comes with leaderboards showing how many ballots each “citizen referee” has reviewed.
Jeff O’Donnell, a Florida businessman who started Polaris in November 2021, told Vice the system has 1,000 volunteers so far, with the all-time leader having logged more than 3,400 ballots. vote: “People who start doing it become enraged. , they become addicted. He added that Polaris is now a full-time project for him. While O’Donnell claims to be non-partisan and his platform is open to everyone, an earlier version of the prompt displayed to newly registered Polaris users asked them to certify that they believed there was a ” high likelihood” of fraud in the general 2020 election. He then asked them to agree “that many races, including the presidential race, are likely to have been wrongly certified.”
O’Donnell appeared on a direct with the founder of MyPillow Mike Lindel to promote pro-Trump voter fraud hoaxes. According to Vice, another person involved in Project Polaris is Draza Smith, a self-proclaimed fraud expert who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as anti-Semitic rants about the wealthy Rothschild family. on Instagram.
In this direction, they follow the spirit of the Cyber Ninjas, the now defunct political enterprise with a conspiratorial leaning that has become a laughing stock of a Republican-led “audit” of Joe Biden’s victory in Maricopa County, Arizona. (On the one hand, the two efforts involved QAnon Fans.) But because they don’t have physical access to the ballots in question, Polaris users can’t reply classic Cyber Ninja techniques like using microscopes to look for traces of infamous Chinese bamboos or exposing them to UV light to look for imaginary watermarks. So they seem to be grabbing straws even finer than their ancestors.
For example, Vice reported that O’Donnell said dead bodies could have voted in Wisconsin last year, telling state lawmakers, “What caught the eye is that he there are nine [voters] registered for more than 120 years and 119,283 registered between 110 and 119 years. While the claim was touted by Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington, according to the washington post, the truth is much more banal. Wisconsin officials have previously explained that when they created a statewide voter registration system, about 120,000 statewide records did not contain dates of birth or registration. So, by default, these records were assigned birth dates of January 1, 1900 and a voter registration date of January 1, 1918. Only 3,700 of these default records were still active.
The ballots that appear in Polaris, O’Donnell told Vice, are sent by like-minded people. According to a guide published on Polaris website, when submitting a batch of ballot images, an administrator is responsible for “managing all aspects of the digital recount”. At least two Polaris users review each ballot and deem it legitimate or irregular, with a third reviewer serving as a tiebreaker if they disagree. It’s unclear how O’Donnell verifies that these batches of ballots are real and unaltered, though the guide mentions the Freedom of Information Act and public records requests in states that allow members of the public to request images of ballot papers. The guide goes on to advise contacting the “County Sherriff” [sic] if officials are not cooperative.
“When the Polaris system becomes widely available, interested citizens will be able to indicate their willingness to help your county through an onsite messaging capability,” the guide says. “You will hopefully get many volunteers this way.”
While the Polaris Recount website claims that the counties themselves seek auditors and characterizes its registration system as a notification to county administrators, we registered an account and immediately received a confirmation email from an account identifying itself as “Lone Raccoon”. The training video for new users is just three minutes and thirty seconds long, instructing amateur umpires to alert Polaris of such irregularities when voters choose multiple candidates, ink smudges, tears, crease lines, or slight slants in the scan. The video commends the volunteers for “their dedication not only to fixing the 2020 elections, but also to ensuring fair elections in the future”, and ends with displaying a graph of a raccoon with the caption “I am the only apocalypse raccoon here to consume deep state waste”.
David Stafford, a Republican election official from Escambia County, Florida, told Vice that at best Polaris replicates the type of third-party software widely used to independently verify scanned ballots. In Florida, Stafford said, the final comparison is made at a “publicly open canvassing board meeting” that is also “governed by Florida statutes and administrative rules.” Obviously, it works best when random followers do the work. Or not: O’Donnell told Vice that “four or five” Polaris volunteers have already been banned, in at least two cases for deliberately submitting false ballot reviews.
O’Donnell said that Polaris volunteers have completed the review of the 2020 vote in Harding County, New Mexico. In one report on the Polaris website, Polaris claims to have found that six out of 504 ballots were mistakenly counted for Trump or Biden (three each). The report boldly asserted confidence that this could mean that “hundreds, if not thousands, of tampered votes could exist in larger counties”, or that voter fraudsters could have counted “totally blank ballots”.
“They seriously simplify the counting, recounting and auditing of ballots, and ignore any nuance of the process,” election consultant Michelle Shafer, who previously worked as a spokeswoman for the company, told Vice. of Hart Intercivic voting machines. “I don’t see where they could have real legitimacy; it’s just more noise. States and local jurisdictions have laws and procedures that apply to recounts and audits and how they are conducted.
“…These people who don’t seem to have any experience in election administration are seriously simplifying this huge effort,” Shafer added.
Polaris obviously won’t change who the president is, but his very existence highlights the continued revanchism of hardline Republicans who view any uncast vote for Trump as inherently suspect. More troubling are efforts by the far-right GOP to place allies in key election monitoring roles across the county, ranging from volunteer poll watchdog roles, canvassing commissions, and paid from district judges to elected county clerks and attorneys general. Trump’s voter fraud allegations didn’t pan out largely because state and local election officials resisted the pressure to intervene in his name. It seems enormously that his supporters hope that by returning those roles to Trump loyalists, future judge equivalents Cyber Ninjas and Polaris will be able to cast doubt on ballots before they are certified.
Gizmodo contacted Polaris via the support email listed on its website for comment. We have not received a response, we will update this post when we hear back.