Fact-Checkers Make Quick Work Of Group's Election Fraud Concerns

Nov 13, 2019

A self-described "ragtag" group calling itself the Center for Election Integrity held a hastily-organized press event at the Kentucky Capitol promising evidence of voting irregularities and "electronic vote manipulation requiring immediate investigation" the day before a scheduled recanvass of votes in the commonwealth. But the presenters – "just two moms," as they repeated many times during the gathering – offered just a handful of examples, and only one specific claim of forgery. 

Erika Calihan with a group calling itself the Center for Election Integrity - Kentucky holds up a sign pointing to vote totals seen on CNN on election night on November 13, 2019.
Credit Josh James / WUKY

"Today we are releasing some information that demonstrates serious concerns about the integrity of the recent election, and after speaking with computer experts and others, asking for some very specific action," organizer Erika Calihan told a bank of reporters Wednesday. 

Calihan called on the attorney general and the media to demand computer logs of the election returns, raising concerns about hacking but providing no evidence that a hacking occured. 

The single claim of possible fraud centered on student Jacob Burd, whose mother reported seeing his name signed off in the voting roster despite him being out-of-state on Election Day. The Jefferson County Clerk clarified that there were two different Jacob Burds and the older Burd accidentally voted at the younger Burd's precinct. 

The group also highlighted vote total discrepancies in Anderson and Menifee counties, but the Lexington Herald-Leader reports officials in both counties reported and resolved the issues. In addition, the CEI pointed to fluctuating vote totals seen on CNN that had Bevin lose votes, but did not contact the network to ask how the tallies were entered on election night. 

The press meeting received a boost earlier in the day when Gov. Matt Bevin, who has given fuel to election skeptics with claims of well-"corroborated" voting irregularities, tweeted that "for those interested in the integrity of the election process in Kentucky and in America (which should be ALL of us), this looks like an event worth attending." Although he hinted at a personal appearance, the Republican did not ulimately show, but his promotion of the event led critics to wonder if he's setting the stage for a formal contest of the election results. 

Calihan maintained the effort was not about "flipping an election," but acknowedged her work on behalf of the Republican incumbent. 

The group's claims also run counter to reports of a smoother-than-expected election from county officials. 

"As to the allegations of irregularities, I'm not aware of a single irregularity in this election. All the precincts reported back. We actually finished in record time that night," Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins, Jr. told WUKY Tuesday. 

Sam Newton, a spokesman for the Beshear campaign, said in a statement that Bevin supporters are "grasping at straws" in a "bizarre and baseless attempt" to change the results of the election, which ended with the Democrat more than 5,000 votes ahead. 

A recanvass is slated for Thursday.