Allegations of Voter Fraud and Geo-Tracking Technology
2000 Mules has spurred renewed debate and vitriol into allegations of voter fraud that emerged in the 2020 elections. In the film, data analyst Gregg Phillips presents cell phone geo-tracking data indicating that individuals delivered election ballots to ballot boxes at multiple locations.
The True the Vote organization purchased geo-location signals for the analysis and coined the term “2000 mules.” “Mules” is a pejorative description of individuals who carry illicit substances or items for a cartel. 2000 refers to the number of individuals whose tracking data indicates they deposited election ballots at multiple drop-off sites from October 2020 through January 6, 2021, in the Atlanta, Georgia run-off elections. Video surveillance recordings were used to support assumptions collected from the geo-tracking analysis. In the film, the analysis model is expanded to review key geographical regions during the 2020 presidential elections and extrapolate effects on the election outcome.
To accept the evidence presented one must accept the assumptions of the film’s author and participants. In this thought-provoking exercise, I wondered about the accuracy of geo-location data, and how we can know to which party candidates’ ballots are funneled. What about allegations of fraud that occurred in back rooms with paper ballots at voting places?
It’s great fun to read reports from the different news services about the film and listen to enthusiastic TV pundits (only briefly!), some of whom accept the data and others that completely reject it.
Social Studies 101
This reminds me of a social studies class from my high school days. We frequently discussed current events and debated on how to determine which news reports were unbiased statements of facts, and which reports were editorials disguised as an unbiased presentation of facts.
We were assigned a particular news story and required to collect and review articles that covered it from several sources. From that data, we debated, sometimes heatedly, which reports contained bias and what were the actual facts. It was surprising at the time to discover that major news publications presented completely different views on a subject, whether discussing the latest military excursions in Viet Nam, students taking over Columbia University administration buildings, or the national guard shooting students at Kent State in Ohio. What I learned from this class was to examine news reports from multiple sources, review all available evidence, and determine for myself what are facts or opinions.
This was likely the time I began to understand the concept of “cynicism” and never again accepted reports from TV news channel hosts as gospel. While Walter Cronkite was a well-respected newscaster, should we believe everything he said?
Reports of election rigging have emerged since the early 19th century. You may have grandparents from overseas who in the early 20th century were paid about ten cents per vote to support particular candidates or parties in as many districts they could get to from 7 am until the polls closed. Their poor English and heavy accents reduced any attempts at scrutiny. At each voting district, they used a new name taken from grave markers with names similar to those of their birth regions. You may recall the corruption and exploits of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed.
Is Voter Fraud Possible?
Do people collect and deliver stacks of completed paper ballots from nursing homes?
Should non-citizens be permitted to vote in local elections in some parts of the U.S.?
Are voter databases scrubbed annually to ensure that individuals do not receive multiple blank ballots at their address, a particular problem for apartments where renters change regularly? Are election winners ever called before all districts report and absentee ballots are counted? Shall we continue to mail ballots to every registered voter now that Covid is largely behind us? Should there be a way to mark incoming ballots once they are removed from the verified envelope as evidence should a vote be challenged? Are ballots shredded before deadlines expire for challenging election results? Are individuals from both political parties present at all voting districts to monitor procedures? Should software replace paper voting, similar to the type of security measures used for logging into your social security account?
The film shows intriguing ways to collect and analyze data with modern technologies, including the use of geo-tracking technology and security camera footage analysis.
Not-For-Profits and Electioneering
In the film, reference was made to the “2000 mules” collecting completed ballots from not-for-profit organizations for distribution to multiple ballot boxes. This is important because 501(c)3 organizations are not permitted to engage in political activities.
Here is a quote from the IRS found at this link: “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
In your spare time, you might review online the tax returns for your favorite not-for-profit (501(c)3 organizations) to see if they are involved with political activities. It’s a good exercise to examine where a group receives funding and the percentage of funds that goes toward programming aligned with their IRS-approved philanthropic mission. On the 990 and 990EZ forms, there is a question about political activities that can cause suspension of their not-for-profit status.
Here is a link to the IRS search page for not-for-profit tax returns. You can also view other documentation like IRS determination letters and corporate by-laws. Many people use this data to review the returns for not-for-profit groups before making donations.
If you see the film, do some independent research, and decide the facts for yourself.