There have been many conspiracy theories about the 2020 US election, from lies about vote-by-mail fraud to the discredited idea that millions of non-citizens get to vote. But just two weeks before Election Day, the most common disinformation claim is currently the idea that the vote is “rigged,” researchers say.
The conspiracy theory is so all-encompassing that experts say it’s become uniquely challenging for platforms like Facebook and Twitter to handle.
A big-tent conspiracy
The Election Integrity Partnership, or EIP, is a group of researchers aimed at mitigating the impact of attempted voter misinformation and election delegitimization. In a call with reporters on Tuesday, they pointed out that the most prominent booster of the idea of a “rigged” election is President Donald Trump, who—echoing his rhetoric in 2016—has spent much of the last year warning about a “stolen” election. The narrative has been building to the point where an adherent can now view almost any news through the “rigged” lens.
“The narrative focuses not on a specific falsifiable claim, but on a lot of claims strung together into a conspiracy theory that powerful people in the Democratic Party and the ‘deep state’ were conspiring to kick off a color revolution to steal the election from President Trump,” the EIP’s Renée DiResta says. (A “color revolution” is the name given to some movements to overthrow governments, mainly in former Soviet states like Georgia and Ukraine, in which the repressive regimes claimed that the protest movements had US support.)