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Fact Checking Donald Trump’s Speech From the ‘Save America March’
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Fact Checking Donald Trump’s Speech From the ‘Save America March’

The president repeated a series of false claims that have been debunked previously.

Shortly before a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, President Trump gave a speech in front of a “Save America March” during which he went through a litany of familiar conspiracy theories and false voter-fraud allegations about the presidential election. 

Trump began his speech by claiming that he won the 2020 presidential election, despite the fact that on December 14, the Electoral College confirmed Joe Biden’s victory with 306 electoral votes. Trump, however, claimed: “This was not a close election. I say sometimes jokingly, but there’s no joke about it, I’ve been in two elections. I won them both and the second one, I won much bigger than the first.” Early Thursday morning, Vice President Mike Pence announced Biden’s victory over Trump after Congress completed counting the electoral votes. 

Trump went on to question Biden’s voter total, asking the crowd: “By the way, does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes? Does anybody believe that? He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace. There’s never been anything like that.”  As we explained in a December 2 fact check, an especially high voter turnout (including early voting measures), voter enthusiasm, and population growth explain why Biden got as many votes as he did

Then, once again, Trump claimed that Pence had the power to reject electoral votes: “[A]ll Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the States to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people.” This is a false claim. As explained in a fact check from January 6, Pence does not have the power to reject slates of electors: 

Rebecca Green, law professor and co-director of the election law program at William and Mary said in an email to The Dispatch Fact Check that “the notion that U.S. vice presidents have the unilateral power to overturn the will of voters as expressed through state vote certifications is as wrong logically as it is legally.” Pence himself, as mentioned in the fact check as well, issued a statement saying he would not interfere with the congressional count.

Trump then repeated a falsehood about Pennsylvania ballots, a claim he also brought up on a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, which was fact checked on January 4. The relevant portion of Trump’s statement from yesterday reads as follows: “So in Pennsylvania you had 205,000 more votes than you had voters! And it’s the number is actually much greater than that now. That was as of a week ago. And this is a mathematical impossibility, unless you want to say it’s a total fraud.” Again, this is false, as explained in the January 4 fact check

Trump is likely referring to an ‘extensive analysis of election data’ from state Rep. Frank  Ryan, which alleges a ‘troubling discrepancies between the numbers of total votes counted and total number of voters who voted in the 2020 General Election.’ This ‘analysis,’ however, relied on incomplete data. A statement from the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office, said these allegations are  “false and misleading, and are based on a comparison of very different systems and data points with different timeframes and incomplete information, which anyone with basic understanding of election administration would immediately recognize.’

Trump peddled another  rumor, claiming:  “[M]ore than 10,000 votes in Pennsylvania were illegally counted, even though they were received after Election Day.” Again, this is not true. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling in September to extend the deadline for mail ballots to be returned, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. So, although there were 10,000 votes received after Election Day in Philadelphia, they arrived during the extended timeframe, which was the  Friday after Election Day. However, because of legal challenges to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to extend the deadline to receive mail-in votes, the 10,000 ballots were excluded from Pennsylvania’s certified vote tally.

Later in his speech, Trump made a claim about rejected Georgia ballots, saying “Georgia’s absentee ballot rejection rate was more than 10 times lower than previous levels, because the criteria was so off, 48 counties in Georgia with thousands and thousands of votes rejected zero ballots.” This, too, is false and was explained in a fact check from November 24

According to a press release from the Georgia secretary of state’s office, the rejection rate for absentee ballots in the November 2020 general election over signature issues was .15 percent, on par with the rate for Georgia’s 2018 election. Out of 1,322,529 absentee ballots, there were 2,011 absentee ballots rejected in November 2020 because of signature issues. In the 2020 primary election, 3,266 ballots were rejected among a total of 1,151,371 absentee ballots, a rate of .28 percent.

Next, Trump mentioned the “suitcases of ballots,” in Georgia, a claim he has repeated frequently. Again, as explained in a fact check about Trump’s call with Raffensperger on January 2 as well as a fact check from Alec Dent on December 24, this is a false claim. As Alec reported: ““Georgia’s voting implementation manager, Gabriel Sterling, has said that no poll watchers were forced to leave the room. Surveillance footage shows that a water leak did occur, but Trump appears to be conflating two separate incidents. The leak occurred around 6 a.m. on November 3, while the video Trump describes happened around 10:15 p.m. November 3. Sterling says that the poll watchers and the poll workers left out of confusion over what time they were allowed to stop. The poll workers returned after being informed of their mistake, and the poll watchers returned about 80 minutes later.”  

Trump also cited Dominion Voting Systems as the source for much of this fraud. These various claims have been debunked numerous times by Alec Dent. Trump said: “There is the highly troubling matter of Dominion voting systems. In one Michigan County alone, 6,000 votes were switched from Trump to Biden and the same systems are used in the majority of states in our country.”

While it’s not immediately clear which county Trump is referring to, he may be referencing an error in the unofficial elections results in Antrim County, which was corrected and explained by the Michigan secretary of state’s office: “The Antrim County unofficial reporting error has already been thoroughly explained and did not impact tabulation. It was prompted by the clerk not updating media drives in some of the machines in Antrim County, an accidental human error. Reporting errors are common, and always caught and corrected in the county canvass, if not before, as was the case in Antrim County.”

Dominion Voting Systems also said “there were no software ‘glitches’ that ‘switched’ votes in Antrim County or anywhere else. The errors identified in Antrim County were isolated human errors not involving Dominion.”

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Khaya Himmelman is a fact checker for The Dispatch. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Barnard College.