Efforts to Undermine the 2020 Election Results

President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the results of the 2020 election and concede to President-elect Biden has fanned the flames of dangerous conspiracy theories and social unrest. American Oversight seeks to shed light on ways federal and state officials are abetting his efforts by promoting baseless claims of voter fraud to undermine the election’s legitimacy — and the next administration.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump continues to make baseless claims of voter fraud in an apparent attempt to undermine the results and the will of the American people. American Oversight is investigating actions by local and federal officials that may promote these unfounded allegations and in the process impede democracy.

Major news outlets projected Biden as the winner less than a week after the election. However, Trump has refused to concede, and his campaign has pursued a series of legal challenges without any evidence of widespread fraud.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) posted a
statement from election officials and private-sector partners on Nov. 12 announcing that the 2020 election “was the most secure in American history” and that there “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” On Nov. 17, CISA chief Chris Krebs shared a link on his official Twitter account to a separate letter from dozens of outside election security experts denouncing false claims of fraud. Trump fired Krebs in a tweet that evening, prompting Krebs’ deputy, Matthew Travis, to resign.

But the voter-fraud fear-mongering hasn’t just been coming from the White House. Just a few days after Biden was projected as the winner, Attorney General William Barr issued a memo that authorized federal prosecutors to pursue any “substantial allegations” of election irregularities — in apparent support of Trump’s unfounded claims. The directive, a departure from longstanding Justice Department policy prohibiting such overt investigations before official election results are certified, drew fierce criticism from career prosecutors

Barr’s promotion of false claims about the dangers of voting by mail in the month before the election also drew scrutiny. We submitted Freedom of Information Act requests seeking directives about election fraud investigation sent to U.S. attorneys in the run-up to and the immediate days after the election. We’re also seeking Justice Department officials’ communications with external entities about such investigations, including with conservative legal activist Leonard Leo.

American Oversight is also keeping an eye on state-level election interference. We submitted requests to the offices of select state legislators in Wisconsin and Arizona who have called for investigations — also without evidence of serious irregularities — into their states’ election results. We’re seeking those legislators’ communications with Trump’s reelection campaign and legal team, the White House, Senate Republicans, and voting-restriction groups such as the Public Interest Legal Foundation. We’ve also filed a records request with Georgia’s secretary of state for post-election communications between state officials and voting-restriction activists.

American Oversight has long been looking into potential attempts to undermine election confidence through our State Accountability Project, investigating the efforts of anti-voter organizations and state fraud “task forces” that do more to promote false narratives about fraud than they do to promote democratic participation. Our legal efforts on this front compelled Georgia to release thousands of pages of related records, and other litigation is ongoing.

Efforts to cast doubt on the election results not only defy democratic norms that are the bedrock of our system; they threaten its continued operation by delaying a lawful transition of power. We will continue to hold public officials accountable and demand transparency during this unprecedented period of electoral obstructionism. 

Related Documents

November 23, 2020

FOIA to OMB Seeking Records Related to Leave Taken by Camilo Sandoval to Aid Voter-Fraud Discovery Efforts

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
November 23, 2020

FOIA to DOI Seeking Records Related to Leave Taken by Thomas Baptiste to Aid Voter-Fraud Discovery Efforts

Department of the Interior
FOIA Request
November 23, 2020

Records Request to Georgia Department of Law for Communications with Georgia GOP, White House, Trump Campaign, and RNC

Georgia Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 23, 2020

Records Request to Nevada Secretary of State for Communications with Georgia GOP, White House, Trump Campaign, and RNC

Nevada Secretary of State
FOIA Request
November 23, 2020

Records Request to Georgia Secretary of State for Gabriel Sterling’s Gmail Messages

Georgia Secretary of State
FOIA Request
November 23, 2020

Records Request to Georgia Secretary of State for Guidelines Regarding Hand Recount Decision

Georgia Secretary of State
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Wayne County, Mich., Seeking Text Messages Between Board of Canvassers and External Entities

Michigan - Wayne County
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Texas Attorney General Seeking Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists or the Trump Campaign

Texas Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to South Dakota Attorney General Seeking Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists or the Trump Campaign

South Dakota Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to South Carolina Attorney General Seeking Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists or the Trump Campaign

South Carolina Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Ohio Attorney General Seeking Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists or the Trump Campaign

Ohio Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Missouri Attorney General Seeking Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists or the Trump Campaign

Missouri Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Louisiana Attorney General Seeking Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists or the Trump Campaign

Louisiana Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Kentucky Attorney General Seeking Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists or the Trump Campaign

Kentucky Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Georgia Attorney General Seeking AG Carr’s Texts with Other State Attorneys General and Pennsylvania GOP

Georgia Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Florida Attorney General Seeking Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists or the Trump Campaign

Florida Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Wayne County, Mich., Seeking Communications Between Board of Canvassers and External Entities

Michigan - Wayne County
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Wayne County, Mich., Seeking Records Reflecting Communications with President Trump

Michigan - Wayne County
FOIA Request
November 19, 2020

Records Request to Georgia Secretary of State Seeking Communications with Republican National Committee, the Trump Campaign, and Affiliates

Georgia Secretary of State
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DHS Seeking Sent Communications Containing Key Terms Related to Immigration Press Conferences

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

Records Request to Coconino County, Ariz., Sheriff Seeking Communications About Chad Wolf Roundtable

Arizona - Coconino County
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

Records Request to Coconino County, Ariz., Sheriff Seeking Contents of Chad Wolf Roundtable

Arizona - Coconino County
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

Request to Georgia Secretary of State Seeking Directives Concerning Investigations into Potential Cases of Election Fraud or Enforcement of Election-Related Laws

Georgia Secretary of State
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

Request to Georgia Attorney General Seeking Directives Concerning Investigations into Potential Cases of Election Fraud or Enforcement of Election-Related Laws

Georgia Attorney General
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

Request to Gerogia Bureau of Investigation Seeking Directives Concerning Investigations into Potential Cases of Election Fraud or Enforcement of Election-Related Laws

Georgia Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Election Fraud Communications

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Civil Rights Division Seeking Election Fraud Communications

Department of Justice, DOJ - Civil Rights Division
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Criminal Division Seeking Election Fraud Communications

Department of Justice, DOJ - Criminal Division
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Directives Concerning Election Fraud

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with Sen. Lindsey Graham

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Civil Rights Division Seeking Communications with Sen. Lindsey Graham

Department of Justice, DOJ - Civil Rights Division
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Criminal Division Seeking Communications with Sen. Lindsey Graham

Department of Justice, DOJ - Criminal Division
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Texts with Sen. Lindsey Graham

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Civil Rights Seeking Texts with Sen. Lindsey Graham

Department of Justice, DOJ - Civil Rights Division
FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Criminal Division Seeking Texts with Sen. Lindsey Graham

Department of Justice, DOJ - Criminal Division
FOIA Request
November 13, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Election Fraud Investigation Directives

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 13, 2020

FOIA to EOUSA Seeking Election Fraud Investigation Directives

Department of Justice, DOJ - Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys
FOIA Request
November 13, 2020

Records Request to Georgia Governor’s Office for Communications with White House or Trump Campaign

Georgia Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
November 13, 2020

Records Request to the Office of Arizona Rep. Townsend Seeking Text Messages Concerning “Sharpiegate” Conspiracy

Arizona House of Representatives
FOIA Request
November 12, 2020

Records Request to Georgia Secretary of State for Post-Election Communications with Voting-Restriction Groups

Georgia Secretary of State
FOIA Request
November 12, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Office of Attorney General’s Communications with External Entities

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 12, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Office of Public Affairs Seeking Communications with External Entities

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 12, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Civil Rights Division Seeking Communications with External Entities

Department of Justice, DOJ - Civil Rights Division
FOIA Request
November 12, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with Specific External Entities

Department of Justice, DOJ - Criminal Division
FOIA Request
November 12, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with Leonard Leo

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 10, 2020

Records Request to Wisconsin Rep. Tusler Seeking Communications with Election Authorities

Wisconsin State Assembly
FOIA Request
November 10, 2020

Records Request to Wisconsin Rep. Tusler Seeking Communications with External Parties

Wisconsin State Assembly
FOIA Request
November 10, 2020

Records Request to Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Vos Seeking Communications with Election Authorities

Wisconsin State Assembly
FOIA Request
November 10, 2020

Records Request to Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Vos Seeking Communications with External Parties

Wisconsin State Assembly
FOIA Request
November 10, 2020

Records Request to Arizona State Rep. Townsend for Communications with Trump Campaign, RNC, and Voting-Restriction Groups

Arizona House of Representatives
FOIA Request
September 9, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Summary Purportedly Underlying Attorney General’s Inaccurate Comments on Voter Fraud

Department of Justice, DOJ - Office of Information Policy
FOIA Request