Efforts to Undermine the 2020 Election Results

The January 6, 2021, mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was a direct result of President Trump's incitement and refusal to acknowledge the results of the 2020 election, but he has not been the only one fanning the flames of 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 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, and the result has been confirmed by multiple state audits, the Electoral College, and Congress. 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, then-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.

Updates

News Roundup: Heightened Security, Unanswered Questions, and a Twice-Impeached President

January 14, 2021
The Trump administration may be ending in less than a week, but the work of protecting our democracy will continue.

Investigations Update: The Attack on the Capitol, Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Resignation, and White House Meeting with State Attorneys General

January 13, 2021
Summary: See the latest in our investigations of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, the resignation of U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak, and states’ responses to the pandemic.

News Roundup: A Dark Day

January 7, 2021
Wednesday’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was a frightening and astounding display of violence instigated by the president himself.

American Oversight Statement on Trump-Incited Mob Attack on Capitol

January 7, 2021
Every moment President Trump remains in power is a threat to our democracy and our nation.

Investigations Update: Trump’s Election-Stealing Efforts in Georgia, DeJoy’s Communications, and Giroir’s Covid-19 Text Messages

January 5, 2021
See the latest in our investigations into voter suppression in Georgia, the president’s efforts to overturn election results, and the postmaster general’s communications.

American Oversight Demands Records of Raffensperger, Kemp Communications with White House and Trump Lawyers

January 5, 2021
Following news of the president’s alarming call with Georgia’s secretary of state, we’re investigating Trump’s efforts to pressure state officials to overturn election result

Open Questions About President Trump’s Abuses of Office

December 28, 2020
Trump’s time as president was defined by multiple financial conflicts of interest and unprecedented abuses of power that touched nearly every aspect of public life — and there’s still a lot the American public needs to know.

Investigations Update: Preservation of White House Communications, Federally Deputized Portland Police, Trump Aide Banned from DOJ

December 8, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the Trump administration’s compliance with document preservation laws, law enforcement’s response to social unrest, and Covid-19 precautions at the state level.

Investigations Update: Krebs’ Firing, Federal Record Preservation Laws, and Trump’s Contacts with Michigan Officials

November 24, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the presidential transition process, the Trump administration’s compliance with document preservation laws, and false claims of widespread voter fraud.

Investigating the Firing of Key Election Security Official Who Defied Trump

November 23, 2020
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs was ousted after vouching for the security of the 2020 election — we’re seeking records about how it went down.

Investigations Update: ‘Sharpiegate,’ the Census, and Barr’s ‘Voter Fraud’ Investigations

November 17, 2020
See the latest in our investigations of the Justice Department’s voter fraud probes, the rush to finish the census, and criminal charges against protesters.

News Roundup: Trump’s Warped Priorities

November 12, 2020
As the nation rapidly approaches a quarter of a million deaths, President Trump is consumed with delegitimizing the election by pushing dangerous and unfounded claims about voter fraud.

American Oversight Launches Investigation into Wisconsin, Arizona Officials Repeating Trump Campaign’s Voter Fraud Allegations

November 12, 2020
None of these officials, nor the Trump campaign or the RNC, have provided any evidence to support these claims.

State and Local Officials’ Communications with Voting-Restriction Activists and Groups

November 5, 2020
False claims of widespread voter fraud have been given unearned amplification not just by the president, but by right-wing groups working on the ground in various states to convert those false claims into voting restrictions and overzealous voter-roll purges.
Show all updates

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Records Request to Fulton County, Ga., Seeking Communications with Secretary of State Concerning Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request to DeKalb County, Ga., Seeking Communications with Secretary of State Concerning Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request to Cobb County, Ga., Seeking Communications with Secretary of State Concerning Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request to Gwinnett County, Ga., Seeking Communications with Secretary of State Concerning Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request to Baldwin County, Ga., Seeking Communications with Secretary of State Concerning Investigations into Election Fraud

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December 10, 2020

Records Request to Floyd County, Ga., for Communications with Secretary of State Concerning Investigations into Election Fraud

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December 10, 2020

Records Request Fulton County, Ga., Seeking Secretary of State’s Solicitations of Records Related to Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request DeKalb County, Ga., Seeking Secretary of State’s Solicitations of Records Related to Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request Cobb County, Ga., Seeking Secretary of State’s Solicitations of Records Related to Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request to Gwinnett County, Ga., Seeking Secretary of State’s Solicitations of Records Related to Investigations into Election Fraud

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December 10, 2020

Records Request to Baldwin County, Ga., Seeking Secretary of State’s Solicitations of Records Related to Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request to Spalding County, Ga., Seeking Secretary of State’s Solicitations of Records Related to Investigations into Election Fraud

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Records Request to Floyd County, Ga., Seeking Secretary of State’s Solicitations of Records Related to Investigations into Election Fraud

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December 10, 2020

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December 4, 2020

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December 4, 2020

Records Request to Oklahoma State Department of Health Regarding Mask Mandate Impact on Covid-19 Spread

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December 3, 2020

Records Request to Florida Governor Regarding Meeting About Coronavirus Vaccine

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December 3, 2020

Records Request to Oklahoma Governor Regarding Meeting About Coronavirus Vaccines

Oklahoma Office of the Governor
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November 24, 2020

Records Request to Luzerne County, Pa., Seeking Emails with External Entities

Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania - Luzerne County
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November 23, 2020

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

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November 23, 2020

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

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November 23, 2020

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

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November 23, 2020

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

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November 23, 2020

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

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November 23, 2020

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November 19, 2020

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

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November 19, 2020

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

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November 19, 2020

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

South Dakota Attorney General
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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
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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
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November 19, 2020

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

Michigan - Wayne County
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November 19, 2020

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

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November 18, 2020

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November 18, 2020

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November 18, 2020

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

Arizona - Coconino County
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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

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November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Election Fraud Communications

Department of Justice
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November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Civil Rights Division Seeking Election Fraud Communications

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November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Criminal Division Seeking Election Fraud Communications

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FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Directives Concerning Election Fraud

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FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with Sen. Lindsey Graham

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November 18, 2020

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

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FOIA Request
November 18, 2020

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

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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

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November 18, 2020

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

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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

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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