If you’re like a lot of people, you probably don’t pay much attention or give much thought to the brand name on the voting machine when you cast your ballot. So you’ve probably never heard of “Smartmatic.” But you can bet your crazy right-wing Trump supporting uncle can tell you all about them. You see, in the alternative universe inhabited by Trump supporters and other assorted crazies, Smartmatic machines are going to help Hillary Clinton steal the election from Donald Trump.
Various right-wing blogs and Reddit groups have been lit up over the past day or two over a supposed George Soros connection to Smartmatic voting machines. Soros is the billionaire businessman who is a longtime supporter of Democratic causes and politicians, and a favorite boogeyman of the right.
On October 23, the hilariously misnamed site “The Truth Division” published a story with this headline:
The story goes on to explain how Smartmatic, which is based in the UK, has provided thousands of voting machines in 16 states. And George Soros is connected to the company! A-HA! They caught us red-handed.
The comments are a cornucopia of conspiracy theories, as you would expect.
Of course Fox News jumped into the fray. The terminally stupid Steve Doocy spoke to serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey on Tuesday’s Fox & Friends, where she expressed her concern about Smartmatic and the company’s ties to Soros.
— FOX & Friends (@foxandfriends) October 25, 2016
And on Twitter, the favorite social media platform of conservatives because you don’t have to form complete thoughts, the reaction has been typically nuts.
— Andrea Brown (@Verizon2004) October 25, 2016
— America First (@FoleyJames77) October 25, 2016
At least one “deplorable” feels vindicated by this “news”:
— Chill (@countchilly60s) October 25, 2016
Now for the truth.
This entire claim was thoroughly debunked before Fox and the right-wing sites even picked up on it. Snopes reported it as “false” on October 20. And they included the list of 16 states where the alleged Soros machines are going to influence the election. If anybody believes that the majority of these states actually need to have their elections “rigged” in Hillary’s favor, let me show you this great swamp land I have for sale. Here’s the list:
- Washington D.C.
- New Jersey
The first problem with the list is that it includes states that haven’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate in years. The second problem is that in many of the states on the list — Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin for example — Republicans control the government and therefore the mechanics of the election.
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But the biggest problem with this entire story? Smartmatic machines aren’t even being used in this election. The claim that they are going to be used in those states appears to have been made up out of whole cloth. In a report on McCaughey’s visit to Fox & Friends, even right-wing Newsmax got the story straight:
Smartmatic itself has noted that its machines will not be in use in the U.S. elections, and denies any involvement with Soros or political parties. Further, the company points out that it is ‘100 percent privately owned’ and that Soros has never any ownership stake in the firm, which moved to London from Florida to service its global interests.
The Washington Post, in a story titled “What was fake on the internet this election,” noted that Soros has at best a tenuous connection to Smartmatic, which is owned by British citizen Lord Mark Malloch-Brown. It seems Malloch-Brown sits on the board of the Open Society Foundation, which is owned by Soros. And the Post points out that the OSF has 22 boards, with dozens of members, so it’s not completely clear whether Malloch-Brown and Soros even know each other.
And that, as they say, is a wrap. But heaven forbid the truth stop a good conspiracy theory from making the rounds in conservative media.