On November 8, Channel 1, Russia’s main state TV channel, reported that the NBC News early voting tracker revealed fraud in the U.S. midterm elections. The BBC Monitoring journalist Francis Scarr posted a clip from Channel 1 on Twitter.
Showing NBC’s graphics, the Channel 1 anchor said:
“NBC News reports that 42 million people have already taken part in early voting. Part of them, naturally, voted by mail by throwing little envelopes in the postboxes, and the result of that postal vote is improbable! Democrats are winning. Democrats got 45 %, Republicans 35%, and 20% for others.”
The host then continued:
“It seems to me that Joseph Biden soon can squeeze out of the Guinness Book of World Records the president of Liberia who in 1927 won the most fraudulent presidential elections. 234,000 voters voted for him while there were only 15,000 registered voters in the country. Go on Joseph Biden!”
The statement that Democrats were winning is false because it misrepresents the NBC figures as results when they aren’t. And there’s no evidence of widespread fraud, if any, in the U.S. voting across 50 states and the District of Columbia.
NBC’s data shows the party affiliation of those who cast ballots in early voting. The website is careful to note that this is only a partial count. The tally so far does not include millions more who are voting November 8 in person at polling places.
Most importantly, the figures don’t mean that Democrats are winning; only that more Democrats have voted early. The figures do not show which candidates are getting these votes, which are secret.
This is a case of here we go again. U.S. officials say Russia interfered in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. And now they’re up to their old tricks.
On November 6, The New York Times reported that “Russia reactivated its trolls and bots ahead of the United States midterm elections.” Citing three social media research companies, Recorded Future, Graphika and Mondiant, the Times said the Russian campaign uses fake accounts “posing as enraged Americans” to add “fuel to the most divisive political and cultural issues in the country today.”
Channel 1 chose to highlight economic issues, perhaps because the U.S. and European Union have enacted punishing sanctions on the Russian economy over the war in Ukraine.
“The midterm elections will determine the future of the U.S. political system, which, let me remind you, is bulging at the seams,” the news host said in its November 8 report. “In America, there is a 40-year record inflation, unemployment, ski-high prices for gas and grocery. It’s a battle for survival.”
Those are issues stressed in the midterms by conservative Republican candidates who are hoping to take control of Congress from the Democrats and deal a blow to their party's president, Joe Biden.
Russia’s current interference campaigns are “much smaller than those in 2016 election,” and use less popular social networks like Gab, Parler and Getter, the Times said. Still, they “can engage the audiences in much more targeted influence ops because those who are on these platforms are generally U.S. conservatives who are maybe more accepting of conspiratorial claims,” the story said.
The accounts are linked to the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, the cybersecurity group Recorded Future has reported.
The Internet Research Agency, also known as Russia’s “troll farm,” is controlled by Yevegeny Prigozhin, a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin who also owns the private military company Wagner, whose mercenaries are fighting in Ukraine.
The U.S. Justice Department indicted Prigozhin, his troll farm, and its employees for malicious interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election. On November 7, Prigozhin bragged about infiltrating U.S. politics and said he wouldn’t stop.
“Gentlemen, we interfered. We are interfering and we will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do. During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once,” Prigozhin said in a social media post published by his press service.
The U.K.’s Guardian reported that Prigozhin’s statement “underlines the point of such interference operations,” which is that “it does not necessarily matter whether the interference actually succeeds in any meaningful way.”
“Instead, a significant part of its function is actively to sow distrust about the health of democratic institutions – not least by suggesting an outsized reach and capability.”
Wagner mercenaries have been accused of war crimes in Syria and Ukraine. The company is now opening training facilities in Russian provinces bordering Ukraine, according to the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C.
The think tank said Prigozhin, who recently has criticized the Russian Defense Ministry war effort, appears to be “attempting to grow his Wagner-focused power base in Russia while undercutting unified Russian operations in Ukraine.”
“Prigozhin is continuing to pose himself as a Russian strongman within foreign affairs by promoting his own engagement in election interference,” the ISW said.