With growing concern about “rigged elections” — bolstered by claims from Republican nominee Donald Trump and undercover video released by investigative journalist James O’Keefe — many Americans are on the lookout for things that seem “hinky” when they go about the voting process.
According to the New York Times, most of the things Americans are “seeing” have turned out to be the products of their own over-active imaginations.
For example, a few service dogs noticed at one Ohio precinct led to accusations of voter intimidation aimed at African Americans:
Over the weekend, a political activist with more than 30,000 Twitter followers wrote a post saying that Trump supporters with dogs were threatening black voters who went to the polls early in Cincinnati. The post sent his followers into a frenzy, but local officials said the man, Jim Wallis, was making a false claim. The message was later deleted.
‘I saw a couple of Seeing Eye dogs, one miniature horse wearing a campaign sign and another rather large but friendly dog on a leash,’ Tim Burke, the chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, told The Cincinnati Enquirer.
A man working on a memorial project was detained after a woman saw him taking photographs of gravestones in another Ohio precinct:
In Butler County, Ohio, Leah Edwards notified the authorities about voter fraud when she saw a man taking notes and photographing gravestones at a cemetery. ‘I can’t think of any other reason a person would be doing this,’ she wrote on the Facebook page of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
A man who said that he was the one later detained at the cemetery, Frank Flack, posted a reply that assailed Ms. Edwards for being irresponsible.
‘Sorry to dispel your conspiracy theory on voter fraud,’ Mr. Flack wrote. ‘If you would have stopped and talked to me, I could have let you know that I am a registered Republican!’
But in some cases, vigilance does appear to net real results.
Jerry Mosna was in his garden in San Pedro, California, when he says he noticed something odd by his mailbox — a stack of unused 2016 ballots addressed to his 89-year-old neighbor…sort of. The 83 ballots in the stack were all marked with different names, but the same address.
Mosna immediately knew that something was off:
“I think this is spooky. All the different names, none we recognize, all at one address.”
And his wife, Madalena, agreed:
“Eighty people can’t fit in that apartment.”
Mosna took the ballots to the Los Angeles Police Department, certain that he had stumbled on a case of voter fraud. But when they directed him to the local post office, he instead consulted a neighbor and contacted the county registrar.
A statement from the registrar was released shortly afterward:
“We are carefully reviewing our records and gathering information to fully identify what took place. Our preliminary assessment is that this appears to be an isolated situation related to a system error that occurred causing duplicate ballots to be issued to an address entered for a single voter.
We are working directly with the system vendor to ensure the issue is addressed and to identify any similar occurrences.”
According to all involved, the 89-year-old neighbor remains unaware of the situation.