Fact Check: US vote fraud conspiracy theory shifts to Myanmar

Louis BAUDOIN
·3-min read

Supporters of Donald Trump have relentlessly spread the conspiracy theory that election technology companies rigged the US presidential vote against him -- a claim American social media users are now adapting to Myanmar, where the military has seized power.

But the allegation is baseless. The companies say their equipment was not used in Myanmar, and images shot by AFP and a document from an election watchdog make clear that voting and counting was done by hand there.

"Myanmar's Nov election: Used Dominion & Smartmatic Millions of voting irregularities found Election Commission refused to look at evidence or cross-check voter rolls Military sees its role as stopping gov from breaking laws Arrests winner New election to be held Hello? America?" says a February 2, 2021 tweet.

The text was also shared on Facebook, eliciting approving comments such as: "Exactly what needs to happen here!" and "Time for our military to do the same!!"

But Dominion and Smartmatic -- which have filed defamation suits over false claims that they enabled fraud in the US, against people including Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani -- were not involved in the November 8, 2020 election in Myanmar.

Samira Saba, spokeswoman for Smartmatic, told AFP by email: "Smartmatic had no involvement in Myanmar's 2020 elections."

She added: "In fact, Smartmatic has never provided any election technology or services to authorities in that country. Any claim to the contrary is simply false."

Dominion did not respond to repeated requests from AFP for comment.

But a spokesperson for the company told PolitiFact: "This is a completely false claim. Dominion systems have never been used in Myanmar at any time."

- False vote fraud claims -

In Myanmar's election, the party of the country's de facto leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, achieved a landslide victory over the party favored by the military, which earlier this week seized power, justifying its intervention by alleging fraud in the vote.

But election monitors praised the integrity of the poll, and the international community has denounced the military's actions.

Paper ballots were counted by hand after voters filled them out with stamps in Myanmar, as can be seen in photos and video shot by AFP on election day.

A fact sheet published by STEP Democracy, a European Union-funded program that supports democracy in Myanmar, lists in detail all the equipment allowed inside polling stations.

It says voters use "ballot paper" and does not mention Smartmatic or Dominion equipment.

"Sensitive materials" that "must always be secured and accounted for by an election official" included ballots and counterfoil, ballot boxes, ballot box seals, voting stamps, and voter lists, it says. Other materials included tamper-proof bags, baskets to count ballots, and envelopes for advance voting.

Social media users who sought to compare the situation in Myanmar to that in the United States were relying on debunked claims that equipment used during the November 2020 US presidential election granted Biden fraudulent votes that allowed the Democrat to win.

Dominion is seeking damages of $1.3 billion from Giuliani in a defamation suit over his claims that the company's machines were part of a "massive fraud."

Smartmatic is meanwhile suing Fox Corporation, the owner of Fox News, for defamation and is seeking more than $2.7 billion in compensation for a "disinformation campaign" against it.

Giuliani and pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell are among those named in the complaint.

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