STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Does "The Deep Rig" unveil new or credible evidence that the 2020 election was fixed? No, that's not true: The film recycles claims that have been debunked. Without proof, it states as fact that there were "big injections of faulty votes" in key cities; it leans on a discredited report on Antrim County, Michigan, and it repeats false claims about ballots being suspiciously pulled from under a table in Fulton County, Georgia. Lead Stories has looked into those allegations before and found them lacking credible support.
The film appeared for purchase on its website (archived here) after a launch event on June 26, 2021. Based on a book by Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com, it includes interviews with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, attorney Matthew DePerno and Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel, among others. At 11 minutes 45 seconds, Byrne says:
This election was not free, fair and transparent.
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This fact check does not try to cover all the claims in the video, which runs roughly an hour and 45 minutes; it just looks at a few. Of course, the film's overarching claim is that the 2020 election was rigged -- which is not proven.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency characterized the 2020 vote as the most secure election in U.S. history, and William Barr, who was attorney general under President Donald Trump, has similarly said that investigators found no evidence of widespread fraud.
Around 15 minutes in, Byrne tries to make the case that widespread fraud isn't necessary -- that targeted instances of fraud in key cities could be enough to sway an election. He said:
It doesn't have to be widespread. You can't do it with widespread election fraud. You do it with narrow, deep fraud in six cities ... And each of these cities some excuse was created that, in one way or another, there was a three-hour interruption in vote counting, and in those interruptions, in one way or another, big injections of faulty votes.
In Fulton County, for example, the film alluded to the fact that a pipe break may have played a pernicious role. Lead Stories has covered that break before and the claim that it coincided with an alleged "ballot dump." That's not true. A pipe leak in Atlanta's State Farm Arena happened around 6 a.m. on November 3, 2020, and delayed the start of absentee ballot counting for about two hours, according to election officials. The supposed spike in votes for President Joe Biden happened much later.
Byrne said "big injections" also took place in Detroit and Milwaukee. As our previous fact checks have shown, sudden jumps in votes do not prove fraud. There's often a delay between when absentee ballots are counted and when they are reported, leading to what may look like a big injection. Also, keep in mind, mail-in ballots can heavily favor one or another candidate, since different demographic groups tend to use mail-in ballots as opposed to in-person voting.
Michigan makes several appearances in the film. At about 43 minutes, attorney DePerno talks about a report on Antrim County produced by Allied Security Operations Group. He reads a part of the report, which claimed:
We conclude that the Dominion Voting System is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.
Lead Stories has written about the report in the past. As we found, claims are not the same as proof in this or in any case. The expert making the claims has not been put under oath nor cross-examined, provides no witnesses and officials say he does not have access to the data needed to make the calculations he presents. See our previous fact check on the Antrim County report here.
The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate Oversight Committee's report on a monthslong investigation of alleged election fraud was released June 23, 2021. The report's main author, Republican Sen. Ed McBroom, said the committee found "no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud," despite what fellow Republicans began claiming after Donald Trump lost the presidential contest.
At one hour four minutes 12 seconds, Phil Waldron, who Lead Stories has written about before in connection to his claims about election fraud, alleges that a video showed workers suspiciously pulling ballots from under a table. Although he didn't say where the video was from, we recognized it as being from State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Waldron claimed:
That was the one that we got the video of. There were 30 other precincts that we didn't get the video of.
Contrary to what he said, two high-level officials with the Georgia secretary of state's office and a state elections board monitor each told Lead Stories that their investigations revealed nothing suspicious in the video. The officials said the ballots seen in the video were in regular ballot containers and they had been removed from their envelopes and processed while news media and election observers for the Republican Party and Trump campaign were present.
2021-07-01T23:54:07Z 2021-07-01T23:54:07ZAlso: Michigan Senate Oversight Committee's report on alleged election fraud: https://www.scribd.com/document/512812871/Michigan-Senate-election-report#from_embed