On Thursday, President Donald Trump sent an all-caps tweet claiming that voting machines from a company called Dominion Voting Systems had deleted millions of votes for him around the country. The claim isn’t true, but he is the president—so it has had an impact. Election workers say they fear for their safety. They’re receiving death threats from supporters of the president.
Ben Hovland knows voting machines well. He runs the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an independent federal agency that, among other jobs, tests and certifies this technology. The EAC writes standards for voting systems and tests the machines in labs for security, usability, and safety. And Hovland says there has been no widespread fraud or malfunction that would change the result of the election. Nor has the president—or the lawyers who have unsuccessfully tried challenging the result— produced any actual evidence supporting Trump’s claims.
Hovland and I discussed what’s happened since the election and the extraordinary amount of disinformation coming from the White House. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, Hovland talked about the president’s legal woes, the future of election security officials, and his message for Donald Trump.
Q: What’s your reaction when the president tweets that Dominion deleted 2.7 million Trump votes?
A: Number one, it’s pretty baffling. Number two, I just wish that if claims like that were going to be made, they would actually be backed up with something credible. I think those types of statements matter. They cause Americans to lose confidence in the process.
That’s really concerning. Look at the president’s litigation. What we see is a very different story in front of a microphone or on Twitter than we see in front of a courtroom or in front of a judge. We see bold statements on Twitter or