Emerging Narratives Around ‘Mail Dumping’ and Election Integrity

Kennedy, Ian; Beers, Andrew; Koltai, Kolina; Wack, Morgan; Schafer, Joey; Lockaby, Paul; Caulfield, Michael; Grass, Michael; Spiro, Emma S.; Starbird, Kate; Garcia-Camargo, Isabella

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the hyper-partisan, right-wing news website Gateway Pundit published an article stating that a batch of mail — including absentee ballots — had been found in a ditch in Greenville, Wisconsin. The article, which borrowed heavily from local media for factual details about the actual incident, falsely framed the situation as evidence that Democrats were “stealing the 2020 election.” (There is no evidence that the incident was politically motivated, that it is part of a pattern or strategy, or that it will have any effect on the election.) The false framing built upon and amplified existing narratives that mail-in voting is untrustworthy and other unfounded claims that there will be widespread fraud in the 2020 U.S. election.