April 16, 2022 | The Guardian

“US-imported” voter fraud claims on the rise on Facebook in the lead up to elections in Australia

In the lead up to the elections in Australia next month, the Australia Electoral Commission (AEC) and Facebook are sounding the alarm around the growing amount of misinformation suggesting baseless voter fraud and ballot altering. The campaign, being pushed by minor party candidates, mirrors many of the same claims that have plagued recent US elections. In a conversation with The Guardian, ISD’s Elise Thomas points out that “voter fraud rhetoric ‘imported’” from the US has been on the rise for months in Australia.

“There’s a bunch of candidates laying the ground for this election fraud narrative, you can see it coming. They have not solidified around any narrative on exactly how they claim it will be stolen, other than claiming the system is corrupt. It makes it harder to debunk, because there’s no specific allegation to counter… this formless accusation means it’s easy to make it sound scary.”

The posts urge voters to take precautions like bringing “pens to the ballot box instead of using pencils”, signing a “statutory declaration about their vote”, and even taking a “photo or video proof of their ballots”.

AEC continues monitoring the situation and will report any content found on Facebook that may be breaching Australian electoral laws. So far, it has successfully applied to have five posts and two pages removed.

Elise Thomas is an OSINT Analyst at ISD, with a background in researching state-linked information operations, disinformation, conspiracy theories and the online dynamics of political movements.