Background

Questioninfo icon

Was there widespread fraud in the 2020 US election?

Answerinfo icon

The election was no different than previous elections, with minor fraud incidents that did not change the outcome.

(91% probability)

Backgroundinfo icon

The 2020 US presidential election officially concluded with president Joe Biden declared the winner over his opponent, former President Donald Trump. The results have been disputed by many, including Trump, claiming the Biden victory was obtained illegally, by various means of election fraud. Due to the complexity of the US election system and the number of fraud claims raised, the issue is not easily settled, and a probabilistic analysis is needed.

Hypotheses Consideredinfo icon

Calculated Resultsinfo icon

Calculated Resultsinfo icon

1

91%
No Effect:

The election was no different than previous elections, with minor fraud incidents that did not change the outcome.

91%

2

4.4%
Computer fraud:

The election outcome was manipulated through a centralized mass computer fraud, involving a significant portion of US electronic voting equipment.

4.4%

3

4.3%
Centralized fraud:

The election outcome was manipulated through the centrally coordinated effort of multiple people.

4.3%

4

0.6%
Decentralized fraud:

The election outcome was manipulated through many local and uncoordinated frauds, whether human or machine-based.

0.6%

Starting Pointinfo icon

Initial Probabilities

Name
Initial Likelihoods
info icon
No Effect
85%
Centralized fraud
7%
Computer fraud
2%
Decentralized fraud
6%

According to research, almost all presidential elections are accompanied by low-level fraud that does not affect the outcome. There have been a few known cases of centralized and decentralized frauds in small elections, while there is no known prior for computer fraud.

To account for yet undiscovered frauds and new technologies, we

generously
increase the initial likelihood of fraud, and especially computer fraud.

Name
Initial Likelihoods
info icon
No Effect
85%
Centralized fraud
7%
Computer fraud
2%
Decentralized fraud
6%

Evidenceinfo icon

Effectinfo icon

Fraud Claims

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
93%
Centralized fraud
÷2.4
3.5%
Computer fraud
÷1.8
1.2%
Decentralized fraud
÷3.5
1.8%

Nearly all of the fraud claims in the 2020 elections were either debunked or remain unproven. No claim or combination of claims has been found to be both true and sufficient for changing the outcome of the election. This has been the conclusion of virtually all government and election officials, recounts, courts, experts, and the governors and secretaries of states, in the disputed states. We have independently validated a sample of the key conclusions. 

Yet some claims do exemplify windows of opportunity for fraud, and some actions by officials in those situations (especially in Georgia) are somewhat abnormal.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
93%
Centralized fraud
÷2.4
3.5%
Computer fraud
÷1.8
1.2%
Decentralized fraud
÷3.5
1.8%

Results vs. Expected results

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
95%
Centralized fraud
÷1.3
2.6%
Computer fraud
÷1.3
0.9%
Decentralized fraud
÷1.7
1.1%

When comparing the results of the election to polls predictions, the results in the Georgia

runoff election
, and the voting history in the disputed states, there is no evidence of fraud. These factors greatly reduce the plausibility of claims that allege hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes in a single state. Smaller frauds - which are the majority of the claims - would probably not be detected by these tools and comparisons.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
95%
Centralized fraud
÷1.3
2.6%
Computer fraud
÷1.3
0.9%
Decentralized fraud
÷1.7
1.1%

Voter Turnout

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
×1.1
96%
Centralized fraud
-
2.4%
Computer fraud
-
0.9%
Decentralized fraud
-
1%

While turnout increased significantly in the 2020 elections, the increase was nationwide and bipartisan (though it has leaned more Democratic). Statistical analysis also showed no indication of fraud. As such, we slightly increase the likelihoods of the No effect hypothesis.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
×1.1
96%
Centralized fraud
-
2.4%
Computer fraud
-
0.9%
Decentralized fraud
-
1%

Margins in disputed states

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
94%
Centralized fraud
×1.5
3.6%
Computer fraud
×1.5
1.3%
Decentralized fraud
÷1.4
0.7%

The small margins in the disputed states reduce the likelihood of an effective decentralized fraud. With no coordination between participants, there is no way of knowing when to stop altering the vote in order to avoid raising red flags. 

The margins in the disputed states are small compared to the results nationwide. But this seems to be the standard, as challenging these results (in courts, media, etc.) has the greatest chance of success.

Nonetheless, Democrats winning 6 out of the 7 states with the smallest margins is a little less likely and so we

generously
increase the likelihoods of the effective frauds.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
94%
Centralized fraud
×1.5
3.6%
Computer fraud
×1.5
1.3%
Decentralized fraud
÷1.4
0.7%

Missing evidence

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
96%
Centralized fraud
÷1.4
2.6%
Computer fraud
÷1.3
1%
Decentralized fraud
÷1.3
0.5%

Election frauds are sometimes accompanied by whistleblowers or anomalies detected by fraud detection software. The lack of these in the 2020 elections slightly reduces the likelihood of effective frauds.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
96%
Centralized fraud
÷1.4
2.6%
Computer fraud
÷1.3
1%
Decentralized fraud
÷1.3
0.5%

Election systems vulnerabilities and defenses

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
91%
Centralized fraud
×1.8
4.3%
Computer fraud
×4.8
4.4%
Decentralized fraud
×1.1
0.6%

Contrary to exaggerated claims by regulators and the media, the 2020 election was not beyond the possibility of an effective fraud, but it is still unlikely. 

Though the systems are somewhat secured and, more importantly, decentralized and mostly disconnected from the internet, there are still significant and proven methods of hacking individual systems and a few proven, yet complicated, methods of hacking significant portions of the electronic election system. 

Almost all voting machines in the US, and all of the machines in the six disputed states, print paper ballots that are checked by the voter, which should create a discrepancy with hand recounts in case of digital fraud. No such discrepancy was found but there are a few known methods of bypassing even the paper audits. 

As such, we

generously
increase the likelihoods of effective frauds.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

No Effect
-
91%
Centralized fraud
×1.8
4.3%
Computer fraud
×4.8
4.4%
Decentralized fraud
×1.1
0.6%

Discussioninfo icon

userIcon
user icon
overlord
Jul 31, 2022 at 10:01 AM
Can you include 2000 mules in your analysis? https://node-1.2000mules.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/dineshdsouza
user icon
don'twannagetassassinatedbyccp
Apr 29, 2021 at 11:18 PM
You may find this interesting: https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/who-team-scientist-wuhan-lab-workers-fell-sick-in-2019-104497733806 Appears to corroborate the claims of US intelligence. Very interesting how evasive and dismissive the interviewee is.
user icon
Panda-monium6015
Mar 17, 2021 at 11:05 PM
While I tend to agree with the most points of your analysis, I think you are missing one big relevant point here. This election had an unprecedentedly high portion of mail-in votes. We know that mail-in votes tend to strongly lean towards democrats. Any change you make in the voting system, rules, or checks that favour mail-in votes will mean more points towards democrats. I've seen lot of claims (but haven't checked or verified them) that this elections general approach towards mail-in votes and their validity was more lenient than usual and that this was mostly case in democratic prescints. This probably doesn't constitute a fraud, but still wouldn't be cool. Secondly, mail-in voting enables people living outside of the state to vote even though they legally can't. There was a claim that due to the popularisation and simplification of mail-in voting this was actually a case happening. Again, haven't verified the claim, but if true, this would slightly increase the decentralised fraud alternative.
user avatar
Unknown
Mar 17, 2022 at 2:06 PM
You may ask your self this question instead. Why was it so many mail-in votes 2020? Did something happen 2020 that made people stay inside because of lockdown and stuff? Maybe a worldwide spread virus with the nickname being Covid-19?
user avatar
Doug Strand
Oct 17, 2021 at 6:40 PM
“ We know that mail-in votes tend to strongly lean towards democrats.” How do we know that? If it is not a fact, the rest of your argument is moot.
user avatar
Jasmine M Bose
Mar 17, 2021 at 3:06 PM
19 House seats flipped from the 538 forecast. 18 flipped from Democratic prediction to Republican victory. 1 flipped from Republican prediction to Democratic victory. The discrepancy between Unadjusted Exit Poll and Election Result in the Senate races was one-sided favoring Republicans. This adds to probability of major fraud, in my opinion.
user icon
Christopher Smith
Apr 24, 2021 at 12:45 AM
Projections being off from forecast is not unusual, and neither is there being a partisan bias to the discrepancy either. 538 did a pretty good article on this: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polls-werent-great-but-thats-pretty-normal/. The notion of polls being laser-like accurate or being unbiased in their errors is mostly a myth. The 2020 election actually had a great deal of polling that went the other way as well. The Senate had a lot of races that the polls claimed were tight that went heavily to the Republicans, and the Presidential race certainly went better for Trump than expected. If 2020's outcomes against the polls prove fraud, then what about 2016 or 1980? The reality is, the polls generally have a degree of error in them.