Election Ballots of U.S. Citizens Living Abroad to be Tabulated by a Company in Spain?

A right-wing radio presenter’s conspiracy theory from 2012 was regurgitated following the 2020 presidential election and flogged for political capital, as so many of them are.

In this case, Michael Savage was pushing the disinformation, claiming on the air that ballots belonging to American citizens living abroad — civilians and military servicemembers alike — would be tabulated by the Spanish company SCYTL.

In order to further rile up his listeners, Savage claimed that Scytl itself was owned by George Soros, the liberal billionaire who has become a boogeyman in right-wing circles.

“Soros is dangerous in my opinion, and Soros’ hands are all over that vote-counting company,” Savage claimed in an October 2012 broadcast. (Predictably, he offered no proof for the allegation.)

Savage’s lie spread even further after one of his listeners reportedly wrote an “open letter” to Congress that was disseminated online via chain emails. But a spokesperson for the Defense Department told TruthOrFiction that it did not have any contract with SCYTL. Neither, for that matter, did the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), the initiative that helps Americans living outside the country maintain their voter registration and vote in elections.

Years later, as Associated Press and others reported, Scytl was once again used as conspiracy theory fodder by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R), who claimed that “U.S. Army forces” had raided the company’s office in Frankfurt, Germany and seized servers he claimed would confirm then-outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s weaponized lie that he had won the 2020 presidential election. (In actuality, Trump was resoundingly beaten by Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden.)

According to Associated Press:

In his recorded remarks, Gohmert said he had heard from “former intel people” that Scytl maintained data that could be “gleaned” to prove Republican votes had been changed to Democratic ones in the Nov. 3 election.

But, according to the company, Scytl does not tally votes. Nor is there credible evidence Republican votes were changed to Democratic votes in the election.

George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, tweeted on Friday afternoon: “Breaking: Congressman Louie Ghomert has stated that The U.S. Army has seized servers for Dominion in Germany.”

However Gohmert also admitted he did not “know the truth” and that his purported source was a “German tweet in German.” Military officials quickly debunked his allegations.

The company — which does not even have offices in Germany — responded to Gohmert’s conspiracy theory in a statement saying, “We do not tabulate, tally or count votes in the US. We do not provide voting machines in the US. We did not provide online voting to US jurisdictions for the US elections. We do not have servers or offices in Frankfurt. The US army has not seized anything from Scytl in Barcelona, Frankfurt or anywhere else.”

Update 9/8/2021, 8:56 pm: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. -AG