Trump supporters parade along the Rose Parade route on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP)

Trump supporters parade along the Rose Parade route on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP)

‘This is unfortunate’: Inside Elections Canada after Trump’s tweet on voting machines

Trump used an educational tweet to attempt to further voter fraud claims

Elections Canada watched as social media posts from Canadians began wondering if the last federal election had been rigged by dubious voting machines.

The tweets were linked to the U.S. election and unverified claims from President Donald Trump and his allies that automatic vote tabulators were to blame for his loss to Joe Biden.

On Nov. 16, the agency tweeted how it only uses paper ballots counted by hand in a bid to educate Canadians.

On Nov. 17, Trump turned the tweet upside down by pointing to it as proof of the conspiracy against him.

“This is unfortunate and not at all intended,” chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault wrote in response to one email with a link to Trump’s tweet.

The email is among just over three dozen pages of documents about the social media posts obtained by The Canadian Press under the access-to-information law.

Many parts of the documents have been blacked out with officials citing them as sensitive advice to senior officials, or removing names for privacy reasons.

From what is available, it appears that the genesis for the tweet began on Nov. 9 with discussions taking place in the days after about how to respond to concerns about voting machines used in the U.S. presidential election.

Elections Canada officials noted that many Canadian social media users had been claiming that machines created by Dominion Voting Systems, used in the American election, had also been used here. One document notes some believed “the results of the last election illegitimate.”

“Users taking part in those discussions will point out the fact that machines were either used or could potentially be used to count the votes, adding to the already corrupt system and leading to rigged results,” reads one document.

“Most users seem to appreciate (Elections Canada) providing factual information and that information is being used to respond to inaccurate posts.”

Indeed, that’s what the agency sought to do during the American presidential election, explaining the voting system in Canada, particularly mail-in ballots that were in higher demand south of the border as a result of the pandemic.

Automatic tabulators aren’t used at the federal level for elections, but ones manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems were used in the party leadership race where Justin Trudeau became Liberal leader. A photo of him voting in that 2013 contest became part of the swirl of internet conspiracy speculation about the machines.

Dominion Voting’s systems have also been used by the federal Conservatives and numerous provinces and municipalities.

READ MORE: Donald Trump on Elections Canada’s disavowal of voting machines: ‘THIS SAYS IT ALL’

Elections Canada’s first tweet about automatic voting machines was on Nov. 12.

Four days later, the agency tweeted about the issue again, writing in part, “We use paper ballots counted by hand in front of scrutineers and have never used voting machines or electronic tabulators to count votes in our 100-year history.”

The next day, at 4:10 p.m., an internal email noted the post created “lots of very positive interactions” and “lots of new followers too.”

“Team did a really great job staying on top of all the interactions,” read the email that eventually made its way to Perrault.

The team’s job got busier 29 minutes later when the president hit the retweet button.

“THIS SAYS IT ALL!” Trump wrote to his 88.5 million followers at 4:39 p.m.

Six media requests landed within the next 45 minutes. Online responses from social media users flowed in and emails started landing in Perrault’s inbox.

One read, “Way to go, you have arrived on the inter web!” with two smiley faces. Another from a Liberal party official — the name has been redacted, but not the “@liberal.ca” — sent Perrault the tweet with a note, “I thought you might appreciate this shout out from Trump.”

Perrault’s response to the latter email was an abridged version of one he sent after 6:18 p.m. when he received a similar email from his counterpart in B.C.

“Yes, this is quite unfortunate and not at all intended: our social media team was simply responding to persistent questions and inaccurate stories about how we use Dominion,” Perrault wrote in response to the latter message.

“We have nothing against Dominion (or tabulation where it is warranted). Dominion voting and EMBs [electoral management bodies] that rely on them do not deserve this.”

The message that was crafted on Nov. 17 played out in some form over the ensuing days when Perrault or Elections Canada dealt with questions about Trump and the tweet: The message was “intended to inform people” who “mistakenly believed” the voting machines were used in federal elections, read a draft response for Perrault’s review, “and should not be construed as anything other than that.”

The documents also show the detailed evaluation of interactions it was seeing online, along with specific lines it could provide in response.

“Elections Canada strives to be the trusted source of information about the federal electoral process,” the agency said in a statement.

“When we notice incorrect information on social media, our social media team works with the agency’s subject matter experts to craft messages to counter that incorrect information.”

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Donald Trumpelection

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Joyce Cooper (left) said she had to set an example for Tsilhqot’in communities by sharing her COVID-19 positive results. (Photo submitted)
Tsideldel off-reserve member documents experience of COVID-19

We should all be supporting one another and not judging each other, says Joyce Cooper

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Esk’etemc First Nation (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins takes part in Secwepemc Health Caucus’s “Raising Our Spirits” ceremony Friday, Jan. 22. (Secwepemc Health Caucus Facebook image)
Secwepemc Nation raises spirits through song

More than 150 join virtual ceremony

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Most Read