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

Blotter bug
Alberta RCMP highlights reasons not to call 911 for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

‘Can you bring me a hamburger? I am hungry and cannot drive!’

Supporters gather outside GraceLife Church near Edmonton, Alta., on Sunday, April 11, 2021. The church has been fenced off by police and Alberta Health Services in violation of COVID-19 rules. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

GraceLife Church and its pastor, are charged for holding services that break health restrictions

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,183 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

50.5% of all active cases are variants of concern

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read