Election Season: Combatting disinformation

A quick guide to cutting and separating fact from fiction

Separating election facts from fiction

HOUSTON – Harris County’s newly minted Elections Administrator puts it plainly:

“From the Elections Administrator’s standpoint, I don’t have the budget to combat disinformation,” Clifford Tatum, Harris County Elections Administrator said.

Disinformation, inaccurate information, which is circulated by design, is not exclusive to any single political party.

“The biggest misinformation is just the broad idea that we can’t have faith and trust in our electoral system in Texas. Our system in Texas is secure. Our system is reliable. And while there may be some very small, isolated aspects of fraud, particularly related to mail-in voting, it’s not going to change the outcome of any election,” Mark Jones, a fellow with the Baker Institute’s Rice University, said.

There are tools available for voters to help separate the “wheat” from the “chaff”.

The Texas Secretary of State maintains a collection of verified information about the 2022 Elections, including security, chain of custody, and misinformation.

That is not to say that the Secretary of State has not identified issues.

This state audit finds fault with Harris County’s Mobile Ballot Boxes, which were employed during the 2020 General Elections.

The controversial drive-thru voting system is no longer employed by Harris County, but the new Harris County Elections Administrator penned a response to the Secretary of State’s findings.

The best defense against misinformation and disinformation is checking multiple trusted sources, but even that process can have its pitfalls.

“There’s a lot of what we call ‘motivated reasoning,’ (which) is (when) people tend to search out information that confirms their worldview, and ignore information that essentially contradicts their worldview,” Jones said.

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform has also tackled the issue of disinformation in the 2022 General Elections.

Jones points out that the report is written by the majority members of the committee, which means that it was written by House Democrats. The tenor and tone of the report would undoubtedly sound different if written by Republicans.

The Texas Secretary of State also has an informational series about voter registration in Texas and voting systems used in Texas.

The Secretary of State’s videos on these topics are below: