The claim: A software company’s contract allows officials to override election results
A Sept. 14 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) includes a screenshot of a post on X, formerly Twitter, about a company that supposedly makes software used by many states during their elections.
“BREAKING: Election software (KNOWiNK Systems) that is used in 36 states plus Washington, D.C., has contracts that include a clause that allows the election staff to override the results of an election,” the post reads.
It was liked more than 500 times in eight days. The original X post from the right-wing website Leading Report was shared more than 10,000 times in nine days.
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Our rating: False
The company’s founder said the claim is false. That clause allows county officials to manually update unofficial vote counts on election night in case of failure by the automated system that reports results in real-time, election officials and experts said. They said this action has no effect on the certified results that only become official after they are audited.
Contract clause covers real-time results, not final vote counts
Missouri-based KNOWiNK provides 1,700 election jurisdictions across the country with products that include electronic poll books to help workers verify a voter’s eligibility and systems that generate unofficial real-time results on election night.
But its agreements do not allow officials to pick winners and losers, as the post suggests, election officials and experts agree.
Scott Leiendecker, the former St. Louis election director who founded the company in 2011, called the claim “more disinformation” in an email to USA TODAY.
The claim in the X post appears to stem from a blog post that was republished by the Gateway Pundit ( a frequent source of misinformation) and cites the company’s contract with the state of Oregon in 2021 to upgrade its voter registration system.
The blog post refers to a line in the document that states, “The System shall allow the County Elections Staff to override the results, if necessary.”
But a closer look shows that line appears in the “Capability – Tabulation and ENR” section of the document. It explains that ENR stands for “election night reporting” and covers the “systematic process of quickly reporting election results to the general public.”
In other words, that clause covers only the unofficial results reported in real-time on election night, Ben Morris, a spokesman for the Oregon Secretary of State, said in an email to USA TODAY.
Counties use automated systems to send those figures to the state’s elections division, which then shares them publicly, Morris said. If those systems were to fail, that clause gives county officials a way to manually update the data, he said.
“This has nothing to do with the official certification of the votes, which determines who wins or loses an election,” Morris said.
Election officials certify those results during the ensuing weeks in a process that includes a test of vote-counting machines and a manual audit of paper ballots, Morris said.
The blog post is “misleading because it doesn’t include this context, allowing readers to believe that a staff person could change the votes,” Morris said. “That is false.”
The clause also gives officials a way to correct data entry errors or to add more accurate information to voter registration records, David Becker, the executive director of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation and Research, said in an email to USA TODAY.
“It does NOT allow a staffer to override election results or the votes on individual ballots,” Becker wrote.
USA TODAY has previously debunked claims from the Leading Report that malware and remote access caused printer problems in Arizona elections and that 200,000 ‘ejected’ ballots in Arizona and that a study found zero cases of autism, cancer or diabetes in Amish children.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the post and the writer of the blog post but did not immediately receive responses.
Our fact-check sources:
- Ben Morris, Sept. 18, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Scott Leiendecker, Sept. 18, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- David Becker, Sept. 18, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Oregon Secretary of State, Dec. 2, 2022, TRANSACTION DOCUMENT No. 1 System Implementation Services
- OregonBuys, June 17, 2021, Master Blanket Purchase Order PO-16500-00002791
- REJournals, March 31, KNOWiNK tripling size of headquarters in move to Missouri community
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