Fact-checking “2000 Mules,” the movie alleging ballot fraud – The Denver Post

A film debuting in over 270 theaters across the United States this week uses a flawed analysis of cellphone location data and ballot drop box surveillance footage to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election nearly 18 months after it ended.

Praised by former President Donald Trump as exposing “great election fraud,” the movie, called “2000 Mules,” paints an ominous picture suggesting Democrat-aligned ballot “mules” were supposedly paid to illegally collect and drop off ballots in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

But that’s based on faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper analysis of cellphone location data, which is not precise enough to confirm that somebody deposited a ballot into a drop box, according to experts.

The movie was produced by conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and uses research from the Texas-based nonprofit True the Vote, which has spent months lobbying states to use its findings to change voting laws. Neither responded to a request for comment.

Here’s a closer look at the facts.

CLAIM: At least 2,000 “mules” were paid to illegally collect ballots and deliver them to drop boxes in key swing states ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

THE FACTS: True the Vote didn’t prove this. The finding is based on false assumptions about the precision of cellphone tracking data and the reasons that someone might drop off multiple ballots, according to experts.

“Ballot harvesting” is a pejorative term for dropping off completed ballots for people besides yourself. The practice is legal in several states but largely illegal in the states True the Vote focused on, with some exceptions for family, household members and people with disabilities.

True the Vote has said it found some 2,000 ballot harvesters by purchasing $2 million worth of anonymized cellphone geolocation data — the “pings” that track a person’s location based on app activity — in various swing counties across five states. Then, by drawing a virtual boundary around a county’s ballot drop boxes and various unnamed nonprofits, it identified cellphones that repeatedly went near both ahead of the 2020 election.

If a cellphone went near a drop box more than 10 times and a nonprofit more than five times from Oct. 1 to Election Day, True the Vote assumed its owner was a “mule” — its name for someone engaged in an illegal ballot collection scheme in cahoots with a nonprofit.

The group’s claims of a paid ballot harvesting scheme are supported in the film only by one unidentified whistleblower said to be from San Luis, Arizona, who said she saw people picking up what she “assumed” to be payments for ballot collection. The film contains no evidence of such payments in other states in 2020.

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