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No, George Soros Does NOT Own Voting Machines.

Here's a fun new election conspiracy theory. A series of fringe right-wing blogs and some more prominent places like The Daily Caller have reported that George Soros has "deep ties" to, or even owns, a voting machine company that's going to be used during the election — and that he might use the machines to rig votes.

The rumor has gotten enough air that one citizen created a White House petition asking "George Soros owned voting machines" to be removed. Almost 60,000 people have signed it.

The truth: Soros does not own voting machines, does not own any portion of the voting machine company, oh, and these machines are not even being used during the presidential election.

After the flurry of rumors, the voting machine company, Smartmatic, put up a notice saying, "George Soros does not have and has never had any ownership stake in Smartmatic" and the company "will not be deploying its technology in any U.S. county for the upcoming 2016 U.S. Presidential elections."

The rumor is relatively easy to fact check. Smartmatic machines have previously been used in local elections in Colorado and Florida, both of which publish the technology they'll be using in each precinct. Colorado has a nice color-coded map listing voting system vendors and equipment, and Smartmatic is not listed. Florida requires each county to prepare an "election preparation report," which is listed online and includes this information. No county in Florida is using Smartmatic.

According to data released by the federal Election Administration Commission, none of the counties that responded to a nationwide survey used Smartmatic technology during the 2014 general election.

Smartmatic did provide voting technology to a few locations for presidential primaries this year, including in Utah and in Los Angeles County. In Utah, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders won the caucuses handily. In Los Angeles, Trump won 70 percent of the vote and Clinton won 57 percent.

So where did the claim about "deep ties" come from? It's a bit of the Kevin Bacon game. Smartmatic Chairman Lord Mark Malloch-Brown sits on the Global Board of the Open Society Foundations, a grantmaking organization founded and funded by Soros, along with more than 20 other people. OSF has 22 boards, and each of those boards has several members. OSF, as it happens, also supports ProPublica. Have fun with that, folks.

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Portrait of Jessica Huseman

Jessica Huseman

Jessica Huseman covers voting rights and election administration for ProPublica.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

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