How Eric Coomer Grew to become the ‘Excellent Villain’ for Voting Conspiracists


Coomer watched the video in shock. He’s adamant that he by no means participated in any antifa cellphone name, and he felt disgusted by the accusation that he had performed something to vary the outcomes of the election. The Trump marketing campaign and its allies have launched greater than 60 lawsuits claiming election fraud on this nation, however no courtroom has discovered persuasive proof to assist the concept Coomer, Dominion or anybody else concerned in vote-counting modified the election outcomes. Bipartisan audits of paper ballots in carefully contested states akin to Georgia and Arizona confirmed Biden’s victory; and distinguished Republicans, including Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump’s official in charge of election cybersecurity, have reaffirmed the essential info of the election: Over all, the outcomes have been correct, the election course of was safe and no widespread fraud able to altering the result has been uncovered.

Oltmann is now the topic of a defamation go well with introduced by Coomer. It at the moment names, as co-defendants, 14 events liable for the dissemination of Oltmann’s claims about that alleged antifa cellphone name, together with Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and the Trump marketing campaign. (Dominion has filed separate defamation fits towards Giuliani, Powell, Fox Information and others. Attorneys for Giuliani, Powell and for the Trump marketing campaign declined to remark. Fox referred to as the Dominion litigation “baseless” and defended its proper to inform “both sides” of the story.) Oltmann’s greatest protection can be to offer corroboration of his claims about that cellphone name — he has mentioned there have been as many as 19 individuals on the road — however he has to date declined to take action.

As Coomer watched the video, although, he felt a second robust emotion: a strong sense of remorse — as a result of the Fb posts have been, in actual fact, genuine. Why, he thought, hadn’t he simply deleted them? Coomer might think about how his phrases would sound to simply about any Republican, not to mention somebody already listening to on Fox Information that Dominion was switching votes for Biden. He advised me that he believed each phrase of what he mentioned on Fb, however when colleagues later requested him what he was considering, he was frank: He had screwed up. At a time when well-​funded efforts to sow distrust within the election have been already underway, Coomer had given conspiracy theorists a worthwhile useful resource, a grain of sand they might remodel into one thing that had the texture — the false promise — of proof.

Elections within the United States are impossibly convoluted. Each county — and, in some states, each municipality — runs its personal election, making a patchwork system by which voters in a single place might have a remarkably completely different voting course of from their neighbors only a few miles away. That variation can breed distrust: If voters in a single county imagine their election course of is being administered appropriately, completely different strategies in different counties may strike them as suspect.

Native governments additionally depend on personal firms like Dominion and its opponents ES&S and Hart InterCivic, which collectively management 90 p.c of the voting-machine market, to offer machines, software program and technical assist. For Individuals who’re suspicious about an election outcome — or wish to create suspicions — these comparatively obscure, personal firms current an apparent goal. In 2004, after George W. Bush narrowly received the presidency, Democrats focused on possible irregularities in Ohio, whose 20 electoral votes would have given the presidency to John Kerry. The voting machines utilized in Ohio that yr got here from Diebold, whose chief government, Walden O’Dell, was a longtime Republican donor. A yr earlier than the election, O’Dell wrote a letter to about 100 individuals inviting them to a fund-raiser: “I’m dedicated to serving to Ohio ship its electoral votes to the president subsequent yr,” he wrote. The language bolstered distrust of Diebold machines amongst some Democrats. O’Dell later mentioned the letter was a “large mistake,” and Diebold in the end bought its voting-machine enterprise.

Dominion was based within the wake of a special controversy: the failure of punch-card voting machines — and their notorious hanging chads — within the 2000 election. After Congress funded a invoice to interchange these machines, many counties bought direct-recording digital (D.R.E.) voting machines, which eradicated paper ballots altogether. The boundaries of that strategy turned obvious in 2006, when, in Sarasota, Fla., a Congressional race that used D.R.E. machines made by ES&S produced a outcome that struck partisans and impartial observers as unlikely. ES&S stood by the outcomes, however within the absence of a paper poll, doubts and uncertainty lingered.

Dominion was well-positioned at that second. John Poulos, the corporate’s chief government and one in every of its founders, began the enterprise in 2003, serving a small circle of purchasers who favored a paper poll. Moreover, Dominion developed a tabulator that stored a digital picture of the paper ballots so that they could possibly be simply audited. (In addition they bought machines that met the wants of visually impaired voters, with audio interfaces and headphones that allowed for independence and anonymity.)



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