Many American voters believe that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election because of voting fraud – referring to it as “the Big Lie.” In the Bellevue University Library’sFilms on Demand” database, the Frontline documentary “Plot to Overturn the Election” investigates the disinformation campaigns that have convinced so many Americans to ignore factual evidence in favor of party-allegiance.

The story begins in Antrim, a remote county and republican strong-hold in Northern Michigan. The Frontline host interviews Antrim County’s clerk, Sheryl Guy – one of the main people responsible for processing votes and a Trump supporter herself. The day after the 2020 presidential election, Sheryl was notified that Biden had won the county, which seemed to be a mistake.

“What happened is, originally, the ballot had left off a village trustee, and we had to add that village trustee to the ballot. The problem was… we did not pull back all of our jurisdiction cards, and so they fell into the wrong cell. It was human error… It was an honest mistake. I owned it within two, three hours the next morning…”

With the error fixed, Trump won the county. This should have been the end of the mistake. However, a local Republican sued the county, questioning whether the voting machines had been tampered with. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, Sheryl learned that an out-of-state group was coming on a private jet to inspect the voting machines.

The Frontline host does some digging to find out who flew into Antrim, which leads to a small firm in Texas called Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG). ASOG is an alt-right company that exclusively works with ultra-conservative corporations and focused their efforts to support the Trump administration.

The Frontline host interviews one of the country’s most prominent experts on voting systems who investigated what happened in Antrim for the State of Michigan. ASOG’s inspection and subsequent report claimed that the voting machines in Antrim were intentionally designed to produce fraud and alter the election’s result. The expert’s analysis found that ASOG’s report was laced with falsehoods and “was written by someone… [who] was intentionally trying to push a specific narrative.”

Despite this, President Trump started publicly voicing the debunked allegations put forth in this report.

“[ASOG was] hoping to find evidence of a stolen election, and what they found was nothing… They produced a long report, which was deeply riddled with errors, which multiple experts would find to be utterly bunk. [But the report’s] veneer of technical legitimacy… [meant] that its false allegations would spread very wide, go viral… and create a pillar of the election fraud myth.”

The investigation follows various threads, moving from a clandestine meeting of Trump supporters at a South Carolina plantation, to the questionable inspections of voting machines, to an ongoing political tour, starring a wealthy libertarian Trump supporter. With each new destination, another piece of the puzzle falls into place. This documentary plumbs the depths of “the Big Steal” election fraud myth, unearthing an intricate plot to overturn the 2020 election results.

A well-informed public stands in a better position to advocate for themselves, despite propaganda and outright lies. It is enlightening to learn about the devious machinations of a man desperate to stay in power and the efforts of his well-heeled followers to keep him there. This Frontline investigation reinforces the need for factual verification and the questioning of “facts” put forth by people with a political agenda.

Originally posted in the Freeman/Lozier Library’s quarterly newsletter, More Than BooksV. 26 No. 1, Winter 2022.

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