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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman November 11, 2020

No, Judicial Watch didn’t publish a bogus story about the National Guard recounting votes

If Your Time is short

  • Conservative website Judicial Watch didn’t publish the bogus story. It comes from a website called Before It's News, which allows anyone to sign up and publish stories. 

  • The article at the center of the claim builds on a debunked conspiracy theory that the federal government secretly watermarked official ballots to set up Democrats.

  • The National Guard said it is not taking part in a nationwide ballot recount and said that any election support it may provide is state-led and governor-driven.

Viral posts on social media falsely claim that conservative website Judicial Watch published a story called "Quantum Blockchain System Recount of Votes," a piece that alleges without evidence that "elite" National Guard units were recounting votes and found that President Donald Trump won re-election.

A screenshot of the supposed story on Instagram displays "Judicial Watch" at the top and says:

"A recount of voting ballots nationwide was being done by elite units of the National Guard by early Sun. morning 8 Nov. To prevent fraud official ballots had been printed with an invisible, unbreakable code watermark and registered on a Quantum Blockchain System.

"As of this writing, in five states 14 million ballots had been put through a laser scanner - 78% of which failed because there was no watermark to verify the ballot. Of those that failed 100% had checked for Biden.

"An initial test showed that according to water marks on validated ballots fed into the Quantum Computer, Trump won re-election by over 80% of the legal ballot cast. The final validated vote tallied in that test: Trump 73.5 million votes to Biden's 25.9 million - and that didn't even account for Trump votes that people observed being tossed and never accounted for."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

This isn’t true and is an iteration of a ridiculous conspiracy theory about watermarked ballots that we debunked in a previous fact-check with our harshest rating. 

We also could find no such story on Judicial Watch’s website and searches online and in news archives turned up no results.

The article, instead, came from the website "Before It’s News," which allows anyone to sign up as a member, write and publish stories.

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According to its FAQ page:

"What kind of stories can I post at Before It's News?

"We publish almost any story by almost anybody, as long as it's news, commentary, analysis or opinion. The other criteria is that the stories can't be commercially motivated in the news area. We do accept commercial stories in our promotional area only. You can post event notices, press releases and promotional stories, but we ask that those are placed in their respective areas."

The National Guard recount story is a different version of a QAnon-related conspiracy theory that baselessly claimed the Trump administration, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, secretly watermarked official ballots to set up Democrats (who allegedly aimed to cheat).

The federal government has no role in designing, printing or auditing ballots — the responsibility lies with state and local governments — and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, said there is no truth to the rumor.

The National Guard also told PolitiFact that it is not taking part in a nationwide ballot recount and said any election support it may provide is state-led and governor-driven.

Each state can tailor its National Guard forces to specific requirements to support elections, said National Guard spokesperson Army Master Sgt. W. Michael Houk.

"Governors have authority to activate their NG in State Active Duty to provide timely assistance in accordance with State law. If authorized, National Guard missions may include cyber support, logistical and administrative support, setting up polling stations, COVID-19 screening, and managing crowd flow," Houk said in an email to PolitiFact. "There are currently no National Guard men and women on duty for election support. The information you present suggests federal control of a state’s National Guard, which would not be the case."

We rate this post Pants on Fire!

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Nov. 10, 2020

PolitiFact, Did President Trump issue secret watermarks on ballots? No, that’s another QAnon conspiracy theory, Nov. 6, 2020 

Wayback Machine, Trump Win Validated by Quantum Blockchain System Recount of Votes, Nov. 8, 2020

Before It’s News FAQ page, Accessed Nov. 11, 2020 

Lead Stories, Fact Check: Judicial Watch Did NOT Publish Bogus Quantum Blockchain System Recount of Votes Story, Nov. 11, 2020

Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, #PROTECT2020 RUMOR VS. REALITY, Accessed Nov. 11, 2020  

Phone/Email interview, U.S. Army Master Sgt. W. Michael Houk spokesperson for the National Guard, Nov. 11, 2020

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No, Judicial Watch didn’t publish a bogus story about the National Guard recounting votes

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