Mike Lindell, the pillow magnate who’s sunk months and millions of dollars into pushing the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, is now officially a thorn in the side of multiple Republican secretaries of state.
Earlier this month, Lindell had a friendly meeting and photo-op with Alabama’s Republican secretary of state and governor — before announcing on his television show his belief that, actually, 100,000 votes in the state had been “flipped,” leaving Secretary of State John Merrill scrambling to correct the record.
Now, in response to separate Lindell allegations, Idaho’s Republican secretary of state has sent teams to physically recount the vote totals in two small counties — both times reaffirming the official winner — and is scheduled to recount certain precincts in a third county this weekend.
Of course, the recounts have not found any evidence of votes “flipped,” as Lindell claims.
Informed of the results over the phone Thursday by TPM, the deep-pocketed bedding entrepreneur wasn’t convinced.
“Now, is there a chance that this number that was extrapolated for this particular county would be wrong?” he asked, referring to his assertions about Butte County, one of the counties reviewed by Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney’s (R) office. “It’s never happened before but I’m not saying it’s impossible for one to be off.”
In a press release, Denney’s office said they picked Butte and another county, Camas, to recount after learning that Lindell had alleged “statewide manipulation of Idaho’s election results” in a document called “The Big Lie.”
“Once we had the document in hand, we immediately believed there was something amiss,” Chief Deputy Secretary Chad Houck said. “This document alleged electronic manipulation in all 44 counties. At least 7 Idaho counties have no electronic steps in their vote counting processes.”
Butte and Camas are tiny counties, meaning recounting them was quick: The entire process for each county was recorded and posted on YouTube.
In Butte, the original official canvas showed 1,202 votes for Trump and 188 for Biden. Lindell asserted that Trump really won 1,260 to 130, and cited complex mathematical formulas and web traffic. The official result, he said, reflected 116 “flipped” votes.
But the recount, the results of which were announced Wednesday, found 1,193 votes for Trump and 188 for Biden. The nine votes that Trump lost, the secretary of state said, “was likely attributed to the thermal printed ballots that come from assisted voter terminals, which are the same size as the absentee envelopes contained in the same storage boxes.”
In Camas County, the original canvas showed Trump winning 507 to 149. The recount showed a one-vote difference, with Trump winning 508 to 149.
“This human error of 0.14% could easily have been in our own process, or on election day,” Houck said, “but it was well short of the supposed 54 vote difference alleged by the ‘Big Lie’ spreadsheet.”
Lindell, informed that each one of the county’s ballots had been individually recounted during a visit from the secretary of state’s office, in front of observers from both the Democratic and Republican parties, was incredulous.
“When they say they’re hand-counting, are they looking at the actual person’s vote?” he asked before suggesting that the ballots could be counterfeit or cast on behalf of dead voters or people who’d moved.
“It’s more than just counting,” he said, adding later: “The ballots themselves are not real people.”
Houck told TPM that the secretary of state’s office looked specifically at the allegations Lindell made in his “Big Lie” document — and found them to be false.
“The fact is what they’re calling the truth is a full-on fabrication, at least in Idaho,” Houck said.
Houck said he took the integrity of Idaho’s elections “personally,” and that Lindell would be free to visit the secretary’s office like any other member of the public.
But, he added, “we do operate on actual information and actual data and actual facts, not on theories. So if he wants to get into specific allegations, then we need to understand what evidence he’s basing his allegations on. Because so far we haven’t seen much.”
Like other prominent voices pushing falsehoods about the 2020 election — such as ex-Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, who fundraised millions of dollars for the Maricopa County audit — Lindell’s wealth and large platform have made him a political force in his own right.
In August, Lindell hosted a “Cyber Symposium” in Sioux Falls where he promised to present evidence, in the form of snapshots of internet traffic, that Chinese hackers had stolen the election for Joe Biden. Dozens of elected officials from around the country attended, but no such evidence was presented to the group.
Lindell told TPM Thursday that he’d visited with state officials from Missouri, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania — “not necessarily secretary of states,” though, he noted.
He also said he’d planned to return to Alabama to meet again with Secretary of State John Merrill and his team. Lindell said he spent $30,000 to purchase a copy of the state’s voter rolls to analyze, and that he’d return soon to present his team’s findings.
“He said to come back,” Lindell recalled. “I said, ‘We’re going to come back and show you everything.’”
This post has been updated.