Elections Canada was inundated with media requests, emails and social media engagement after the agency’s Twitter account was retweeted by former president Donald Trump in November, internal documents show.
Emails obtained through access to information show Elections Canada bureaucrats scrambling to respond to media inquiries after the retweet, which two officials called “unfortunate.”
“Yes, this is quite unfortunate and not at all intended,” Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault wrote in response to an email from his counterpart in British Columbia. “Our social media team was simply responding to persistent questions and inaccurate stories about how we use Dominion. We have nothing against Dominion (or tabulation where it is warranted).”
In another email, deputy chief electoral officer Anne Lawson calls the tweet “very unfortunate, to say the least.”
“The only good thing about this: we’ve just been retweeted to 88 (million) followers,” one official wrote.
Included in the documents is a screenshot from an internal Slack messaging group, in which someone reacted to an article about the Trump retweet with a poop emoji, an image depicting a smiling pile of feces.
The catalyst was a tweet from Elections Canada responding to a surge in questions about vote-counting machines made by Dominion, a Canadian company put under the microscope by prominent Republicans following the 2020 presidential election.
“Elections Canada does not use Dominion Voting Systems,” the tweet said. “We use paper ballots counted by hand in front of scrutineers and have never used voting machines or electronic tabulators to count votes in our 100-year history.”
“THIS SAYS IT ALL,” Trump said in his retweet.
One internal email suggests the initial tweet might not have gone over well among Elections Canada staff.
“Do we know yet who is approving the tweets we are issuing?” wrote one senior director.
“I do not know. This is the same thing that I saw on Facebook which I also reacted to,” her colleague replied.
The response generated was greater than Elections Canada had ever received, even during an election, one staffer noted.
Emails sent to Elections Canada from the general public show a combination of support for the message and criticism for seemingly meddling in a presidential election.
This concern was echoed by an impassioned media request from a Wall Street Journal reporter.
“I need answers immediately about a tweet that Elections Canada issued on Nov 16 about using paper ballots and not using the Dominion Voting System,” the reporter said. “Why did Elections Canada believe it needed to insert itself into a US electoral dispute?”