TOPEKA — Douglas Frank entertained a church crowd in Topeka with bogus conspiracies about hacked voting rolls, fake ballots, machines secretly connected to cellphone towers and a plot by technocrats to predetermine the outcome of elections.
The March 15 performance followed a presentation hours earlier before the House Elections Committee, where the Republican chairman admonished Frank for denigrating and promoting violence against government officials.
Frank, backed by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, travels the country propping up the Big Lie with talk of “a sixth order polynomial,” Frank’s discredited algorithm for finding irregularities in voting data. In his appearances before state legislatures, Frank describes himself as a math teacher from Ohio. Community Church in Topeka billed Frank as “a world-renowned physicist” for a “special event” that would answer the question: “Are elections in Kansas safe?” Four Republican members of the House were among an estimated 50 people in attendance.
“Your secretary of state knew before the election that your books are completely hackable, that your poll books, when you sign in when you go to the polls, are completely hackable,” Frank said in audio obtained by Kansas Reflector. “They knew it. And they were hacked big time. Because we have recordings of that. By the way, those recordings have usernames and passwords. I have the usernames and passwords for all your county clerks in your state. That’s how secure they are.”
Secretary of State Scott Schwab said his office reviews voter rolls and computer logs regularly and hasn’t seen any evidence of compromise.
“These types of unfounded allegations,” Schwab said, “are harmful to our republic.”
Frank doesn’t let facts get in the way.
President Joe Biden’s legitimate victory in the 2020 election is the culmination of a scheme that began in the 1990s, Frank said, to gradually pad voter registration rolls so that fake advanced ballots could be generated to sway elections. Nationally, he pegged the fraud at 30 million ballots. In Kansas, he said without evidence, there were 45,000 phantom voters.
“If you want to stay red, you have to fix this problem,” Frank said, without offering a solution.
Joining Frank in the presentation of flawed and fake analysis were retired Air Force Lt. Col. Gregory Shuey, who came equipped with a QAnon explanation for how the election was stolen from Donald Trump, and Dakota Davis, a data scientist from the Kansas Voter Research Project. Kansas Reflector couldn’t readily find an online record of the organization.
Rep. Tatum Lee, R-Ness City; Rep. Randy Garber, R-Sabetha; and Rep. Cheryl Helmer, R-Mulvane, addressed the crowd. Rep. Clarke Sanders, R-Salina, also was there, speakers said.
“The Democrats aren’t our problem up here in Topeka,” Lee said. “And let me just tell you, Topeka is worse than we thought. It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible. But it’s not the Democrats. We know where they stand. We know they’ll stab us in the back, because we know what we know, right? It’s those that come to your Republican events, and they tell you how conservative they are. It’s the RINOs.”
‘Purge the evil’
Frank warmed up the church crowd with a charming story about how he has been married to his high school sweetheart for 40 years.
The couple has three children. The youngest, a son, is 19.
“He says there are no conservative girls left in the world,” Frank said. “So what I do is, when I come home from my trips and I find these really beautiful 19-year-old girls, I take selfies with them, and I get their information. So every time I come home for two or three days, I say, ‘Here are some more, son.’ It’s pretty fun.”
Frank received a warmer welcome at the church than he did for his performance earlier in the day in the House.
Garber had invited Frank to testify at a hearing in February, and Frank returned for an encore after Garber helped secure a meeting between Frank and Nemaha County election officials. This time, Rep. Emil Bergquist, a Park City Republican who chairs the Elections Committee, began the hearing by raising concerns about one of Frank’s messages on the Telegram social media platform.
Using his “Follow the Data with Dr. Frank” account, Frank on Dec. 18, 2021, posted an image of a mob carrying pitchforks and sickles. Taking inspiration from a passage of “Deuteronomy,” Frank wrote: “Imagine if someone has a gutless and corrupt official who does not respect the constitution nor the will of their constituents, the citizens shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This official of ours is gutless and corrupt. He ignores the will of the people. He is tyrannical and evil.’ Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All communities will hear of it and be afraid.”
“Oh, wait,” Frank added. “That’s what a tar and feathering is … torches and pitchforks. We already have that. We don’t need more laws. We need accountability. And it’s up to the citizens to make it happen.”
Bergquist told Frank there is no room in civil government for threats, mob burnings or lynching.
“We are blessed with a process that few others in the world see. Freedom of speech and civil discourse. That is all we need here,” Bergquist said. “And that’s what we came here for. Without these, we lose this gift of liberty that God has blessed us with.”
Frank proceeded to describe how easily an election can be stolen, using Nemaha County as an example.
Bloated voter registration rolls are central to Frank’s argument. People often move without updating their voter registration, and election officials have to be careful about whom they delete from records.
The idea is “they” — when pressed by legislators on the panel, Frank identified Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and George Soros as likely culprits — decide the outcome of an election in advance, then print ballots that correspond to excess registrations and have them delivered to drop boxes en masse.
If that isn’t enough, they can hack into voting machines that secretly connect to cellphone towers while monitoring results on election night.
“Before all the elections, they get together?” said Rep. John Toplikar, R-Olathe. “The ‘they’ people get together and decide what they’re going to do?”
“Somebody does,” Frank said.
Rep Vic Miller, D-Topeka, joked that he has “hard evidence” of voter fraud within his district.
“I only got 70% of the vote,” Miller said. “When people I talked to, every one of them said they voted for me.”
‘Why even vote?’
Frank’s conspiracy theory quickly falls apart under scrutiny.
Advance ballots contain a unique barcode and must be matched to a voter’s signature. Even if those security measurers could be thwarted, Rep. Ken Collins, R-Mulberry, pointed out, the scheme would require a lot of manpower, and it would be difficult to keep everybody quiet.
The best evidence Frank could offer was reference to a video showing a lot of ballots being transported in another state. The obvious explanation: It was a Post Office driver.
Frank, who referenced his appearances in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, said he plans to canvass Kansas voters to find evidence of fraud.
Rep. Pat Proctor, R-Leavenworth, wondered why someone would go to such trouble to rig an election on behalf of Democrats and still give Republicans a supermajority in both the House and Senate in Kansas.
“What did they accomplish?” Proctor said. “Because there’s a there’s a huge risk to engaging in felonies to sway an election. What’s the point?”
Maybe the goal wasn’t to win in 2020, Frank said. Maybe they are looking at a longer-term strategy.
Bergquist reminded Frank of a conversation the two had the night before the hearing, in which the chairman told him not to denigrate anyone. And yet, Bergquist said, Frank had made hurtful remarks about county officials who weren’t present to defend themselves.
“Forget about a political year — talk about individuals and their lives,” Bergquist said.
The 105 counties in the state are filled with people who “do their very best to present a good election for their people,” Bergquist said.
The people of Kansans “would love to have a nation that they can depend on for the next 100 years,” Bergquist said. Few people are intentionally trying to destroy it.
“There’s going to be a lot of comments come back from counties all over the state, saying, ‘Do we even have an election? Is there any reason for us to hold an election? From what you’ve told us today, there’s probably no way we can fix it in a short time. So why even vote?’ ” Bergquist said.
Bergquist also directed his attention toward Lee, the panel member who would join Frank at the church later that evening. Lee apologized to Frank for the rudeness of committee members.
“You don’t need to apologize for anybody but yourself,” Bergquist said.
Schwab said Frank wasn’t being honest during the hearing when he claimed the secretary of state had refused to meet with him to review evidence of voter fraud. Schwab said his office provided several opportunities for a meeting and didn’t get a response.
“I hope future presenters who claim fraud in Kansas review our election laws prior to presenting to at least know Kansas has voter ID and signature verification,” Schwab said.
‘Guns and Jesus’
At Community Church, Lee told the crowd that legislators were getting tired with the end of the session.
“We’re a little bit grumpy. Holy Spirit help us,” Lee said. “I was praying in tongues today in the Elections Committee. I was like, ‘I don’t know if you’re Pentecostal, Dr. Frank, but I’m praying for you.’ ”
Lee directed her frustration at Republican leadership in the House who initially resisted calls for a special session last fall to address federal mandates regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Only 19 of the 165 legislators “care about your liberty,” Lee said.
“This is not a popular message with my colleagues, by the way, in the Capitol, because nobody wants to talk about these things, because we don’t want to tell on our own party,” Lee said. “But I’m telling you, we’ve been hijacked.”
Lee encouraged everybody in attendance to figure out who represents them in the Statehouse and start holding them accountable.
“And you let them know, ‘We will fire you,’ ” Lee said. “And then you tell your neighbors and then you tell your coffee group. And you know what? We can’t play anymore, you all. We’re done playing. I am done sitting in sweet little meetings in churches like this.”
She continued: “If you’re not doing your job, you don’t know what to say to your state rep or senator when they come back to your district and tell you how wonderful they are, and they love guns and Jesus. There’s more to liberty than guns and Jesus. But if you’re not holding them accountable, we deserve what we get.”
‘Greatest crime in American history’
Shuey, the retired lieutenant colonel, told the church crowd he flew 350 solo combat missions in Vietnam.
“I don’t like Marxists in my government,” Shuey said. “I tried to shoot as many of them as I could.”
Shuey engaged the crowd with a QAnon theory known as Italygate and fueled by dark money interests.
His story begins like the start of a bad joke: An Italian general, a CIA operative and State Department official walk into the second floor of the U.S. embassy in Rome.
At 11 p.m. on election night, when Trump held a small lead, there was a coordinated effort to halt ballot counting in five states where the results were close, Shuey says without explaining who or how such a thing could be coordinated. Back in Rome, the aforementioned operatives compel an IT worker to hijack voting machines using an encrypted satellite signal and change the outcome. Voting resumed at 3 a.m., and by 6 a.m. Biden was ahead of Trump.
In reality, officials were busy counting a record number of advanced ballots and those cast in densely populated urban centers, both of which favored Biden.
The way Shuey sees it, the 2020 election “was the greatest crime in American history because it stole our country.”
He said “cheating has been going on forever,” and pointed to 1860 as an example of a “fraudulent election.”
Davis, who said she has a master’s degree in biostatistics from the University of Kansas Medical Center and a PhD in epidemiology, told the church crowd that voter registration lists are “dirty and not properly maintained.”
“If the things we are feeding into our electoral process and into our elections is dirty and smells a little bit like the garbage we take out every week, then why do we expect the outcomes from the elections to somehow be this nice, clean-smelling house?” Davis said.
Her big revelation: Seven Kansans with a documented age of 219 years old participated in the 2020 election.
“Tell me how that happens,” Davis said.
Davis Hammett, president of Loud Light, which advocates for voting rights, said the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 required counties to digitize voter registrations, and some counties didn’t previously record birthdays. The software filled in the blanks with a birthdate of Jan. 1, 1800. The seven Kansans referenced by Davis would be legal, eligible voters who haven’t moved in the past 20 years.
“It’s really easy to just make up bullsh*t, and if you have a receptive audience, you can just make it up super fast,” Hammet said. “It’s very time consuming to actually understand how they make that falsehood and then start to debunk why it’s not true.”
‘Blame it on the leaders’
Helmer, one of the four legislators in attendance, said these are desperate times.
People in the Statehouse “think I’m half looney,” Helmer said, and “won’t talk to me.”
“We are here tonight because of President Trump,” Helmer said. “I see it. I hear it. We’re all very concerned. And so what I heard tonight was something that hurt me very bad.”
She was referring to anger being directed at Republicans.
“I’m a Republican,” Helmer said. “I’m about as conservative as you can get. I am a real conservative. I want your vote.”
Helmer said Republicans have “some harsh leaders” who “try to keep us in line.”
“So if you have to,” Helmer said, “blame it on the leaders.”
“Please, dear God, pray for freedom. Pray for conservatism. And don’t leave tonight mad at Republicans,” Helmer said.