Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the presidential election will be “rigged” because of widespread voter fraud is based on a series of myths that the right-wing media has pushed for years -- including the arguments that strict voter ID laws are needed to prevent voter fraud, that dead people are voting, and that there is widespread noncitizen voting.
Trump Has Resurrected A Variety Of Voter Fraud Myths To Claim The Election Will Be “Rigged”
Trump Claimed “People Are Going To Walk In” And “Vote Ten Times” Without Voter ID Laws. During an interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed that without voter ID laws, “people are going to walk in, they're going to vote 10 times maybe.” He cited allegations about fraud in the 2012 election, saying that “when the vote came out, there were some districts who were really shockingly different from what they were anticipated to be.” Trump warned authorities and Republicans to be “very watchful” because “it’s rigged here.” From the August 2 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): Why would you think that the election would be rigged?
DONALD TRUMP: Well I'm looking at all of these decisions coming on down from the standpoint of identification, voter ID. And I'm saying, what do you mean you don't have to have voter ID to now go in and vote? And it's a little bit scary. And I've heard a lot of bad things. I must say, four years ago I was hearing a lot of bad things having to do with the [Mitt] Romney campaign where, when the vote came out, there were some districts who were really shockingly different from what they were anticipated to be. And I've been seeing it and I've been hearing it a lot. But the whole thing with voter ID, identification, I think is really -- I mean people are going to walk in, they're going to vote 10 times maybe. Who knows? They're going to vote 10 times. So I am very concerned and I hope the Republicans are going to be very watchful. But I hope the authorities are going to be very watchful because I want to tell you, I believe it's going to be just like Bernie Sanders -- I said it was rigged. Well, it's rigged here too, believe me. So I just hope the Republicans are going to be very watchful. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 8/2/16]
CBS News: Trump Stoked “Fears Of Widespread Voter Fraud,” Citing Voter Registration Fraud, Dead Voter Fraud, And Noncitizen Voting Fraud. CBS News reported on Trump’s accusations, made during a rally in Wisconsin, that there will be “widespread voter fraud,” that “people that have died 10 years ago are still voting,” and that “illegal immigrants are voting.” Trump also claimed that “one in eight voter registrations is no longer valid” and voiced concerns that people with “inaccurate voter registrations will be voting for someone else next month.” Trump emphasized the potential for noncitizen voter fraud, citing Obama winning “more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 sample,” and questioned “how legitimate all of these elections are.” From the October 17 article:
Donald Trump continued on Monday his claims that the 2016 election is “rigged” against him, stoking fears of widespread voter fraud in an interview and a rally speech.
“They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths and believe me there’s a lot going on,” he told supporters at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “Do you ever hear these people? They say ‘there’s nothing going on.’ People that have died 10 years ago are still voting, illegal immigrants are voting -- I mean, where are the street smarts of some of these politicians?”
On Monday night, Trump told the crowd that voter fraud is “very, very common” and that one in eight voter registrations is no longer valid, numbers that come from a Pew Research study in 2012. He made similar arguments in an interview with Fox News on Monday.
“When you look at the voter fraud, when you look at illegal immigrants voting all over the country, when you look at people that died 10 years ago -- I mean, there is one person that died 21 years ago and that person is still voting,” he said. “Was a Republican now, votes Democrat, which is sort of an interesting phenomena. We have voters all over the country where they are not even citizens of the country and they are voting.”
Trump then suggested that all of those potentially inaccurate voter registrations will be voting for someone else next month.
“Well, if they are going to vote for me we will think about it, right?” he said. “But I have a feeling they aren’t going to vote for me. Of the 1.8 million, 1.8 million is voting for someone else. Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.”
Though Republicans have frequently referenced concerns about voter fraud, especially when crafting legislation to require voter IDs or enforce other voting restrictions, there is no evidence that voter fraud is a widespread problem.
“Non-citizens tend to favor Democrats, to put it mildly. Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 sample,” he said. “You don’t read about this right? They don’t tell you about this – your politicians don’t tell you about this when they tell you how legitimate all of these elections are. They don’t want to tell you about this.” [CBS News, 10/17/16]
Trump Said The “Dishonest And Distorted Media” Are “Rigging The Election.” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted on October 16 that the “election is being rigged by the media, in a coordinated effort with the Clinton campaign” and that the “dishonest and distorted media” is “pushing Crooked Hillary”:
Right-Wing Media Have Pushed Myths About Voter Fraud For Years
Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt: Wisconsin Voter ID Law “Prevents Fraud.” Talking to Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about Wisconsin’s voter ID law, Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt claimed that “it prevents fraud.” From the March 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): I think what he's talking about, in some states, you've got to present some sort of ID before you can vote. Which is fair because when I go to CVS, I got to get out a driver's license if I'm going to buy Benadryl.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Well, it prevents fraud.
DOOCY: What's your reaction?
SCOTT WALKER: Yeah, for us, it is simple. We want to make it easier to vote, but hard to cheat. Our state is -- you look at the facts. Our state has one of the highest voter participation rates in the entire country. It will again on Tuesday, it will again in the fall in the general election. Why? Because we make it easy to vote, but we make it hard to cheat. In our state, you need a driver's license, you can get a state issued ID card for free at our DMV offices. If you're a veteran, you can use your veteran's card. But we make it, so we make it easy to vote. You can vote same day with voter registration. You just gotta have that voter ID along with. But we also make it hard to cheat. And that's the difference. He should look at the facts. [Fox News, Fox and Friends, 3/30/16]
FACT: In-Person Voter Impersonation Fraud -- The Fraud That Strict Voter IDs Prevent -- Is Virtually Nonexistent
The New Yorker: Experts Agree That Voter Impersonation Is “Virtually Non-Existent.” Experts agree that actual incidents of in-person voter fraud -- the type of voter fraud that strict voter ID laws can prevent -- are exceedingly rare and fears of voter fraud have been largely invented as a way to “excite the base,” according to The New Yorker:
[Election law scholar Rick] Hasen says that, while researching “The Voting Wars,” he “tried to find a single case” since 1980 when “an election outcome could plausibly have turned on voter-impersonation fraud.” He couldn't find one. News21, an investigative-journalism group, has reported that voter impersonation at the polls is a “virtually non-existent” problem. After conducting an exhaustive analysis of election-crime prosecutions since 2000, it identified only seven convictions for impersonation fraud. None of those cases involved conspiracy.
Lorraine Minnite, a public-policy professor at Rutgers, collated decades of electoral data for her 2010 book, “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” and came up with some striking statistics. In 2005, for example, the federal government charged many more Americans with violating migratory-bird statutes than with perpetrating election fraud, which has long been a felony. She told me, “It makes no sense for individual voters to impersonate someone. It's like committing a felony at the police station, with virtually no chance of affecting the election outcome.” A report by the Times in 2007 also found election fraud to be rare. During the Bush Administration, the Justice Department initiated a five-year crackdown on voter fraud, but only eighty-six people were convicted of any kind of election crime.
Hasen, who calls von Spakovsky a leading member of “the Fraudulent Fraud Squad,” told me that he respects many other conservative advocates in his area of expertise, but dismisses scholars who allege widespread voter-impersonation fraud. “I see them as foot soldiers in the Republican army,” he says. “It's just a way to excite the base. They are hucksters. They're providing fake scholarly support. They're not playing fairly with the facts. And I think they know it.” [The New Yorker, 10/29/12]
STUDY: Just 31 Cases Of In-Person Voter Fraud Found In More Than 1 Billion Votes. According to a 2014 study conducted by Loyola University law professor Justin Levitt, there were only 31 credible allegations of in-person voter fraud among the more than 1 billion votes cast in “general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014.” And as explained by Levitt, in-person voter fraud is the only type of fraud strict voter ID laws are “designed to stop.” From a August 7, 2014, Washington Post article:
Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you'll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren't designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop.
Instead, requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens. [The Washington Post, 8/6/14, Media Matters, 8/7/14]
Brennan Center For Justice: These Recurring Claims Of Voter Fraud “Simply Do Not Pan Out.” A 2007 article by New York University School of Law's Brennan Center explained that in-person voter fraud is not a legitimate justification for strict voter ID, because voter impersonation is “more rare than getting struck by lightning”:
The most common example of the harm wrought by imprecise and inflated claims of “voter fraud” is the call for in-person photo identification requirements. Such photo ID laws are effective only in preventing individuals from impersonating other voters at the polls -- an occurrence more rare than getting struck by lightning.
By throwing all sorts of election anomalies under the “voter fraud” umbrella, however, advocates for such laws artificially inflate the apparent need for these restrictions and undermine the urgency of other reforms.
Moreover, as with all restrictions on voters, photo identification requirements have a predictable detrimental impact on eligible citizens. Such laws are only potentially worthwhile if they clearly prevent more problems than they create.
Royal Masset, the former political director for the Republican Party of Texas, concisely tied all of these strands together in a 2007 Houston Chronicle article concerning a highly controversial battle over photo identification legislation in Texas. Masset connected the inflated furor over voter fraud to photo identification laws and their expected impact on legitimate voters: “Among Republicans it is an 'article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections,' Masset said. He doesn't agree with that, but does believe that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a dropoff in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote.”
This remarkably candid observation underscores why it is so critical to get the facts straight on voter fraud. The voter fraud phantom drives policy that disenfranchises actual legitimate voters, without a corresponding actual benefit. Virtuous public policy should stand on more reliable supports. [Brennan Center For Justice, 2007]
Voter Fraud Expert Michael McDonald: Isolated Incidents Of Voter Fraud Are “ Little Molehills” That “Get Blown Out Of Proportion Into Mountains.” During an interview with CNN’s Carol Costello, voter fraud expert Michael McDonald emphasized that “the overwhelming number of votes will be cast and recorded correctly.” He noted that the “isolated instances of voter fraud” are “little molehills” that “get blown out of proportion into mountains.” He denounced claims of widespread voter fraud and said “incorrect allegations of in-person voter fraud are used to justify voter ID laws that courts find discriminatory.” From the August 4 edition of CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:
CAROL COSTELLO (HOST): Just tell us how much research you poured into to finding out if there really is a widespread problem with voter fraud in the United States.
MICHAEL MCDONALD: Well, I'd like to start off by just giving a big thank you to all the election officials. They're working hard right now to make sure that everyone has a pleasant voting experience and the elections are going to be conducted in a secure manner. And that said, whenever you have millions of people engage in any activity, you're going to have a couple bumps along the way. That's just human nature. So we shouldn't let those little molehills get blown out of proportion into mountains. Yes there are isolated instances of vote fraud, but upon further examination, most of those allegations turn out to be incorrect. Let me give you an example since we are talking about voter ID as well. One of the sponsors of voter ID Law in North Carolina was accused of voting twice. Election officials went back, looked at the records, and what did they find? They found that his mother had signed on his line of the poll books. So his vote had been -- a false vote had been recorded as him voting twice. In most of the allegations, when we start looking very closely at the allegations, that's the study you reference, when we start looking very closely at these allegations, they just don't pan out. And so to Donald Trump, and anybody else who's very concerned about vote fraud, let me tell you this, that in November, the overwhelming number of votes will be cast and recorded correctly and that we can be assured that the results will be right.
COSTELLO: So Michael, when you say, when you say there are tiny bumps, like give us a perspective. Like how many cases of voter fraud -- true voter fraud did you find in what period of time?
MCDONALD: Well, the study I looked at was a particular state and it looked at sort of these record issues of matching and trying to find double voters. And, again, all of the allegations that we looked at in that particular study appeared to me just to be mistakes and it wasn't a real case of vote fraud. Another study on voter impersonation, not double voting or multiple voting, found 31 allegations -- and these are only allegations -- of vote fraud between 2000 and 2014. Thirty-one out of a billion votes cast. So in order to change the outcome of the election, 31 votes just isn't going to cut it.
COSTELLO: So why do politicians, and it's not just Donald Trump it's other politicians as well, why do they insist that there's widespread voter fraud in this country?
MCDONALD: Well what are the allegations? They first come out and it sounds like there's thousands of people engaged in this activity. And those are the initial stories that come out. And then the further investigation we find out that's not really true. And so we're left with this impression that things are going really wrong but the reality is that the elections are being run really smoothly. There's also unfortunately a political component to this too. Because these allegations are then used to justify laws like voter identification which the courts are now determining that they are discriminatory and that we shouldn't have them in place for our elections.
COSTELLO: Yeah, and just to review, judges in North Dakota, Kansas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas, have softened voter ID laws because they suppressed minority votes. So, when you talk about an election being rigged is this more of an example of an election being rigged than people voting 20 times?
MCDONALD: That's an excellent question. So when I'm talking about rigged elections, I'm talking about the administration of the elections. There's a higher level of manipulation of elections that can occur which is through the laws that set the playing field how the elections will be run. And those rules unfortunately over the history of our country, have suppressed votes at one time or another and have shaped the contours of the electorate. I'm not talking about those laws. What I'm talking about is someone who's going to go in and vote. You can be assured that your vote will be cast and recorded correctly. [CNN, CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, 8/4/16]
PBS: In-Person Voting Fraud Is Rare, Doesn’t Affect Elections. A PBS article about the 2016 election and in-person voter fraud cited professor Lorraine Minnite, who said “voter impersonation is rare because it’s difficult to do on a large-enough scale to tip an election” so it’s “irrational to even try just for one or two more votes.” The article cited several studies showing that “voter impersonation at the ballot box” -- the type of fraud that “voter IDs are designed to prevent” -- “is virtually non-existent.” From the August 20 article:
While fraud can occur, the number of cases is very small and the type that voter IDs are designed to prevent — voter impersonation at the ballot box — is virtually non-existent.
News21, a reporting project affiliated with Arizona State University, in 2012 found 2,068 cases of election fraud nationwide since 2000. Of those, just 10 involved voter impersonation — or one out of every 15 million prospective voters. More common was absentee mail-in ballot fraud, with 491 cases. None affected the outcome of an election.
Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Rutgers University-Camden, says voter impersonation fraud is rare because it’s difficult to do on a large-enough scale to tip an election.
“It’s so irrational to even try just for one or two more votes,” said Minnite, author of “The Myth of Voter Fraud.”
In court cases that temporarily invalidated some of the ID laws, including North Carolina, Wisconsin and North Dakota, election officials could barely cite a case in which a person was charged with in-person voting fraud. [PBS, 8/20/16]
NY Times’ Alex Burns: There Are No “People In A County Courthouse Stuffing Ballots In A Box Or Even Showing Up And Me Saying, Hi, I'm Chris Cuomo. I'm Here To Vote.” The New York Times’ Alex Burns rejected “the kind of voter fraud that people imagine,” in an interview on CNN’s New Day with co-host Chris Cuomo. Burns noted that there’s no “systemic problem with voting” and that incidents of voter fraud are typically “people voting in a jurisdiction where they’re no longer technically registered or they haven't updated their registration, or they're in a primary where they're not supposed to be voting in a primary.” Burns cited the Ohio secretary of state, who told him that “this kind of talk” about voter fraud “takes time away from doing our actual and difficult jobs.” From the October 17 edition of CNN’s New Day:
CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): In terms of the substance of what he's saying, we direct people to the Brennan Center for Justice, 2007. To News 21. To the Philly Inquirer. All of which have vetted the idea of there being rampant fraud at the polls and the conclusion of each and all is it's just not true. What is your take?
JACKIE KUCINICH: Well, right. There's also that study that Loyola did where it found maybe 30 instances of actual voter fraud out of billions. This isn't a thing, but that's not stopping Donald Trump and Mike Pence, frankly, from spreading this. Yesterday on Meet the Press Mike Pence was asked whether they would accept the election results. He said, yes, but almost on the next breath he went back to the fact that this election is being rigged.
CUOMO: Peaceful transfer of power. That's not what you're helping to motivate when you keep spreading doubt about the legitimacy of the process.
KUCINICH: Exactly. To Alisyn's point earlier, they haven't really offered any evidence, and so people are filling in the blanks themselves. That's why you see people quoted in various states that there might be violence. They're going to make sure that people who don't look like them are vetted or that they're going to watch them. It's troubling rhetoric coming out of the Trump campaign, and coming from down on the ground going into election day and let's not forget people are actually voting right now. So, it's not that there might be some fracas at the polls, but this is already happening.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Let's dive into the facts, OK, because as Chris said, there is this organization, this group, News 21, all the top journalism students from universities around the country and they did this exhaustive study to look at one issue for the year. They looked at it over a decade of voter fraud. And they really dove in and here's what they found. You know what's interesting is, yes, there is, there are isolated incidents, Alex. Everybody has an anecdote of some kind. Maybe an urban myth but some anecdote of seeing a bus full of people across a state border but here's what they truly found. Let's put it up for people. 146 million total registered voters. Out of those, there were 2,068 alleged voter fraud cases, OK, so it does happen. It's not bigfoot.&
CUOMO: The allegations have.
CAMEROTA: OK. The allegations happen. And then there were 10 cases of voter impersonation reported. That's what voter ID Is supposed to --
CUOMO: Dead people voting.
CAMEROTA: Sure, so, 10 cases. OK, out of the 146 million people. There's more. They drilled down on Arizona, Ohio, Georgia, Texas, Kansas, that's where attorney generals actually prosecuted cases. So beyond allegations, they prosecuted 38 cases of voter fraud. 38 out of millions. In Arizona there were 13 cases of people prosecuted for double voting. 13. And this is over 10 years, by the way. This isn't one year, over 10 years. Then the Republican National Lawyers Association also looked at it themselves and they found 200 allegations of election fraud, again, over 10 years.
CUOMO: Reported by news outlets.
CAMEROTA: They basically got a compilation of news organizations from around the country they found 200 cases. So, does it ever happen? OK, occasionally it does happen, but it doesn't happen on a national scale.
CUOMO: Doesn't affect the outcome.
CAMEROTA: It would affect the outcome.
ALEX BURNS: Right, and what you see in those numbers as well, is that when it happens it's usually not the kind of voter fraud that people imagine when they think of what happens when somebody steals an election. It's not people in a county courthouse stuffing ballots in a box or even showing up and me saying, hi, I'm Chris Cuomo. I'm here to vote. It's people voting in a jurisdiction where they're no longer technically registered or they haven't updated their registration, or they're in a primary where they're not supposed to be voting in a primary. Each of those infractions is something authorities, of course, ought to look at. But there is simply no indication that there is any kind of systemic problem with voting in this country. I spoke to the Ohio secretary of state yesterday who is a Republican who says we're trying hard to run a fair election here and this kind of talk just it takes time away from doing our actual and difficult jobs. [CNN, New Day, 10/17/16]
STUDY: Voter ID Laws Fail Because There’s “No Difference Between States With And Without Strict Voter ID Requirements.” A study of voter fraud published in Election Law Journal found “no evidence of voter impersonation in contested states or among low income voters, subsets where vote fraud is alleged to be most common.” The study also found “no difference between states with and without same day voter registration (where fraud is again alleged to be the easiest) and no difference between states with and without strict voter ID requirements (where it should be the hardest).” The study concluded that these results indicated that instead of pushing for more voter ID laws, “those concerned with the security of the American electoral system would do better to focus … on issues of equal access, secure and verifiable voting technology, transparent ballot design, and timely and consistent data reporting.” [Election Law Journal, 5/19/14
STUDY: Rate Of Voter Fraud Is “Infinitesimal” And Voter ID Laws Are “A Cure Worse Than The Disease.” A study of voter fraud cases in Arizona, Ohio, Georgia, Texas, and Kansas found no cases of voter impersonation despite “hundreds of allegations” between 2012 and 2016:
Politicians and voting rights advocates continue to clash over whether photo ID and other voting requirements are needed to prevent voter fraud, but a News21 analysis and recent court rulings show little evidence that such fraud is widespread.
A News21 analysis four years ago of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states found that while some fraud had occurred since 2000, the rate was infinitesimal compared with the 146 million registered voters in that 12-year span. The analysis found only 10 cases of voter impersonation, the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID at the polls.
This year, News21 reviewed cases in Arizona, Ohio, Georgia, Texas and Kansas, where politicians have expressed concern about voter fraud and found hundreds of allegations but few prosecutions between 2012 and 2016. Attorneys general in those states successfully prosecuted 38 cases, though other cases may have been litigated at the county level. At least one-third of those cases involved nonvoters, such as elections officials or volunteers. None of the cases prosecuted was for voter impersonation.
Lorraine Minnite, a political scientist at Rutgers University-Camden who wrote a book on the phenomenon in 2010 called “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” said in an interview that she hasn’t seen an uptick in the crime since. “Voter fraud remains rare because it is irrational behavior,” she said. “You’re not likely to change the outcome of an election with your illegal fraudulent vote, and the chances of being caught are there and we have rules to prevent against it.”
“Voter fraud is not a significant problem in the country,” Jennifer Clark of the Brennan Center told News21. “As the evidence that has come out in some recent court cases and reports and basically every analysis that has ever been done has concluded: It is not a significant concern.”
Lorraine Minnite, a political scientist at Rutgers University-Camden who wrote a book on the phenomenon in 2010 called “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” said in an interview that she hasn’t seen an uptick in the crime since. “Voter fraud remains rare because it is irrational behavior,” she said. “You’re not likely to change the outcome of an election with your illegal fraudulent vote, and the chances of being caught are there and we have rules to prevent against it.”
Presidential nominee Donald Trump has said that he was “afraid the election was going to be rigged” without ID laws. “There’s a lot of dirty pool played at the election,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “If you don’t have voter ID, you can just keep voting and voting and voting.”
To vote repeatedly in person on election day – the kind of fraud that Trump worries about – someone would have to steal another voter’s ballot. Minnite, the Rutgers professor, says that’s as difficult as “pickpocketing a cop.”
A voter would need to know names, addresses and other identifying information about whoever they were impersonating, she said. Then they would have to show up to the polling place and pretend to be that other person in front of the same elections officials who had likely seen them vote in their own name. Beyond that, they’d have to hope that nobody in the polling place knew the person they were impersonating.
Given that America’s turnout rates are so comparatively low, the idea of widespread voter fraud just doesn’t make sense, said David Schultz, professor of public policy at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. “There’s this image that somehow, people are clamoring to go to the polls on election day to commit fraud,” he said. “Look at our voting statistics. It just doesn’t bear out.” [News21, 8/20/16]
FACT: Strict Voter ID Laws Are Good At Voter Suppression, Not At Stopping Voter Fraud
STUDY: Voter ID Laws Depress Minority Turnout Similar To “Poll Taxes” And “Literacy Tests.” A study from the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University examined “the effects of voter ID laws on elections” and argued that previous studies that found voter ID laws had “no effect of disenfranchising minorities were conducted before the strictest voter ID laws were adopted.” In contrast, their “nationwide survey of over 50,000 respondents” found “strong evidence suggesting that racial minorities’ turnout is decreased by voter ID laws.” The study likened the effects of voter ID laws to “the impact of measures like poll taxes, literacy tests, residency requirements, and at-large elections which were used by the white majority decades and centuries ago to help deny blacks many basic rights.” [Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, January 2016]
University Of Delaware Study: White People Who Saw “A Photograph Of African-Americans Using Voting Machines ... Expressed Stronger Support For Voter ID Laws.” According to a study from the the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication, white survey respondents who saw an image of black voters were more likely to be in favor of voter ID laws than respondents who were shown an image of white voters. This report followed an earlier study by the same researchers, which “found that support for voter identification laws is strongest among Americans who harbor negative attitudes toward African Americans”:
A newly published study conducted by the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication reveals that seeing a photograph of African Americans using voting machines affected how white respondents answered a survey question about voter ID laws. White survey respondents who saw this image expressed stronger support for voter ID laws than those who saw no image. Seeing an image of white Americans using voting machines did not affect white respondents' support. Research faculty David C. Wilson and Paul Brewer supervised the nationwide study.
“Our findings suggest that public opinion about voter ID laws can be racialized by simply showing images of African American people,” said Wilson. “The resulting increase in support for the laws happens independently of -- even after controlling for-- political ideology and negative attitudes about African Americans.”
[University of Delaware Center for Political Communication, 10/10/14]
Wash. Times: “At Least 1,000 Non-Citizens Registered To Vote During The 2008 And 2012 Elections.” The Washington Times claimed that “voter fraud is real” and cited a watchdog group in Virginia that “found at least 1,000 non-citizens registered to vote during the 2008 and 2012 elections.” From the October 5 article:
Voter fraud is real, however, and is happening now as we prepare to vote in the most important presidential election of our lives.
That effort is to secure the voting system for citizens by making sure only citizens are voting. The Democrats argue it’s “racist” to demand ID at the polls. They know that’s not true, as evidenced by the fact that they don’t demand an end to ID requirements in any other aspect of living our lives. After all, if it’s racist to ask for an ID at a voting booth, why isn’t it so at an airport, or to get into a federal building, or to open a checking account?
Now with 34 days to Election Day, the reality of the continuing seriousness of voter fraud is becoming apparent.
Now in Virginia, another critical swing state, a watchdog group has found at least 1,000 non-citizens registered to vote during the 2008 and 2012 elections, according to PoliZette.
At the time, the Motor Voter Law, pushed by the Clinton administration, was decried as swinging open the door for election fraud, which, when I was on the left and a community organizer when this was implemented, it was jokingly referred to as “expanding the base.”
[The Washington Times, 10/5/16]
For other examples of right-wing media pushing the myth of noncitizen voting, see here.
Fact: Noncitizen Voting Is Extremely Rare And Studies Supporting The Claim That It Happens Are Flawed
CNN’s Drew Griffin: Claims Citing Studies About Noncitizen Voter Fraud Are “Cherry-Picked” And Ignore Methodological Issues. CNN correspondent Drew Griffin examined all the studies by the Trump campaign to substantiate claims of election rigging and found the campaign was “misinterpreting and trying to use these cherry-picked information to conclude the entire system is rigged.” The studies cited had “debatable results” based on small sample sizes that “are being challenged” by other researchers. Griffin emphasized that the author of one study “has no proof [voter fraud] has ever happened.” From the October 17 edition of CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront:
ERIN BURNETT (HOST): Pretty terrifying when you heard what that man had to say. You know, Drew Griffin investigated the claims here. The claims of voter fraud. And that's a pretty, you know, this is what Donald Trump keeps saying, it's rigged, it's rigged, they're going to have voter fraud in Philadelphia, in Chicago. Very specific. What did you find?
DREW GRIFFIN: We investigated their claims that they sent to us, actual cases of voter fraud. They happen. They're extremely rare. There's no proof of any kind of vast conspiracy or an attempt to rig an election. And today, several Republican officials I talked to from Florida to Philadelphia, to out west, believe this attempt to smear an election's validity is wrong, without factual basis. What the Trump campaign is doing, they're citing tiny cases of individual voter fraud. They're citing a couple of studies, one with debatable results, others they are misinterpreting and trying to use these cherry-picked information to conclude the entire system is rigged. It is not. We asked the Trump campaign for its proof. They sent this email today. This details all the facts alleged by them about fraud and we checked them out. The big one is this study. It's done by researchers at Old Dominion University that shows noncitizens voting in large enough numbers in some areas could affect very tight races. I talked to the author today. He admitted his data, and therefore, results, are being challenged. He admits the sample size is small, but the author tells us he stands by his study until proven otherwise and said, yes, noncitizens voting could sway a close race. He has no proof it's ever happened. [CNN, Erin Burnett OutFront, 10/17/16]
Mother Jones: “Sensational-Sounding Allegations” Of Noncitizen Voting “Dissolved Upon Investigation.” A Mother Jones article examined multiple studies that all concluded that “the rate of voter fraud in American elections is close to zero.” The article noted the investigation of fraudulent voting in 2004 by the American Center for Voting Rights, which examined “charges involv[ing] sensational-sounding allegations of … voting by felons and noncitizens” and found that “in virtually every case they dissolved upon investigation.” From the July 2012 article:
That's not to say that there's none at all. In a country of 300 million you'll find a bit of almost anything. But multiple studies taking different approaches have all come to the same conclusion: The rate of voter fraud in American elections is close to zero.
In her 2010 book, The Myth of Voter Fraud, Lorraine Minnite tracked down every single case brought by the Justice Department between 1996 and 2005 and found that the number of defendants had increased by roughly 1,000 percent under Ashcroft. But that only represents an increase from about six defendants per year to 60, and only a fraction of those were ever convicted of anything. A New York Times investigation in 2007 concluded that only 86 people had been convicted of voter fraud during the previous five years. Many of those appear to have simply made mistakes on registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, and more than 30 of the rest were penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races for judge or sheriff. The investigation found virtually no evidence of any organized efforts to skew elections at the federal level.
Another set of studies has examined the claims of activist groups like Thor Hearne's American Center for Voting Rights, which released a report in 2005 citing more than 100 cases involving nearly 300,000 allegedly fraudulent votes during the 2004 election cycle. The charges involved sensational-sounding allegations of double-voting, fraudulent addresses, and voting by felons and noncitizens. But in virtually every case they dissolved upon investigation. Some of them were just flatly false, and others were the result of clerical errors. Minnite painstakingly investigated each of the center's charges individually and found only 185 votes that were even potentially fraudulent. [Mother Jones, July 2012]
STUDY: Rates Of Noncitizens Voting Are Low And Occur When Noncitizens “Are Confused About Their Eligibility.” A News21 study of “2,068 alleged election-fraud cases” found only “56 cases of noncitizens voting” from 2000 through 2012. Elections expert David Schultz described voter fraud as “an insignificant aspect of American elections.” The investigation of noncitizen voting found that “noncitizens sometimes register to vote or cast votes because they are confused about their eligibility” and denounced voter ID laws “as a way of disenfranchising minorities.” [News21, 8/12/12]
Wash. Post: The Richman-Earnest Study On Noncitizen Voting Was Methodologically Challenged. The Washington Post discussed how right-wing media seized on a study by political scientists Jesse Richman and David Earnest that appeared to “confirm conservatives’ worst fears about voter fraud.” However, “a number of academics and commentators … expressed skepticism about the paper’s assumptions and conclusions.” New York Times columnist Nate Cohn criticized their “use of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study data to make inferences about the non-citizen voting population.” The article also emphasized that methodological problems with the survey data may have resulted in “a substantial number of self-reported non-citizens inaccurately reported their (non)citizenship status”:
A recent Monkey Cage piece by political scientists Jesse Richman and David Earnest, which suggested that non-citizen voting could decide the 2014 Election, received considerable media attention over the weekend. In particular, columns such as Breitbart.com’s “Study: Voting by Non-Citizens Tips Balance for Democrats” and the National Review’s “Jaw-Dropping Study Claims Large Numbers of Non-Citizens Vote in U.S” cited results from the authors’ forthcoming Electoral Studies article to confirm conservatives’ worst fears about voter fraud in the United States.
A number of academics and commentators have already expressed skepticism about the paper’s assumptions and conclusions, though. In a series of tweets, New York Times columnist Nate Cohn focused his criticism on Richman et al’s use of Cooperative Congressional Election Study data to make inferences about the non-citizen voting population. That critique has some merit, too. The 2008 and 2010 CCES surveyed large opt-in Internet samples constructed by the polling firm YouGov to be nationally representative of the adult citizen population. Consequently, the assumption that non-citizens, who volunteered to take online surveys administered in English about American politics, would somehow be representative of the entire non-citizen population seems tenuous at best.
Perhaps a bigger problem with utilizing CCES data to make claims about the non-citizen voting in the United States is that some respondents might have mistakenly misreported their citizenship status on this survey (e.g. response error). For, as Richman et al. state in their Electoral Studies article, “If most or all of the ‘non-citizens’ who indicated that they voted were in fact citizens who accidentally misstated their citizenship status, then the data would have nothing to contribute concerning the frequency of non-citizen voting.” In fact, any response error in self-reported citizenship status could have substantially altered the authors’ conclusions because they were only able to validate the votes of five respondents who claimed to be non-citizen voters in the 2008 CCES.
It turns out that such response error was common for self-reported non-citizens in the 2010-2012 CCES Panel Study — a survey that re-interviewed 19,533 respondents in 2012 who had currently participated in the 2010 CCES. The first table below, for instance, shows that nearly one-fifth of CCES panelists who said that they were not American citizens in 2012 actually reported being American citizens when they were originally surveyed for the 2010 CCES. Since it’s illogical for non-citizens in 2012 to have been American citizens back in 2010, it appears that a substantial number of self-reported non-citizens inaccurately reported their (non)citizenship status in the CCES surveys. [The Washington Post, 10/27/14]
Political Scientist Michael Tesler: Study's Reliance On “Non-Citizens” Who Previously Reported That They Were Citizens “Raises Important Doubts About [The] Conclusions.” Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler questioned the Richman-Earnest study's “methodological challenges” in a blog in The Washington Post, such as the possibility that noncitizens may have misreported their citizenship status. Tesler noted that many self-reported noncitizens in 2012 reported being citizens in 2010, indicating a high rate of response error “which raises important doubts about their conclusions”:
[Forty-one] percent of self-reported non-citizen voters in the 2012 CCES reported being citizens back in 2010. The table goes on to show that 71 percent of respondents, who said that they were both 2012 non-citizens and 2010 voters, had previously reported being citizens of the United States in the 2010 CCES. With the authors' extrapolations of the non-citizen voting population based on a small number of validated votes from self-reported non-citizens (N = 5), this high frequency of response error in non-citizenship status raises important doubts about their conclusions. [The Washington Post, 10/27/14]
Rudy Giuliani: “Dead People Generally Vote For Democrats Rather Than Republicans.” In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, frequent Fox News guest Rudy Giuliani resurrected the myth that deceased people vote in large numbers, claiming “dead people generally vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.” He recalled a case “where 720 dead people voted in Chicago in the 1982 election” and said that “in [his] own election about 60 dead people voted.” He claimed Democrats “control the polling places” and “they leave dead people on the rolls and then they pay people to vote for those dead people, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine times.” From the October 16 edition of CNN’s State of the Union.
JAKE TAPPER (HOST): Why does [Donald Trump] call for people to go to elections, to go to polling places to be election monitors? Why does he say “if I lose Pennsylvania, it will be because it's stolen”? Pennsylvania, a state that hasn’t gone Republican since 1988?
RUDY GIULIANI: There are a few places and not many in the swing states, there are a few places where they have been notorious for stealing votes, Pennsylvania, Chicago, there have been places where a lot of cheating has gone on over the years. I know that from my own knowledge, of bussing people in from Camden. When I ran for mayor of New York City, the first time, some people voted eight and ten times and the second time I had firefighters and police officers outside checking on the buses so we take down the number of the bus, the bus that voted ten times and then we wouldn't let the bus vote again. When I asked Randy Levine who is now president of the Yankees, who did this for me, I said how much cheating did we stop, he said I think we stopped about 75 percent of it, and we're still going to have to give them about 25,000 votes. I'm sorry, dead people generally vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.
TAPPER: So he's not talking about elections being stolen except in some cases when he is talking about elections being stolen?
GIULIANI: You want me to tell you the election in Philadelphia and Chicago is going to be fair? I would have to be a moron to say that. I would have to dislearn (sic) everything I learned in 40 years of being a prosecutor.
TAPPER: The Republican Party in Philadelphia would disagree with you. They looked into the allegations from 2012 and they said there was nothing irregular in what happened. Yes there were areas where people only voted for Obama, just like in Utah there were places that only voted for Romney.
GIULIANI: Maybe there are situations in which it's right. I remember a case where I was associate attorney general where 720 dead people voted in Chicago in the 1982 election. I remember in my own election about 60 dead people voted. So I can't sit here and tell you that they don't cheat. And I know because they control the polling places in these areas. There are no Republicans. It's very hard to get people there who will challenge votes. So what they do is they leave dead people on the rolls and then they pay people to vote for those dead people, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine times. [CNN, State of the Union, 10/16/16]
FACT: Claims Of Dead Voter Fraud Are Methodologically Flawed And Actual Instances Of Such Fraud Are Exceedingly Uncommon
STUDY: Voter Fraud Claims Based On Anecdotal Evidence Are Flawed, Empirical Results Show No Dead Voters In 2006 Election. A study published in Social Science Quarterly noted that while “there is no shortage of allegations concerning election fraud,” these claims are often “based in large part on anecdotal evidence, unsubstantiated assertions, or the study of reported complaints.” This study created “a general methodology to study contemporary election fraud” and applied it to the 2006 general election in Georgia. Researchers found “no evidence that election fraud was committed under the auspices of deceased registrants” despite claims to the contrary. [Social Science Quarterly, January 2012]
Justin Levitt: Claims Of Dead Voter Fraud Are “Plagued By Recurring Methodological Errors.” Justin Levitt, at the time an attorney for the Brennan Center for Justice, testified before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration about the “recurring methodological errors” that plague many of the claims of voter fraud, including claims of dead voters. He argued that reports of voter fraud that “entail the trappings of science” are “particularly toxic” because they “seem more conclusive than they actually are.” These studies often involve “efforts to match computerized voter rolls” to other computerized rolls, “such as registries of the deceased” and “the results are then usually trumpeted as conclusive evidence of so many dead voters.” Levitt emphasized the “methodological concerns with such matching efforts, including both the quality of the underlying lists and the particular protocol used in matching list to list” and called it “a mistake to draw final conclusions from these sorts of matching exercises.” From his written testimony (citations removed):
Many Allegations of Fraud Are Also Plagued By Recurring Methodological Errors
One subset of the reports of alleged fraud is particularly toxic because, on first blush, these reports appear to entail the trappings of science, and therefore seem more conclusive than they actually are. Allegations of this sort rely on efforts to match computerized voter rolls either to other computerized voter rolls or to computerized lists of ineligible individuals, such as registries of the deceased; such efforts usually involve an attempt to match names and dates of birth from one list to another. A variant involves the attempt to screen voter rolls against property or zoning records. The results are then usually trumpeted as conclusive evidence of so many dead voters, or double voters, or voters rendered ineligible because of conviction, or voters from vacant lots.
There are common methodological concerns with such matching efforts, including both the quality of the underlying lists and the particular protocol used in matching list to list. We have reviewed these errors at length in several publications, including The Truth About Voter Fraud. Even without an error, however, it is nevertheless a mistake to draw final conclusions from these sorts of matching exercises. As Professor Michael McDonald and I demonstrate in a forthcoming article for the peer-reviewed Election Law Journal, elementary statistics confirms that in any substantial pool, it is quite common to find two different individuals who share the same name and date of birth. When comparing one list of millions of voters to another list of millions of ineligible individuals, it should not be surprising to find hundreds of perfect “matches” that actually represent different individuals, known to record-linkage experts as “false positives.” The incidence of such matches reveals statistics at work, not fraud. [Testimony Given Before U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, 3/12/08]
CNN’s Drew Griffin: There Is No Evidence Of Systematic Dead Voter Fraud And Isolated Examples Skew Republican. Responding to claims from Rudy Giuliani alleging dead people vote for Democrats, CNN correspondent Drew Griffin reviewed all the evidence and found “six to seven dead people have been voting by mail … in elections where 2 million people have cast their ballots.” Furthermore, in Colorado, the example the Trump campaign used, the secretary of state’s office informed Griffin that “most of these mail-in ballots… were mailed to homes that were traditionally Republican registered.” From the October 17 edition of CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront:
ERIN BURNETT (HOST): This is the issue you mentioned. Dead people voting. True here for Democrats?
DREW GRIFFIN: As evidence Trump's campaign pointed us to Colorado where it is true dead people have voted. According to the secretary of state, six to seven dead people have been voting by mail in the last several elections. Six to seven people in elections where 2 million people have cast their ballots. The secretary of state's office says the minute they found out about it, they began re-scrubbing the system to try to eliminate even the possibility for fraud here, but, again, it's just six to seven people, Erin, and as an aside, the secretary of state's office tells me that most of these mail-in ballots, they were mail-in ballots, were mailed to homes that were traditionally Republican registered. [CNN, Erin Burnett OutFront, 10/17/16]
Brennan Center: “Allegations Of Voter Fraud” By “Dead Voters In Upstate New York” Turned Out To Be About People Who Were “Not Dead Yet.” Michael Waldman, the executive director, and Justin Levitt, an attorney, both for the Brennan Center, wrote an article denouncing “allegations of voter fraud” as “scare stories [that] abound on the Internet and on editorial pages, and they quickly become accepted wisdom.” They emphasized that “evidence of actual fraud by individual voters is painfully skimpy.” They debunked claims of “dead voters in Upstate New York,” noting that “when reporters looked into names on the list, it turned out that the voters were, to quote Monty Python, ‘not dead yet’”:
Allegations of voter fraud—someone sneaking into the polls to cast an illicit vote—have been pushed in recent years by partisans seeking to justify proof-of-citizenship and other restrictive ID requirements as a condition of voting. Scare stories abound on the Internet and on editorial pages, and they quickly become accepted wisdom.
But the notion of widespread voter fraud, as these prosecutors found out, is itself a fraud. Firing a prosecutor for failing to find wide voter fraud is like firing a park ranger for failing to find Sasquatch. Where fraud exists, of course, it should be prosecuted and punished. (And politicians have been stuffing ballot boxes and buying votes since senators wore togas; Lyndon Johnson won a 1948 Senate race after his partisans famously “found” a box of votes well after the election.) Yet evidence of actual fraud by individual voters is painfully skimpy.
Before and after every close election, politicians and pundits proclaim: The dead are voting, foreigners are voting, people are voting twice. On closer examination, though, most such allegations don’t pan out. Consider a list of supposedly dead voters in Upstate New York that was much touted last October. Where reporters looked into names on the list, it turned out that the voters were, to quote Monty Python, “not dead yet.” [Brennan Center, 3/29/2007]
Brennan Center: No Proof That Dead People Are Fraudulently Voting In Large Numbers. According to the Brennan Center for Justice’s The Truth About Voter Fraud, most cases of alleged voter fraud by dead people are not true. While there are some cases “in which documentation shows that votes have been cast in the names of voters who have died before the vote was submitted,” the more common answer is that there is a clerical error or people with the same name could have been mixed up:
Allegations of “dead voters” are also popular, not least for the entertaining pop culture references to be found in the headlines: “Among Voters in New Jersey, G.O.P. Sees Dead People,”82 for example, or “Dead Man Voting.” After further investigation, however, these allegedly dead voters often turn up perfectly healthy.
There are a handful of known cases in which documentation shows that votes have been cast in the names of voters who have died before the vote was submitted.
Here, too, flawed matches of lists from one place (death records) to another (voter rolls) are often responsible for misinformation. Sometimes the interpretation is flawed: two list entries under the same name indicate different individuals. Sometimes the lists themselves are flawed: as Hilde Stafford discovered in 2006, individuals who are in fact quite spry are occasionally listed as deceased on the Social Security Administration’s master files. And sometimes, because of clerical error by election workers or voters or both, an individual is marked as voting when she did not in fact cast a ballot, or is marked as voting under the wrong person’s name. For example, despite having died in 1997, Alan J. Mandel was alleged to have voted in 1998. On further investigation, Alan J. Mandell (two “l”s), who was very much alive and voting at the time, explained that local election workers simply checked the wrong name off of the list. Indeed, a 2007 investigation of about 100 “dead voters” in Missouri revealed that every single purported case was properly attributed either to a matching error, a problem in the underlying data, or a clerical error by elections officials or voters.
In other circumstances, the match is accurate but reveals nothing illegal about the vote: the voter has died, yes, but after casting her ballot. [Brennan Center, The Truth About Voter Fraud, accessed 10/17/16]
The Federalist’s John Gibbs: “More And More Cases Of Voter Fraud Are Beginning To Surface.” Federalist contributor John Gibbs warned of “more and more cases of voter fraud [that] are beginning to surface.” He argued that “it would be silly to assume cases that have been discovered are the only cases of fraud” and used a Pew Research report that “one in eight voter registrations are ‘significantly inaccurate or no longer valid’” to estimate that there may be “a stunning 18 million invalid voter registrations on the books.” Gibbs emphasized that “numbers of this scale obviously provide ripe opportunity for fraud”:
Yet as the election approaches, more and more cases of voter fraud are beginning to surface. In Colorado, multiple instances were found of dead people attempting to vote. Stunningly, “a woman named Sara Sosa who died in 2009 cast ballots in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.” In Virginia, it was found that nearly 20 voter applications were turned in under the names of dead people.
In Texas, authorities are investigating criminals who are using the technique of “vote harvesting” to illegally procure votes for their candidates. “Harvesting” is the practice of illegally obtaining the signatures of valid voters in order to vote in their name without their consent for the candidate(s) the criminal supports.
These are just some instances of voter fraud we know about. It would be silly to assume cases that have been discovered are the only cases of fraud. Indeed according to a Pew Research report from February 2012, one in eight voter registrations are “significantly inaccurate or no longer valid.” Since there are 146 million Americans registered to vote, this translates to a stunning 18 million invalid voter registrations on the books. Further, “More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters, and approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.” Numbers of this scale obviously provide ripe opportunity for fraud. [The Federalist, 10/13/16]
For more right-wing media claims of voter registration fraud, see here.
FACT: Voter Registration Fraud Is Rare And Often Misidentified
STUDY: Complex Voter Registration Laws Spur Clerical Mistakes That Are “Wrongly Identified As ‘Fraud.’” A study by Columbia University Professor Lorraine Minnite found that the increasing complexity of voter registration laws makes “voter mistakes” and “clerical errors” more likely and that such mistakes are often “wrongly identified as ‘fraud.’” Furthermore, the study concluded that “voter fraud is extremely rare” and that often reports of voter fraud were “unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error.” [Project Voter, 03/2007]
Brennan Center Found No Instances Of Voter Registration Fraud Resulting In “An Attempt To Cast A Fraudulent Vote.” Justin Levitt testified before the Senate on the issue of voter fraud and reported that while “occasionally, and now more rarely there are reports of fraudulent registration forms - usually involving rogue workers,” the Brennan Center found “no recent substantiated case in which such registration fraud has resulted in an attempt to cast a fraudulent vote.” From his written testimony (citations omitted):
Some of these post-election reports actually do present worrisome allegations of fraud - but only rarely do they involve allegations of in-person impersonation fraud. Instead, they allege schemes involving fraudulent absentee ballots;or absentee voters who have been coerced; or conspiracies to buy votes; or efforts to tamper with ballots or machines or counting systems. Occasionally, and now more rarely, there are reports of fraudulent registration forms - usually involving rogue workers hoping to cheat nonprofit organizations out of an honest effort to register real citizens. We are aware of no recent substantiated case in which such registration fraud has resulted in an attempt to cast a fraudulent vote. All of these reports should be investigated, and any wrongdoing should not be condoned. Yet they too should not be confused with in-person impersonation fraud. [Testimony Given Before U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, 3/12/08]
NRO: Early Voting “Inevitably Increases The Potential For Fraud.” National Review’s John Fund warned of the dangers of expanded early voting, claiming that longer voting times results in “fewer election observers to monitor the actual casting of ballots [which] inevitably increases the potential for fraud.” The article cites Richard Smolka, who claimed early voting results in “a much larger proportion of votes being cast in an uncontrolled environment.” Fund called for restrictions on early voting, claiming “studies have shown it hasn’t increased overall voter turnout”:
How is early voting changing our campaigns? They are increasing their costs and difficulty. Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist and adviser to gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, says of early voting: “Clearly it changes the whole way we campaign. It used to be you would build a whole campaign around Election Day.” Richard Smolka, an American University academic who published a newsletter for election officials for 40 years until his death last year, mourned the fact that early voting had made campaigns more costly and more complicated. Smolka cogently identified one of the main reasons so many state legislatures have approved early voting: “It’s incumbency protection,” he said. “It takes more money and more organization to deal with a longer voting period. It exacerbates their advantages.”
Having fewer election observers to monitor the actual casting of ballots inevitably increases the potential for fraud. Even diehard opponents of voter-ID laws at polling places point out the dangers of fraud in the casting of absentee, by-mail ballots. (Though they acknowledge this growing risk of fraud, they continue to support the passage of early-voting laws that often involve the broader use of absentee ballots.)
Smolka, the election-newsletter publisher, noted that absentee voting worried many of the election officials for whom he wrote: “You have a much larger proportion of votes being cast in an uncontrolled environment. The ballots are out there, and there’s nobody watching.”
Other states aren’t quite as lax as Colorado, but the notion of having partisan election workers chasing down ballots should concern everyone. In Florida, the state Democratic party urges their supporters to request an absentee ballot; many of these voters then receive an offer from the party to have a worker come by, pick up the ballot in person, and return it to the elections office. Mark Alan Siegel, the former chairman of Palm Beach County’s Democratic Party, lamented that absentee voting “used to be a game we lost.” Now, he told the Sun-Sentinel, “it’s a game we win.”
But do we want to make our most important democratic decisions even more of “a game”? Consider that for all of the hullabaloo about early voting, studies have shown it hasn’t increased overall voter turnout. Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, notes turnout is down even in states that have made it easier to vote through Election Day registration or early voting. [National Review, 10/19/14]
For more examples of right-wing media claims of early voting fraud, see here.
FACT: Early Voting Is Safe And Vital To Voting Rights
Experts: Early Voting Restrictions Disproportionately Impact Non-Whites. An MSNBC article on early voting restrictions in North Carolina cited two top voting scholars, Ted Allen and Paul Gronke, who testified in a lawsuit against the laws because they suppressed legitimate votes. They argued that “the measure would make it harder to vote and that its impact would be felt disproportionately by non-whites.” Gronke’s study of early voting decline in 2012 in Florida showed that “after Florida cut back on early voting, its population of early voters became less black, and more white.” A Democratic National Committee study of the impact of a similar law in Ohio in 2004 found “wait times can dampen turnout.” From the April 2014 article:
If the cuts to early voting in North Carolina’s restrictive voting law had been in effect in 2012, Election Day wait times would have risen dramatically, a significant number of would-be voters would have given up in frustration—and African-American voters would have been hit hardest.
That’s according to two top voting scholars, whose testimony in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the measure was released Thursday by the ACLU, one of the groups leading the effort.
The law’s challengers, including the U.S. Justice Department, allege that it violates the Voting Rights Act, which bars racial discrimination in voting. The expert testimony of Ted Allen of Ohio State and Paul Gronke of Reed College is a key part of establishing both that the measure would make it harder to vote and that its impact would be felt disproportionately by non-whites.
The experience of Ohio in 2004 – when some voters in predominantly Democratic areas waited ten hours or more to vote – shows how wait times can dampen turnout. A DNC study estimated that 174,000 people left in frustration as a result of the lines.
In separate testimony, Gronke, a political scientist who is among the country’s leading experts on early voting, calculated that early voting turnout declined by 10.7% in Florida in 2012 after the state eliminated several days of early voting, hitting black voters hardest. “After Florida cut back on early voting, its population of early voters became less black, and more white,” Gronke writes. [MSNBC, 4/17/14]
League Of Women Voters: “Anti-Fraud Is A Guise” To Pass Restrictions On Early Voting “That Are Really Meant To Make It More Difficult For People To Vote.” When Florida “passed a law that curtails early voting” it sparked protests from “civic organizations that register” voters like the League of Women Voters, which “announced it would terminate its voter registration program in Florida as a result of the law.” The league denounced the law and claimed that “anti-fraud is a guise in trying to pass these voter suppression laws that are really meant to make it more difficult for people to vote”:
Inhibiting Voter Registration
There were approximately 213 million citizens eligible to vote in the 2008 elections; yet just 186 million were registered to vote. While civic activists of all political stripes work to increase the number of registered voters, there is a growing, organized right-wing effort to discourage certain eligible voters from registering.
In May 2011, Florida passed a law that curtails early voting and forces third-party voter registration organizations to turn in registration cards in 48 hours under penalty of heavy fines, leading to protests from civic organizations that register tens of thousands of voters. The League of Women Voters promptly announced that it would terminate its voter registration program in Florida as a result of the law. The president of the League’s St. Petersburg branch contended, “Anti-fraud is a guise in trying to pass these voter suppression laws that are really meant to make it more difficult for people to vote.” The ACLU and Project Vote are currently challenging the law, contending that it violates the federal Voting Rights Act. [Right Wing Watch, 2011]
Fox Host Says The Election Is “Rigged”: “It’s Already Happened, To A Certain Extent.” Fox Host David Asman argued that election rigging has “already happened, to a certain extent,” pointing to Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe allowing felons to vote in Virginia. Asman stressed that “200,000 votes is nothing to sniff about” and that “you can argue that already in open, in daylight, [the election] has been rigged in Hillary’s favor.” From the August 2 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:
SANDRA SMITH (CO-HOST): All right. “I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged.” What do you make of [Trump] pushing this narrative?
DAVID ASMAN (CO-HOST): Well it's already happened, to a certain extent. I mean look what happened in Virginia. Terry McAuliffe, a lifelong Clinton ally, allowed 200,000 ex-cons, felons, to suddenly become voters in the election. I mean 200,000 votes is nothing to sniff about. I mean that -- you can argue that already in open, in daylight, it has been rigged in Hillary's favor by at least the allies of Hillary Clinton around the nation. That's just one example. I would like to hear -- sometimes you put something out there, he doesn't have all the facts to back it up. And then he gets the facts later. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 8/2/16]
FACT: No, It’s Not, And Claims Of Rigging Are Detrimental To American Democracy.
Presidential Historian Julian Zelizer: “It’s Virtually Impossible In 2016 To Rig An Entire Election.” CNN”s Alisyn Camerota interviewed two expert presidential historians, Julian Zelizer and Douglas Brinkley, and asked how “hard” it would be to “rig a national presidential election.” Zelizer said that while “we’ve had corruption” in the 19th century, “it's virtually impossible in 2016 to rig an entire election.” Douglas Brinkley called “the grandiose statement … that the election is rigged” “bogus” and said election rigging claims are “anti-democratic” and “anti-American.” He denounced such claims as “disingenuous and anti-historical.” From the October 17 edition of CNN’s New Day:
ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): In our 240 year history, have we had rigged presidential elections and how hard would it be to rig a national presidential election?
JULIAN ZELIZER: We've had corruption. In the 19th century there was a lot of corruption in different states and different cities. There's been controversies when elections were contested and decided in Congress, which was in 1824. But it's virtually impossible in 2016 to rig an entire election. It's decentralized. It's fragmented. And there's very little evidence that this could happen.
CAMEROTA: OK. So let's unpack some of that, because that's what they're out on the campaign trail saying. So Professor Zelizer, what about what Newt said, that no serious historian doubts that Illinois and Texas were stolen. What's your response?
ZELIZER: Well, actually, that's not true. In 1960 in Illinois, there's a lot of evidence that Republicans stole tickets -- stole votes downstate, so in some ways it would balance out. And in Texas it's also unclear that it threw the election. There were actually recounts in Illinois in 1960. And they didn't find that there was enough fraud to throw the election. So it's an undetermined issue but historians don't agree that the election was thrown that way.
CAMEROTA: Douglas, what about what Rudy said there, that from his own experience, with his own election, that he saw people being bused in to places where they shouldn't have been voting.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Well that's Rudy's own experience, I wasn't there. What I can tell you is there is voting suppression and irregularities all throughout American history. I mean the whole story of the South was voter suppression, having Jim Crow laws, voter literacy tests. Jimmy Carter first ran for Senate in Georgia on a rigged election. They brought out a cemetery vote when he ran for state senator. He challenged in the court and got it reversed. So history's replete with illegal things going on during elections. But at this point in the 21st century, to make the grandiose statement like Trump is that the election is rigged is bogus. It's anti-democratic spirit, it's anti-American at its core. That there may be problems in some cities we've got to watch, we're going to have to have more watchdogs out there, yes. But what Trump is saying is disingenuous and anti-historical. [CNN, New Day, 10/17/16]
CNN's Brian Stelter: Media Should “Instill Confidence” In Election Following Trump's “Biggest Lie” That It Is “Rigged.” CNN’s Brian Stelter called claims of a “massive conspiracy” of election rigging “Trump’s biggest lie” and warned that “the real danger is that when Trump lies to his supporters about the others who are trying to steal the election, some of his supporters believe him.” Stelter lauded “pro-democracy” journalists who denounced “Trump’s claims about vote rigging” and called on the rest of the media to “instill confidence in our election system” by telling Americans about “phone banks or online tools on Election Day … to report possible fraud or voter intimidation” and issuing “frequent reminders that voter fraud is rare and that it is investigated and prosecuted.” From the October 16 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources:
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Donald Trump’s biggest lie is about the election itself, the integrity of the election. He is alleging a massive conspiracy, thereby creating a massive challenge for the news media. Trump has been planting seeds for over a year, warning supporters not to trust the government, the polls, or the media because it's all rigged, he says.
STELTER: The first couple times that he said this, it was news. It was very disturbing news. It got a lot of attention. But over time, the repetition, Trump's lies about election rigging, have become a form of background noise, more of the same. And this is a propaganda technique, whether Trump knows it or not. If you say something often enough, if you plant enough seeds, people start to wonder, will my vote matter? Will it actually count?
STELTER: We as a country cannot allow ourselves to become numb to this. We as a media cannot shrug it off as old news. Because the real danger here is that when Trump lies to his supporters about the others who are trying to steal the election, some of his supporters believe him.
STELTER: This is the whole ballgame, and this is what I really want to say. I'm proud that journalists are standing up individually, speaking up in ways that we rarely see. They're not anti-Trump, they're pro-democracy. Julie Pace writing for the AP today, says Trump's claims about vote rigging,“made without evidence, undercuts the essence of American democracy.” Ashley Parker, writing for The New York Times, says we haven’t seen a “candidate from one of the two major parties try to cast doubt on the entire democratic process and system of government since the brink of the Civil War.” I know Trump supporters tend to dismiss those sources. So that’s why conservative journalists have to play a role here, and conservative commentators too. On the day after President Obama’s reelection, Sean Hannity accepted the results.
SEAN HANNITY (VIDEO CLIP): And tonight, the 2012 race for the White House has been called in Obama's favor. … And the voice and the will of the people were heard and felt last night. America wanted Barack Obama for four more years and now we have him. By the way, good luck with that.
STELTER: Let's remember that sound bite. Will Hannity accept the result if Clinton prevails three weeks from now? Will he?
What’s happening right now is a test. It's a test for our voting system, run by the states, by the way, not the federal government. Our voting system is run by Republicans and Democrats, with thousands of volunteers and layers of oversight. When there’s voter fraud, when it rarely happens, it is investigated. So it's a test for our system, but what's happening is also a test for journalism.
There is a lot the media can do to instill confidence in our election system. This might include phone banks or online tools on Election Day,giving people easy ways to report possible fraud or voter intimidation. This should also include frequent reminders that voter fraud is rare and that it is investigated and prosecuted. I think right now, in this dangerous moment, we have an obligation to you, the audience, because, well actually, Trump has peddled this stuff before. On the night President Obama was reelected, Trump threw a tantrum on Twitter. He said, “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!” The next day he tweeted four words that we’ve all come to know, look at this. He wrote, “We have to make America great again!” Mr. Trump, think of your children. America is great partly because everyone accepts the results of elections, for decades in the past and hopefully for decades to come. Inventing a conspiracy theory is no way to make America great again. [CNN, Reliable Sources, 10/16/16]
Republican Ohio Secretary Of State: False Claims Of “Rigged” Election Are “Irresponsible” Because “Our Election System” Is “One Of The Bedrocks Of American Democracy.” In an interview with CNN’s Carol Costello, Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted refuted Trump’s claims of election rigging, calling them “irresponsible,” and claimed that “there's just no justification for concern about widespread voter fraud.” He said “our election system” is “one of the bedrocks of American democracy” and “we should not question… the legitimacy of it” because “it works very well.” From the October 17 edition of CNN’s CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:
CAROL COSTELLO (HOST): It's really great to have you here, because I really think what you're about to say is so important. You are in charge of the election process in the state of Ohio. What do you tell to constituents like Bryan there about the system, about the institutions of government?
JON HUSTED: Well, I'll say a couple things. First of all, I can reassure Donald Trump I am in charge of elections in Ohio, and they're not going to be rigged. I'll make sure of that. But to people like the gentleman you just spoke to, look, I understand the frustration that they have with our institutions, because our institutions have let them down over the course of the last 30 years. Times have gotten tougher for a lot of people who've seen their incomes drop during a period where many people have gotten very wealthy, and so they're frustrated by those kinds of things. But our institutions, like our election system, is one of the bedrocks of American democracy. We should not question it or the legitimacy of it. It works very well. In places like Ohio, we make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. We have a bipartisan system of elections. Frankly, it's the only place you can find Democrats and Republicans working cooperatively together. They work that way in our election system to make sure that the integrity of our election system is upheld and that people feel good about the process of voting.
COSTELLO: How would you characterize Mr. Trump's comments when he says things like “the election will be rigged?”
HUSTED: Well, it's irresponsible. He should focus on issues that matter to people like the gentleman you just mentioned, the people that feel that they're losing hope. Give them some hope, don't create hopelessness in our country. Don't make people feel despair. Make them feel uplifted and hopeful that there is a better day ahead for all of us. I think that's what we want from all of our candidates.
COSTELLO: OK, because I think this is so important to assure people that the elections are not rigged, and you're keeping a close eye on things just as the secretaries of state are across our country. So I like the way this former Republican chair put it, his name is Al Cardenas. He says, “How do you proclaim fraud before the incident takes place? It's like my calling you a robber before you rob the bank.” Can you relate to that statement?
HUSTED: Yeah. Well, the idea of widespread voter fraud would require some systemic problem in our system, and so if there's a systemic problem, please identify it. Don't just make an allegation on Twitter. Tell me, tell the secretaries of state around the country what the problem is so that we can fix it. But right now we're not aware of any systemic problems in our voting system. Are there cases of voter fraud? Absolutely there are cases of voter fraud, but it's rare, and we catch these people. Most times we catch them before their vote is even counted, and we hold them accountable, and we're building a better system every single day.
COSTELLO: Please, I want you to -- because when I went to Ohio last Friday to do my stories, I talked to a lot of people who think that there really are people who are going to vote ten and twelve times, and they won't be caught. How do you prevent something like that?
HUSTED: We have safeguards built into the system, everything from identification rules to removing deceased voters from the rolls, meaning keeping the voter rolls up to date. We have the ability to make sure that only one vote is cast and counted. There are occasions where people do fraudulent behavior. We had a lady in the last presidential election who voted five times. She was caught. She went to prison for it. It's not worth committing a fifth degree felony to cast an extra vote. Most people understand that, and they don't even attempt to try to misuse the system. But we have so many safeguards in place in our election system. It's bipartisan. It's transparent, and there's just no justification for concern about widespread voter fraud.
COSTELLO: And just a final thing, because some Trump supporters will say, clearly he's a Democrat. Are you?
HUSTED: No. I actually intend on voting for Donald Trump, but I'm just remorseful or regretful that he's saying things like this which really undermine the potential that he has as a candidate. They are not the kinds of things that he should be saying. He should focus on trying to reach people, to give them hope that he can be a leader that will ultimately move America forward. This kind of conversation though moves America backwards, and it should be dismissed. And it shouldn't be part of the presidential campaign.
COSTELLO: Now I have to ask you one more question. So you're going to vote for a guy who's making your life harder frankly and is trying to disenfranchise voters?
HUSTED: Yes. I understand it's a very difficult thing, but look, I care about second amendment rights. I care about the Supreme Court. I care about issues. I'm a policy-oriented person because these are the things that are going to move America forward. I'm hopeful that in the next few weeks that he will be able to change the direction that he is trying to take this campaign, but time is growing short. [CNN, CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, 10/17/16]