Right-Wing Media Bolster Trump’s Unsubstantiated, Dangerous Claims Of “Large Scale Voter Fraud”

››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

Right-wing media bolstered Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s claim that “there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” Conservatives asserted that dead people “vote for Hillary” and “for Democrats” and that early voting was implemented to give someone “a little hand” in elections.

Trump: “Of Course There Is Large Scale Voter Fraud Happening On And Before Election Day”

Donald Trump: “Of Course There Is Large Scale Voter Fraud Happening On And Before Election Day.” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted, without any evidence, that “there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day”:

 

[Twitter, 10/17/16]

Right-Wing Media Figures Bolster Trump’s Claim, Suggest Dead People Are Voting For Democrats

Fox’s Steve Doocy: Dead People “Vote For Hillary” And They “Vote For Democrats.” Fox host Steve Doocy asserted that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “cornered the market on one particular demographic of the vote: dead people.” Doocy parroted comments by former New York Mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani that “dead people vote for Hillary … vote for Democrats,” concluding that “it looks rigged.” From the October 17 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): I think it's very interesting that over the weekend, it was revealed that while all the candidates seem to be interested in getting out the vote, apparently Hillary Clinton has cornered the market on one particular demographic of the vote: dead people.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Oh.

DOOCY: Did you see Rudy [Giuliani] say, generally, dead people vote for Hillary.

EARHARDT: Vote for Hillary?

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Absolutely.

DOOCY: Vote for Democrats.

KILMEADE: Because that was the big thing for the Sunday shows. They seemed to all be talking to each other saying, "Let's just panic everybody that Donald Trump is going to declare if he loses, the whole thing was rigged." So that was the whole theme.

DOOCY: It looks rigged. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/17/16]

Fox's Ainsley Earhardt: “They’re Sending Ballots To People’s Houses, And If You Do Want To Fill It Out For Someone Who Is Dead, I Guess You Can Do It And Send It In.” Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt highlighted Giuliani's comments that Democrats are “going and getting dead people to vote.” Earhardt suggested that Democrats are “sending ballots to people’s houses, and if you do want to fill it out for someone who is dead, I guess you can do it.” Co-host Steve Doocy responded, “Just keep in mind, dead people watching right now, if you get caught: voter fraud.” From the October 17 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

AINSLEY EARHARDT: A lot of people are saying that this election is rigged, one of them is Rudy Giuliani. He was on some of the Sunday shows over the weekend talking about how both sides do it, he says. Both sides are out there trying to get people to the polls that aren't supposed to be voting. And he said the Democrats do it worse though, because if you look at certain states, it's happening more, and those are Democratic-led states like, he said --

STEVE DOOCY: Pennsylvania.

EARHARDT: Pennsylvania.

DOOCY: Philly. Chicago, Illinois.

EARHARDT: So he was on the Sunday shows saying the Democrats are so bad, they’re going and getting dead people to vote.

[...]

EARHARDT: I was asking earlier, I said, how is it happening? Well that first email is how it's happening. They’re sending ballots to people's houses, and if you do want to fill it out for someone who is dead, I guess you can do it and send it in, which is wrong. I'm not saying you should do that.

KILMEADE: 40 percent of the electorate will have voted prior to election day.

DOOCY: A lot of people. Just keep in mind, dead people watching right now, if you get caught: voter fraud. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/17/16]

Rush Limbaugh: “What Do You Mean Elections Aren’t Rigged? Of Course They Are!” Radio host Rush Limbaugh asserted that “the dead elected JFK” before devolving into a conspiracy theory that early voting was implemented to give an unnamed entity “a little hand” in elections. From the October 17 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: That’s what all this is, isn’t it? An attempt to shame people into abandoning Trump. Oh look at the danger. Why he’s actually suggesting the election -- the dead elected JFK for crying out loud in Chicago and West Virginia. What do you mean elections aren’t rigged? Of course they are! What do you think early voting is all about for crying out loud? Mr. Limbaugh, you’re totally wrong about early voting. Early voting is for the disabled and disadvantaged and the people who can’t vote on election day. No, that’s not what it is and you people know it. It is a -- election day was defined as election day for one thing. There is no early election day until you people come along because you don't trust the outcome of elections unless you have a little hand in them. We all know what’s going on here, and we’ve known for a long time. Look at the Florida recount in 2000, look at what happened after the Supreme Court finally said, look it, the recount is over. You've gone way above and beyond. They kept counting and counting and hanging chads until they can find a way to get Gore the presidency, and it was over. The Supreme Court shut it down, and they think the Supreme Court was rigged! When it was them in the Democrat Party who couldn't accept the will of voters in the outcome of the state of Florida. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/17/16]

CNN’s Scottie Nell Hughes: “There Are Some Issues That Need To Be Addressed Right Now With Voter Registration And Making Sure It’s Accurate.” CNN contributor and Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes claimed that the election is “rigged actually according to the voters on election day.” Hughes cited a Pew Research study that said “one in eight voter registrations are inaccurate” and said that “1.8 million people are deceased on the voter registrations right now.” Host Chris Cuomo clarified that those statistics do not “mean those votes get used.” From the October 17 edition of CNN’s New Day:

CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): Scottie, do you believe that this election is rigged?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES: Well there is two folds to that. There’s a rigging in the case of the media and the exposure and the attention they're giving to Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton. I mean, we looked at last week, according to ABC, CBS, NBC, they spent a total of 4 hours and 13 minutes talking about Trump scandals, and yet WikiLeaks spent 36 minutes. That's a one to seven ratio. You cannot deny that there is some sort of bias going on within the media. Then the other side of it is rigged actually according to the voters on election day. Pew Research in February 2012 came back and said one in eight voter registrations are inaccurate. There is significantly -- that they’re no longer viable. That's 146 million registered voters in the United States today, Chris, 1.8 million has some sort of fraud or has something wrong with their voter registration. Easy solution: voter I.D. laws. That's why the Republicans are pushing so hard for it.

CUOMO: Yeah, except they don’t like that when you register for your license, you can also register to vote, right? So these are also complex issues.

[...]

HUGHES: Here’s the technicals. 1.8 million people are deceased on the voter registrations right now, 2.95 million are voted -- are registered to vote in more than one state. There are some irregular -- there are some issues that need to be addressed right now with voter registration and making sure it's accurate.

CUOMO: Except it doesn’t mean those votes get used. Even in Philadelphia where they looked at it, you can’t uncount votes. So a lot of these systems have catch alls for these things. [CNN, New Day, 10/17/16]

Fox’s Kevin Corke: We’ve Heard Examples Of Voter Fraud, “Dead People Voting … Absentee Ballots All Coming In For One Particular Candidate.” Fox News White House correspondent Kevin Corke reported that the White House said there was “virtually zero chance that the election can be altered by election rigging or voter fraud” before saying “let’s be blunt, we’re heard stories of” voter fraud like “dead people voting” and “absentee ballots all coming in for one particular candidate, more than the registered voters in a given state.” From the October 17 edition of Fox News’ America’s Election HQ:

KEVIN CORKE: Let me just make it simple for the folks at home. The White House says there’s very little, in fact virtually zero chance that the election can be altered by election rigging or voter fraud. And let's be blunt, we've heard examples of this, right? Dating back to 2008, dead people voting. We've also heard stories of absentee ballots all coming in for one particular candidate, more than the registered voters in a given state. Well Donald Trump certainly feels like there is a chance that there could be major voter fraud going on in 2016. [Fox News, America’s Election HQ, 10/17/16]

Fox’s Stuart Varney: Trump’s Language Is “Over The Top,” But He “Surely Has A Point About A Rigged Election” And Voter Fraud. Although Fox Business host Stuart Varney called Trump’s language about a rigged election “over the top,” Varney claimed Trump “surely has a point about a rigged election.” Varney then suggested voter ID laws should be implemented in order to “preserve the integrity of the vote.” From the October 17 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.:

STUART VARNEY (HOST): Donald Trump says the election is rigged. Does he have a point? Well he is using over-the-top language. It’s very hard to say an election evolving 50 states and close to 100 million voters is rigged, so tone down the language. Look objectively at Trump’s charge. First, voter fraud. Now, we brought you the undercover video of the New York elections commissioner admitting minority voters are bussed around to vote numerous times for Democrats, that’s in New York City. Trump surely has a point about a rigged election there.

[...]

VARNEY: ID should be required for voting. That would preserve the integrity of the vote. I say ignore the mainstream media. They’re not being honest. And let’s all pray that hackers don’t get inside the system on voting day and mess up the whole thing. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 10/17/16]

Fox’s Martha MacCallum: Votes From Dead People Have “Happened Before.” Fox host Martha MacCallum said that dead people voting for Democratic candidates “has happened before,” citing Lyndon B. Johnson’s election and claims of past fraud in Chicago and Texas. From the October 17 edition of Fox News’ America’s Election HQ:

JOHN ROBERTS: Yes, Donald Trump is talking about it being rigged at the polls. And almost in the same breath that Giuliani was saying that we don’t think that the election is rigged at the polls, he said, well, plenty of dead people vote, and most of those dead people, history shows, vote for the Democratic Party. Martha?

MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST): I remember that happening in Chicago years ago and in Texas as well in LBJ’s election, so it has happened before. [Fox News, America’s Election HQ, 10/17/16]

There Is No Evidence Of Widespread Voter Fraud And No Proof Dead People Vote In Large Numbers

Loyola University Study Found Only 31 Instances Of Potential Voter Fraud Between 2000 And 2014 Out Of More Than 1 Billion. According to a study by Loyola University law professor Justin Levitt, the in-person voter fraud that strict voter ID prevents is still nearly non-existent. Levitt's study, which "track[ed] any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix," found just 31 instances of this potential voter fraud between 2000 and 2014. According to Levitt, "more than 1 billion ballots were cast in that period." From the August 6 study:

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. [Media Matters, 8/7/14]

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 be 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]

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