Sure there’s voter fraud. By Republicans.
So Hair Twittler is asking for a “major investigation” into voter fraud, the kind that exists only by seeing the world through orange-colored glasses.
Donald Trump is still so incensed about losing the popular vote — and the fact that news media keep reporting it — that he keeps tweeting about it, claiming that he would have won more votes than Hillary Clinton if not for the “millions” of illegal votes cast for the Democratic candidate. His press secretary, Baghdad Sean Spicer — you know, the guy who delivers “alternative facts” — repeated the lie with a straight face, citing a “study.”
Never mind that every study ever done on voter fraud shows that it’s almost nonexistent. Never mind that David Becker, the author of a 2012 study by Pew Research (the study Baghdad Sean referred to as a 2008 study) says his work, and other voter studies done by Pew, do not show such fraud. The Becker study shows problems in the voter registration process, but voter registration and voter fraud are very different things.
A Washington Post story quotes Jesse Richman, the author of the study Spicer might have meant. That study, by professors at Old Dominion University, said that 14 percent of non-citizens claimed they were registered to vote. But making such a claim doesn’t mean they tried to to cast a ballot, and Richman said such a conclusion about voter fraud wasn’t warranted.
The results “suggest that almost all elections in the US are not determined by noncitizen participation, with occasional and very rare potential exceptions,” [Richman] wrote.
In the days after the election, Team Trump had plenty of confidence in the votes cast.
Despite Trump’s repeated claims, his attorneys stated there was no evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election. In a court filing opposing Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s recount petition, lawyers for Trump and his campaign wrote: “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
Look, we all know this is about Trump’s ego and not about voter fraud. (Well, that and supposedly what he heard from a German golfer.) It’s about the fact that nearly 3 million more people voted for Clinton than for him. It’s also a way to distract from other issues Trumpland is facing, such as the ethical conflicts with his businesses and with some of his cabinet nominees; the fact that insiders are leaking to Beltway media that President ThinSkin can’t handle embarrassment; his daily executive orders on the Affordable Care Act, his wall with Mexico, a Muslim ban, immigrant deportation, freezing EPA grants, etc. But voter fraud is the latest shiny object.
Even though they are extremely rare, let’s look at some actual cases of voter fraud. See if you can connect the dots on what the perpetrators have in common.
In January 2016, New Hampshire resident Derek Castonguay pleaded guilty to voter fraud. He was so excited about voting, he was registered to vote as a Republican in both Windham and Salem, N.H.
In February 2016, Wisconsin resident Robert Monroe was sentenced to jail on 13 counts of voter fraud. He had cast illegal votes in 2011 and 2012, including voting multiple times in the recall election, for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, from multiple locations and in the names of his son and his son’s girlfriend. Monroe tried to claim he was in a “fugue state” when he voted so often, but the judge wasn’t buying it.
In 2014, Leslie Rutledge, the Republican candidate for Arkansas attorney general, was registered to vote in Washington, D.C., Arkansas, and Virginia. She registered to vote in Washington in 2008, then voted absentee from Arkansas in the same election. An Arkansas county clerk canceled her Arkansas registration in 2014 when he learned she was registered in multiple states, meaning she couldn’t run for office, because in Arkansas you must be registered to vote to run for office. Rutledge objected and blamed “big bureaucrat, big government” politics. Rutledge ultimately won her argument — and the attorney general’s race. Oh, and she’s a YUUUGE Trump supporter.
In Illinois, a 2014 candidate for the General Assembly, Republican Nancy Myalls, was found to have cast votes in both Illinois and Wisconsin, where she owned a vacation home, in 2008 and 2012. She was another Republican, like Robert Monroe, who wanted to make sure she could vote for Scott Walker in the recall election. Although Myalls was never prosecuted for voter fraud, at least she lost the election for a state legislative seat.
In February 2012, the Republican secretary of state in Indiana, Charlie White, was found guilty on multiple counts: two counts of perjury and one each of false registration, voting in another precinct, submitting a false ballot, and theft. At the time of the fraud, he had used his ex-wife’s home as his voting address because he “didn’t want to give up a $1,000-a-month” town council salary. Remember that the secretary of state is in charge of elections.
In January 2013, Roxanne Rubin, a Nevada Republican, accepted a plea deal for voting multiple times in the 2012 election. Rubin claimed she didn’t want to commit fraud, she just decided to “test” the integrity of the voting system by voting multiple times.
In Arizona in 2012, a Republican candidate for county supervisor, John Enright, was forced to withdraw his candidacy when it came to light that he had been sending in absentee votes for his girlfriend—who had been dead for five years.
Also in Arizona in 2012, an unidentified Republican man thought it would be hilarious to register his dog as a Democrat, just to show how easy it was to commit voter fraud. He committed voter registration fraud, but not voter fraud — the dog obviously wasn’t going to show up to vote. And what dog would want to register as a Republican anyway?
There are four documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election out of 135 million votes cast, which turned up in an exhaustive online search by The Washington Post. Three of the four involved Republican voters and Trump supporters. The fourth involved an election worker in Florida counting absentee ballots who was arrested after she filled in bubbles for a Republican mayoral candidate.
Of course, Steve Bannon, President Popular Vote Loser’s right-hand man in the White House, is registered to vote in two states — New York and Florida. One of the Trump offspring, Tiffany, is registered in both New York and Pennsylvania. Trump Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin is registered in both New York and California. Two more double dippers: Son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is registered in New York and New Jersey, and Baghdad Sean Spicer is registered in Rhode Island and Virginia. Presumably all five voted Republican. Even Gregg Phillips, Trump’s guy pushing the bogus “millions voting illegally” claim, is still registered in Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas, under two different versions of his name.
UPDATE: In Colorado, the former chair of the state Republican Party, Steve Curtis, used to claim that only Democrats committed voter fraud. Now he’s the one charged with voter fraud in the 2016 election for allegedly filling out and mailing in his ex-wife’s ballot. And yes, he was a Trump supporter so that means one extra vote for the Donald. When the ex-wife called to ask how she could cast her vote by mail, she was told she already had voted. Judges compared her signature on file to the signature on the mailed-in ballot and found they didn’t match.
What is there to say but — Sad!
Surely there must be cases where Democrats committed voter fraud, you might say. Perhaps, but a video example of Democratic voter fraud—widely spread by GOP conspiracy theorists in 2016 — was actually filmed in Russia, according to Snopes.com. Also from Snopes: a piece shooting down video claims of voter fraud made by James O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas.”
A post by FactCheck.org debunks Trump’s claims of “massive” voter fraud, whether they’re about dead people voting, non-citizens voting, or people voting more than once. These cases involving Republicans aside, the actual number cases is so small that that it couldn’t affect any election outcome. Thirty-one incidents in 14 years, out of 1 billion votes cast. As FactCheck reports:
In an Aug. 16, 2014, article for the Washington Post, Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, currently on leave to work with the Department of Justice overseeing voting, wrote that he has been tracking allegations of voter fraud for years, including any “credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix.”
“So far,” he wrote, “I’ve found about 31 different incidents (some of which involve multiple ballots) since 2000, anywhere in the country. … To put this in perspective, the 31 incidents below come in the context of general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014. In general and primary elections alone, more than 1 billion ballots were cast in that period.”
In 2012, a team of students led by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University analyzed 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000 and concluded that “while fraud has occurred, the rate is infinitesimal, and in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tough voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent.”
Yes, states and local governments are slow to clean up voting rolls, so sometimes voters who moved from one location or one state to another might show up on multiple rolls. That doesn’t mean they voted more than once (except for the Republicans named above). Voters die, and they remain on voting rolls until removed. That doesn’t mean zombies trudge to the voting booth with arms outstretched as if they walked off the set of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.
You know what is fraudulent about voting regulations? Things that make it harder for people to vote. Voter ID laws and other voter suppression measures target the elderly, recently naturalized citizens, African-Americans, Hispanics, and students, making it harder for them to cast ballots. And yes, those efforts are done by Republicans to depress votes for those who might be more likely to vote for Democrats.
Whatever “investigation” might be launched by the Trumpsters is sure to be used as an excuse for even stricter voter ID laws. The Trump team has said the probe will be focused on urban centers, which lean heavily Democratic.
The 2012 Pew study lists many voter registration problems and offers less expensive, effective ways to solve registration issues, such as online voter registration and online voter data comparisons. By all means, let’s streamline voter registration to have accurate voter rolls. But let’s not waste time, effort, and money on a problem that doesn’t exist.
Originally published by Daily Kos on Jan. 29, 2017.