Chicago Sun-Times

Fact check: Trump wrong on voter fraud

- Robert Far­ley FactCheck. org

In an ABC News in­ter­view that aired Wed­nes­day, Pres­i­dent Trump dou­bled down on false and mis­lead­ing claims that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. In the in­ter­view, ABC’s David Muir asked Trump for ev­i­dence of widespread fraud, given that “what you have pre­sented so far has been de­bunked. It’s been called false.” We found sev­eral of Trump’s claims in de­fense of his state­ments to be in­ac­cu­rate.


When asked for ev­i­dence of widespread voter fraud, Trump cited a 2012 study by the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts. The re­port, “In­ac­cu­rate, Costly and In­ef­fi­cient: Ev­i­dence That Amer­ica’s Voter Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem Needs an Up­grade,” found that “more than 1.8 mil­lion de­ceased in­di­vid­u­als are listed as vot­ers” and that “ap­prox­i­mately 2.75 mil­lion peo­ple have reg­is­tra­tions in more than one state.”

The re­port’s au­thors said it shows that voter rolls are “sus­cep­ti­ble to fraud,” though they did not claim it was ev­i­dence of ac­tual fraud. Rather, Pew said that it is ev­i­dence of the need to up­date voter reg­is­tra­tion sys­tems.

“The in­abil­ity of this pa­per- based process to keep up with vot­ers as they move or die can lead to prob­lems with the rolls, in­clud­ing the per­cep­tion that they lack in­tegrity or could be sus­cep­ti­ble to fraud,” the re­port said.

Muir said he spoke to the pri­mary au­thor of the Pew re­port the night be­fore the in­ter­view, and David Becker told him the Pew au­thors found no ev­i­dence of voter fraud.


Trump claimed that there is a prob­lem with peo­ple vot­ing “twice.” “You have peo­ple reg­is­tered in two states,” Trump said. “They’re reg­is­tered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice.”

There is some ev­i­dence, as Trump said, that many peo­ple are reg­is­tered in two dif­fer­ent states. The Pew re­port in 2012 found that about 2.75 mil­lion peo­ple were reg­is­tered in more than one state. That fig­ure may now be lower, said Becker, the pri­mary au­thor of the re­port. In the five years since the re­port was pub­lished, he told CNN, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials “have done a much bet­ter job of us­ing data and tech­nol­ogy to keep their voter rolls up to date.”

But even if mil­lions of peo­ple are reg­is­tered to vote in two states, it is not ev­i­dence of them ac­tu­ally vot­ing il­le­gally in both states. ( In­deed, the Guardian re­ported that se­nior White House ad­viser Stephen Ban­non was reg­is­tered in two states, as was Trump’s pick for Trea­sury sec­re­tary, Steve Mnuchin, ac­cord­ing to CNN. And The Wash­ing­ton Post found that Trump’s son- in- law and White House ad­viser Jared Kush­ner and press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer are im­prop­erly reg­is­tered in two states.) Rather, it is ev­i­dence that states could do a bet­ter job of shar­ing in­for­ma­tion to keep track of res­i­dents who have moved.


At one point in the in­ter­view, when Muir ques­tioned Trump about his claim that there were “mil­lions of il­le­gal votes,” Trump re­sponded, “I didn’t say there are mil­lions. But I think there could very well be mil­lions of peo­ple.”

That’s a puz­zling state­ment from Trump, be­cause ear­lier in the in­ter­view, when Muir asked Trump about re­ports that he told con­gres­sional lead­ers on Jan. 23 that he lost the pop­u­lar vote be­cause of 3 mil­lion to 5 mil­lion il­le­gal votes, Trump at first re­sponded that it was sup­posed to be a con­fi­den­tial meet­ing, but then added, “I said it. And I said it strongly be­cause what’s going on with voter fraud is hor­ri­ble.”


Trump claimed sev­eral times that in ad­di­tion to there be­ing widespread voter fraud from nonci­t­i­zens, those vot­ing twice and those vot­ing on be­half of dead peo­ple, it all broke Hil­lary Clin­ton’s way.

“I will say this, of those votes cast, none of them come to me,” Trump said.

We’re not sure what to “look at” when it comes to mil­lions of fraud­u­lent votes, be­cause there have been only a few re­ports of peo­ple vot­ing twice or on be­half of a dead per­son. As for nonci­t­i­zens vot­ing, Trump has in the past re­ferred to a con­tro­ver­sial and dis­puted study by two Old Do­min­ion Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sors that was pub­lished in the jour­nal Elec­toral Stud­ies. It an­a­lyzed a na­tional elec­tion sur­vey in which some peo­ple self- iden­ti­fied as nonci­t­i­zens, but in­di­cated that they voted. The pro­fes­sors es­ti­mated, based on ex­trap­o­lat­ing fig­ures from the sur­vey to a na­tional au­di­ence, that 6.4% of nonci­t­i­zens voted in 2008 and 2.2% of nonci­t­i­zens voted in 2010.

But in that study the au­thors found that Barack Obama won more than 80% of the votes of nonci­t­i­zens in the 2008 sam­ple. That’s an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity, but it does not sup­port Trump’s spec­u­la­tion that all of the al­leged nonci­t­i­zen votes would have gone to Clin­ton. And as we said, the study it­self is dis­puted by a num­ber of aca­demics.


And fi­nally, on the topic of “dead peo­ple … vot­ing,” Trump said, “which they do.” But vot­ing ex­perts told us that fraud­u­lent bal­lots cast in the name of dead reg­is­tered vot­ers is largely an ur­ban myth, and that such vot­ing is ex­tremely rare.

“They’re reg­is­tered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice.” Pres­i­dent Trump, ABC in­ter­view in

 ?? ELISE AMENDOLA, AP ?? A voter en­ters a booth at a polling place in Ex­eter, N. H., on Nov. 8.
ELISE AMENDOLA, AP A voter en­ters a booth at a polling place in Ex­eter, N. H., on Nov. 8.

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