Fact check: Trump wrong on voter fraud
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.
THE PEW STUDY
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.
WHAT TRUMP SAID
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.”
ILLEGAL VOTES FOR CLINTON?
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.
DEAD PEOPLE VOTING
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