Voter fraud accusations have run rampant this election season, perhaps exemplified by the baseless claim that 3 million illegal aliens voted. In fact, the number of actual cases of voter fraud from the 2016 presidential election appears to be somewhere in the two-digit range.
As The New York Times reports, voter fraud is a political bugaboo that politicians love to use as a tool to advance their agenda, claiming that it’s rampant and needs to be battled at any cost. The results of the 2016 presidential election, however, paint a different picture, with the total of known, or suspected, instances of voter fraud amounting to a few dozen, at most.
The Times surveyed election officials in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia (Kansas officials declined to respond). Twenty-six states plus D.C. reported no voter fraud. Another eight states admitted to eight cases of voter fraud between them – one each. Tennessee admitted to investigating about 40 credible cases of suspected voter fraud, out of 4.3 million votes cast (or about 0.000009 percent of votes cast). Georgia, similarly, admitted to investigating 25 credible cases of suspected voter fraud out of 4.1 million votes cast (or about 0.000006 percent of votes cast). That’s about 63 credible cases of suspected voter fraud, out of 137.7 million votes cast nationwide (or about 0.00000046 percent of votes cast).
That’s a fire cry from Donald Trump’s allegation, made in late November via The New York Times, that “millions” of illegal votes were cast. Trump used the baseless claim to back up his claim that he would have one the popular vote, in addition to the electoral vote that he already won, had it not been for illegal voting.
“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
The claim that “millions” of illegal votes were cast in 2016 – specifically, that up to 3 million illegal aliens illegally voted – has been thoroughly debunked. As Snopes reported back in mid-November, just a week after the election, the claim of 3 million illegal aliens voting was a popular talking point among some elements in the conservative media.
However, evidence for that claim proved elusive. Snopes was able to track down the earliest claim of illegal aliens voting, and it appears the rumor originated with a Twitter user using the name “Gregg Phillips.”
Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations.
Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million.
Consulting legal team.
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 11, 2016
Phillips refused to divulge how he came up with that number. He did, however, promise to release his results to the American people “in open form,” something that, as of this writing, he appears not to have done.
Thomas E. Mann, a resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Times that accusations of rampant voter fraud are a favorite tool of some conservative politicians, despite limited evidence that the problem even exists.
“The old notion that somehow there are all these impostors out there, people not eligible to vote that are voting — it’s a lie. But it’s what’s being used in the states now to impose increased qualifications and restrictions on voting.”
It bears noting that, as of this writing, not every allegation of voter fraud has been thoroughly investigated, nor has every stone been turned, so it may yet turn out that more (or fewer) credible instances of voter fraud may yet turn up, but the Times concludes that a major adjustment of the numbers found so far is unlikely.
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