The final vote count for the 2016 election is under contention once again. The belief that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election is an idea that President Donald Trump declared on Twitter, suggesting that he would have won the 2016 popular vote against Hillary Clinton if voting by illegal aliens in the United States was deducted. POTUS once called for a “major investigation” into whether illegal immigrants are voting and now a new study by think tank Just Facts is providing further evidence to consider.
In 2008, Harvard University’s Cooperative Congressional Election Study gathered data from a YouGov poll that provided evidence about people’s political views. Among the data was the fact that 15 percent of the 32,800 adults polled claimed to be non-citizens. However, Just Facts notes that “uncertainties in the data” could either overstate or understate the number of illegal immigrants voting.
For example, it’s possible to overstate the voter fraud since “survey respondents [may] make random errors on the citizenship question.” On the other hand, “non-citizens commonly use false identifications and Social Security numbers” when registering to vote. In addition, Just Facts claims illegal immigrants don’t want to expose their true immigration status, so they’re more likely to misrepresent themselves during surveys, or just avoid such surveys altogether, in order to avoid prosecution for voter fraud.
Overall, the Just Facts study estimates that 7.9 million non-citizens were illegally registered to vote that year and between “594,000 to 5.7 million non-citizens voted illegally in the 2008 election.” Just Facts also estimates that during the 2012 election, between 1.2 million to 3.6 million illegal immigrants voted.
As a comparison, representatives for VoteStand claimed that up to 3 million illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election, although the organization is still compiling its data. A 2013 Hispanic Poll conducted by a polling firm found that 13 percent of illegal aliens said they were registered to vote. A Washington Times report from May noted that non-citizens in Virginia “cast more than 7,000 ballots” and spot checks “found hundreds of illegal immigrants registered to vote” because they “disqualified themselves from juries because of noncitizenship [yet] were found to be on voter rolls.”
To put the situation into perspective, Barack Obama won the popular vote in the 2008 election against John McCain by about 9.5 million votes. However, Trump lost the popular vote count by 2,868,519 votes, putting that number square in the center of the range provided by Just Facts.
“The details are technical, but the figure I calculated is based on a more conservative margin of sampling error and a methodology that I consider to be more accurate,” said Just Facts President James D. Agresti, according to the Washington Times.
These numbers are also in line with the estimate that President Trump made months ago and the Washington Times writer points out that “Just Facts’ conclusions confront both sides in the illegal voting debate: those who say it happens a lot and those who say the problem nonexistent.” Some researchers have claimed literally “zero” illegal immigrants voted based upon the available evidence, but Agresti dismisses their “flawed assumptions” as “irrational” and not “logical.” As an example, he said critics claim “non-citizens never misidentified themselves as citizens” in the surveys yet “some of the polled non-citizens denied they were registered to vote when publicly available databases show that they were.”
Back in May of 2017, President Trump signed an executive order, which set up a commission headed by Vice President Mike Pence to investigate whether illegal immigrants are voting. But getting to the truth may be much harder than expected. The commission was planning on relying on data from the Department of Homeland Security but it turns the government “does not have a mechanism in place to cross-check voter registration” for voter fraud. Officials for Homeland Security estimate that about 12 million illegal immigrant adults may reside in the United States and the investigation is ongoing.
[Featured Image by Patrick Sison/AP Images]