Did 3 million illegal immigrants vote in the 2016 election as Gregg Phillips of VoteStand claims? The stunning allegation was made earlier this week and has begun to go viral all over Facebook and Twitter. Republicans and conservatives have jumped on the claim and started to allege it is possible that Donald Trump's popular vote count may be higher than Hillary Clinton's votes assuming the alleged votes by undocumented illegal aliens were filtered out.
[UPDATE] Trump has repeated the allegations by Phillips and True The Vote has responded with a press release that includes hints about their plans. Please click the link to the left for the full details. [UPDATE: January 26, 2017] True The Vote has discussed their plans for 2017 based upon President Trump talking about having a "major investigation" into alleged voter fraud.
The drama over 3 million illegal aliens voting started on November 10 when Philips tweeted out that VoteStand's "best estimates suggest more than 2 million illegals voted on Tuesday. Mechanisms must be deployed to stop illegals from voting." Within several days, Phillips claimed that their system had "verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens. We are joining True The Vote to initiate legal action.... We are preparing a lawsuit to be filed in federal court."
He also began "asking Americans to submit video affidavits and join us in massive suit against the government over non-citizen voting." It was stated they "will open the door to everyone who wants to join the suit" and the two organizations plan on using lawyers that specialize in Constitutional laws and election law.
The VoteStand leader noted that the organization started in 2006 and he claims their "methodology, tools and techniques are proven." True The Vote began in 2009 and their website claims their mission is to "equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of America's electoral process. We provide training, technology, and support to fellow citizens so that they can ensure election integrity in their own communities."
Unfortunately, VoteStand is leaving everyone sitting on pills and needles since their report has not been released yet. Phillips did comment that the "data is not accessible via web" and that the "tedious work" of sorting the data is currently underway. He also mentioned that True The Vote is handling duplicates, dead voters, and double votes in a "separate project."
The only explanation Phillips was willing to provide was that VoteStand and True The Vote's data was based upon a database of 180 million voters over six years. It is claimed this data will verify his allegations since their database is "enhanced and tagged with non-citizens" and their "methodology requires verification of identity first. 42 percent of the registrations can't verify ID."
Independent of Phillips' allegations, Harvard's Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) attempted to gather election data that's relevant to the 2016 election. In 2014, the CCES data was used by professors at Old Dominion University (ODU) to estimate the rate of non-citizens voting in a study published in Electoral Studies.
"There is evidence that some non-citizen immigrants voted in both 2008 and 2010.... Since the adult non-citizen population of the United States was roughly 19.4 million (CPS, 2011), the number of non-citizen voters... could range from just over 38,000 at the very minimum to nearly 2.8 million at the maximum."
However, in 2015 a response to the study co-written by Stephen Ansolabehere of Harvard claimed the study represented "a biased estimate of the rate at which non-citizens voted in recent elections. The results, we show, are completely accounted for by very low frequency measurement error; further, the likely percent of non-citizen voters in recent US elections is 0." They claim the study was flawed because the CCES "survey was not designed to sample non-citizens" and they believed the self-identified "non-citizen" respondents simply were misidentified either because they were confused or clicked the wrong box on the online survey.
In an article published by The Washington Post, the authors of the study also admitted there was potential for error.
"There are obvious limitations to our research, which one should take account of when interpreting the results. Although the CCES sample is large, the non-citizen portion of the sample is modest, with the attendant uncertainty associated with sampling error. We analyze only 828 self-reported non-citizens. Self-reports of citizen status might also be a source of error."
Before the election, FactCheck.org also reached out to experts to see what they had to say about Trump's allegations of massive voter fraud.
"[Trump's] allegations are false. Fraud almost never takes place through in-person voting (and certainly not enough to swing an election)," said Heather Gerken, a professor of law at Yale Law School and an election law expert.
"There have been astonishingly few examples, and with good reason. It is far, far, far easier to steal an election by bribing an election official or mail-in/absentee voting. Unsurprisingly, all the evidence of serious fraud concerns the latter sort."
"The fact that most non-citizen immigrants who showed identification were subsequently permitted to vote suggests that efforts to use photo-identification to prevent non-citizen voting are unlikely to be particularly effective. This most likely reflects the impact of state laws that permit non-citizens to obtain state identification cards (e.g. driver's licenses)."