Following news that vote recounts would be going ahead in at least one state, Wisconsin (as reported by BBC,) President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to air his views that “serious voter fraud” had taken place in Virginia, New Hampshire, and California. According to The Hill, he also alleged that the media wasn’t reporting on this, demonstrating “serious bias” in the process.
These claims stem from an Alex Jones report on InfoWars, repeated by sources like Milo Yiannopoulos and FreedomDaily, that 3 million votes were cast illegally by non-citizens this election; earlier in the day, Trump claimed that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He also spent a significant amount of his tirade attacking Hillary Clinton over the recounts.
So what’s the real story? According to PolitiFact, the 3 million-voter figure is flat-out false. They traced the origins of InfoWars‘ information to an alleged report from VoteFraud.org and tweets from one Gregg Phillips, who claims to be the founder of voter fraud reporting app VoteStand.
Unfortunately, the alleged VoteFraud.org report doesn’t actually exist – and Phillips, who is not affiliated with that site, claims that “we have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens” but refuses to reveal how that information was verified, what data was analyzed to come up with that figure, or otherwise provide any proof of his assertions.
Phillips, a former finance director of the Alabama Republican Party, former executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party, and former managing director of a 2012 Newt Gingrich super PAC, claims to still be working on the data and that he will release his information publicly when he is finished. When journalist Dan Tynan asked to see the data, Phillips responded, “No. We will release it in open form to the American people. We won’t allow the media to spin this first.”
So while PolitiFact is hasty to note that they can’t say for certain, their ruling is: “don’t buy it.”
Fellow fact-checkers at Snopes back them up; while the claim is rated officially as “unproven” the Snopes headline states that “Zero evidence has been put forth to support the widely parroted claim that 3 million ‘illegal aliens’ voted in the 2016 presidential election.” They found more examples of the claim being repeated by far-right sources, including Allen West.
Snopes also found that Phillips was “no stranger to voter fraud controversies,” citing a statement of his from a 2013 Breitbart article labeling Obamacare as “the biggest voter registration fraud scheme in the history of the world.”
Phillips, meanwhile, continues to tweet at Donald Trump and others contesting his results, making claims such as that “Millions of illegal votes were cast… Obamas (sic) DOJ covered it up,” and “We have proof.” At least when he is not otherwise occupied attacking his detractors, or accusing them of being “bots” – among them Snopes, journalist Parker Molloy, comedian Dean Obeidallah, and more.
As yet, Mr. Phillips has not produced any of this evidence.
Meanwhile, aside from his claims of illegal votes, Trump’s position – that the Clinton campaign blasted him for his statements that he would not accept the results of the election – actually have some merit, quoting Clinton’s words on the subject.
“That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works. Been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a during a general election. I, for one, am appalled that somebody that is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.”
And while the situation that Clinton was describing was certainly different than the situation that we have now, those words must surely be coming back to haunt her all the same.
That said, at this point, it’s fair to say that she has nothing to lose.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]