President Trump calls for ‘major investigation’ into nonexistent voter fraud

Even his own campaign acknowledged it didn’t happen.

President Donald Trump talks with reporters n the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump talks with reporters n the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Two days after he told congressional leaders that he would have won the popular vote if it were not for three to five million illegal votes, President Trump announced on Wednesday morning that he’ll push for a “major investigation into VOTER FRAUD.”

Trump’s tweets conflate registration lists with fraud. There are innocuous reasons why a state’s voter rolls might be less than totally accurate. People move to another state without informing their former secretary of state’s office, and hence might be registered in more than one place. Others people die but don’t get removed from the rolls. Neither of those occurrences constitute fraud, however. Fraud is casting a ballot illegally either by voting more than once or impersonating another voter.

The notion that voter fraud exists on a significant scale is one of the Trump administration’s “alternative facts.” According to a Washington Post analysis, out of the more than 135 million voters cast in the 2016 presidential election, just four cases of voter fraud were found — and three of the culprits voted Republican.

Trump’s own attorneys acknowledged this reality. Last month, lawyers representing his campaign wrote that “all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake” in a court filing opposing Jill Stein’s recount petition. But Trump’s own position is that as many as five million illegal voters were cast in an election that was decided by less than 100,000 votes across three key swing states.

On Tuesday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted dismissed concerns that voter fraud was an issue in his state.

“Donald Trump won Ohio by over 400,000 votes,” Husted, a Republican, told a local TV station. “There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.”

“So, there’s no evidence to support any of [Trump’s] concerns, at least in Ohio… to this point I’m not sure that the facts support that contention,” he added.

Wednesday morning, Husted responded to Trump’s tweets:

Husted’s conclusions are shared by the National Association of Secretaries of State, which said in a statement that “we are not away of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump.”

Trump himself should know how hard it is to vote improperly — in 2004, he was filmed being turned away from multiple polling stations because of registration difficulties.

But to Trump and many other Republicans, sounding the alarm about “voter fraud” and pushing voter suppression laws are political strategies. Voter ID laws, for instance, make it harder for minority groups that are less likely to have ID cards and more likely to vote for Democrats to cast ballots. In addition to 16 state-level efforts to restrict access to registration and voting that are underway this year, Trump’s new vow to “strengthen up voting procedures” suggests a national suppression effort of some sort might be coming soon.

Not all Republicans share Trump’s unsubstantiated concerns, however. Asked about Trump’s tweets on Wednesday morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “There’s no evidence of that, and I think that those that allege [widespread fraud] have to come up with some substantiation of the claim.”

Trump’s repeated comments that he would’ve won the popular vote if it wasn’t for voter fraud were also criticized by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday.

“I would urge the President to knock this off; this is the greatest democracy on Earth, we’re the leader of the free world, and people are going to start doubting you as a person if you keep making accusations against our electoral system without justification,” Graham said, according to CNN. “This is going to erode his ability to govern this country if he does not stop it.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) also spoke out against Trump’s voter fraud comments on Tuesday, CNN reports.