As Trump’s poll numbers have sagged in recent weeks, he has taken to claiming that the election is “rigged” against him. He reiterated this claim at the third debate, citing a litany of reasons that he will “keep you in suspense” about whether he’ll accept the results of the elections.
While some of this complaint has to do with his belief that the media has been mean to him it its coverage, some of it relies on widely-debunked claims of “large scale voter fraud.” Study after study has found that voter fraud — especially impersonation of other voters — is virtually non-existent in U.S. elections; you are more likely to be struck by lightning or report seeing a UFO than to commit such fraud.
The specter of voter fraud is often raised by Republicans eager to depress Democratic voter turnout as an excuse to enact strict voter suppression laws, such as strict voter ID requirements. But that does not make it real and the laws would do little to stop it even if it were.
In recent days, Trump has urged his supporters to flood into heavily Democratic cities of Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis — cities with significant minority populations — and “watch.” Voting rights advocates have warned this could lead to illegal voter intimidation or suppression.
Trump’s suggestion of a conspiracy to rig the election against him in particular, of course, is especially unlikely. A ThinkProgress review of chief state elections officials found that 29 states, representing 302 electoral votes, have GOP-controlled election processes and another four (representing 63 electoral votes) are overseen by bipartisan boards.
Several Republican election officials have pushed back against Trump’s rigging claims and even his campaign manager conceded on Wednesday that she does “not believe there will be widespread voter fraud” on Election Day.
Hillary Clinton noted that Trump frequently claims anything he loses is rigged against him, including even the Emmy Awards.