Donald Trump has already said that November’s election “is going to be rigged.” During a Tuesday interview with the Washington Post, the Republican presidential nominee cited the recent string of rulings against voter ID laws as the mechanism he believes Democrats are using to do the rigging.
“I don’t like what’s going on with voter ID,” Trump said. “I mean the voter ID situation has turned out to be a very unfair development. We may have people vote 10 times. It’s inconceivable that you don’t have to show identification in order to vote or that that the identification doesn’t have to be somewhat foolproof.”
In reality, Trump has no good reason to worry about voter fraud. As ThinkProgress detailed just yesterday, instances of voter fraud are about as common as magical unicorns. Study after study — including investigations led by pro-voter ID elected officials — have shown it barely exists. In fact, in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board — the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision turning away a challenge to Indiana’s voter ID law — justices were only able to cite a single instance of in-person voter fraud during the last 140 years. A Wisconsin study study analyzing the state’s 2004 election found just seven cases of fraud among the three million votes cast, including exactly zero that would’ve been prevented by a voter ID law. A similar study in Iowa conducted two years ago found zero instances of in-person fraud.
This Is How The Supreme Court Could Stop Future Voter Suppression LawsJustice by CREDIT: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes Last week, a federal appeals court struck down several major provisions…thinkprogress.orgBut Trump is worried nonetheless. Even after the Post’s Philip Rucker tried to change the topic, Trump brought the conversation back to voter ID.
“There’s a lot of dirty pool played at the election, meaning the election is rigged. I would not be surprised,” Trump said. “The voter ID, they’re fighting as hard as you can fight so that that they don’t have to show voter ID. So, what’s the purpose of that? How many times is a person going to vote during the day?”
Voter ID laws aren’t necessary to prevent voter fraud but they do make it much harder for some people to vote, particularly people of color. During a recent Texas case that resulted in that state’s ID law being struck down, an expert testified that “Hispanic registered voters and Black registered voters were respectively 195% and 305% more likely than their Anglo peers to lack” voter ID. Just yesterday, a U.S. District Court judge in North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction against the state’s voter ID law, writing that “the record is replete with concrete evidence of significant burdens imposed on Native American voters attempting to exercise their right to vote.” And since people of color are more likely to vote for Democrats, Republicans like Trump have a political incentive to push voter ID laws. That fact was recently acknowledged by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who told a reporter that Wisconsin’s voter ID law would help a Republican presidential candidate carry the state for the first time since 1984. (Wisconsin’s voter ID law has been effectively been thrown out since then.)
Trump’s remarks about voter fraud come on the heels of one of his oldest and most influential advisers, Roger Stone, suggesting on Milo Yiannopoulos’ radio show that Trump start “talking about it constantly.”
“I think we have widespread voter fraud, but the first thing that Trump needs to do is begin talking about it constantly,” Stone said. “He needs to say for example, today would be a perfect example: ‘I am leading in Florida. The polls all show it. If I lose Florida, we will know that there’s voter fraud. If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government.’”
But Stone’s concern is ultimately to get Trump elected, not to actually prevent alleged voter fraud. Furthermore, it’s not the case that all the polls in Florida or other swing states show Trump ahead — as of August 3, FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast gives Hillary Clinton a 68 percent chance of winning.