During a Saturday campaign stop in Cleveland, Ohio, Donald Trump doubled down on recent claims that the entire election is rigged, including what he baselessly argues is widespread voter fraud against him. In almost the same breath, he jokingly insinuated that his supporters could commit voter fraud to help him win, by illegally casting ballots in several locations.
“Maybe they’ll vote for Trump, I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t be saying that,” he said, shrugging and egging the crowd on. “I may be hurting myself, you’re right. You’re right. Maybe they’re going to vote for Trump. All right, let’s forget that. It’s okay for them to do it.”
The statement came as Trump accused Democrats of relying on votes of undocumented immigrants and dead people. There is no evidence to suggest that either constituency turns up to the polls and votes on election day.
“Are these people playing games with us? Right? ‘Oh, it doesn’t take place.’ These are the people that negotiate our trade deals,” he said. “These are the people that don’t know what’s going on in real life or these are the people that are just playing games with you. There is the issue of voter fraud. Isn’t it amazing how they say, ‘There’s no voter fraud.’ Folks, it’s a rigged system, and it’s a rigged election, believe me.”
Despite the national push by Republicans to rein in what they say is unchecked voter fraud in favor or Democratic candidates, in reality, there is very little evidence that voter fraud is a widespread issue or at all impactful on election results.
Several studies, including one that involved a close look at 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014, concluded that voter fraud is almost negligible. That hasn’t stopped Republicans from continually making false claims about the extent to which voter fraud sways elections, using it as an excuse to rig the electoral system in their favor via stringent voter ID laws.
As Trumps slips farther down in the polls, he’s become the latest candidate to embrace this scare tactic. But he’s likely the first presidential candidate to encourage supporters to commit voter fraud on his behalf.