When confronted with the embarrassing fact that Hillary Clinton outpolled him by almost 3 million popular votes in the 2016 election, Donald Trump claimed it was due to “millions of cases of voter fraud.” This outlandish accusation, like so many others, is supported by no tangible evidence whatsoever.
Once common in certain areas a half-century or more ago, voter fraud is so rare today as to be almost nonexistent. In former days of northern big-city political machines and segregation-based southern rural-county political oligarchies — both Democrat strongholds, I might add — election fraud was both common and routinely overlooked. The joke back then was “vote early and often.” And many people did.
Voter impersonation or fraud occurs when a person otherwise ineligible to vote castes a ballot under the name of a fictitious, relocated or deceased voter. But there is little evidence that fraud has altered the results of any U.S. elections in the last half-century. On the other hand, unnecessarily restrictive voter registration laws, called “voter suppression,” have resulted in voting-eligible Americans being prevented from registering to vote. Particularly affected are non-whites, seniors, lower-income people and those in the overseas military.
In former President Lyndon Johnson’s first Texas Senate race in 1948 which he won by a razor-thin margin, there was suspected ballot box tampering. This earned him the nickname “Landslide Lyndon.” But these once-common irregularities were quickly curtailed when computerized voter registration and ballot counting were introduced. Even though absentee voting fraud cannot always be deterred by voter ID laws, ABC News reported in 2012 that there were only four cases of voter impersonation that led to convictions in Texas over the previous decade.
Closer to home, a 2012 study found no evidence of Georgians voting for a dead or relocated person in the 2006 general election. And in 2016 News21 reviewed potential voter fraud cases in five states where politicians had expressed concerns. They found 38 total balloting irregularities in these states from 2012 to 2016, none of which involved voter impersonation. Another study showed an infinitesimal 0.0000003 cases of fraud for every vote cast. Trump needs to do the math before yelling “foul!” But speaking further of Georgia, 80 polling places in the Atlanta area have been selectively closed since March. 16,000 voters must now vote at one polling place where voting machines are frequently down. Any comments here, Madame Mayor or Governor Kemp?
Although there are still occasional problems with out-of-date registration records due to people relocating or dying, this is being constantly monitored by computerized programs designed to clean up the voter rolls after each election. Today voter impersonation is a complicated and risky thing to try and the possibility of success is so extremely low it seems hardly worth the effort.
Like so many other Trump lies and exaggerations, these overblown voter fraud accusations are frauds themselves. But this doesn’t seem to bother Trump’s loyal supporters. To them all that counts is his anti-abortion position, lower taxes for the wealthy and his loyalty to the right-wing agenda.
Trump’s recent blaming of his poor showing in the 2016 presidential election popular vote on voter fraud is, like so many of his other wild accusations, completely unsupported by facts.
And guess who votes from Florida by a mail-in absentee ballot when he’s down there golfing?