Despite claims, Trump commission did not find widespread voter fraud

The now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released Friday.

In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who are both Republicans and led the commission, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said the documents show there was a “pre-ordained outcome” and that drafts of a commission report included a section on evidence of voter fraud that was “glaringly empty.”

“It’s calling into the darkness, looking for voter fraud,” Dunlap, a Democrat, told The Associated Press. “There’s no real evidence of it anywhere.”

Republican President Donald Trump convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million ballots were illegally cast. Critics, including Dunlap, reject his claims of widespread voter fraud.

The Trump administration last month complied with a court order to turn over documents from the voting integrity commission to Dunlap. The commission met just twice and has not issued a report.

Dunlap’s findings received immediate pushback Friday from Kobach, who acted as vice chair of the commission while Pence served as chair.

“For some people, no matter how many cases of voter fraud you show them, there will never be enough for them to admit that there’s a problem,” said Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor and has a good chance of unseating the incumbent, Jeff Colyer, in the Republican primary Tuesday.

“It appears that Secretary Dunlap is willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” Kobach said in a statement released by his spokesman.

Kobach said there have been more than 1,000 convictions for voter fraud since 2000, and that the commission presented 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election in 20 states.

“Had the commission done the same analysis of all 50 states, the number would have been exponentially higher,” Kobach said.

In response, Dunlap said those figures were never brought before the commission, and that Kobach hasn’t presented any evidence for his claims of double voting. He said the commission was presented with a report claiming over 1,000 convictions for various forms of voter misconduct since 1948.

“The plural of anecdote is not data,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter to the shuttered commission’s leaders.

Pence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Dunlap said he is unsure whether the administration has released all relevant documents, and said the matter is in litigation. He said he was repeatedly rebuffed when he sought access to commission records including meeting materials, witness invitations and correspondence.

Dunlap released his findings on a website .

Emails released by Dunlap and promoted by the nonprofit American Oversight, which represented Dunlap, include examples of Republican voting integrity commissioners emailing each other as they worked on information requests without including Democrats.

“Indeed, a very few commissioners worked to buttress their pre-ordained conclusions shielded from dissent or dialogue from those commissioners not included in the discussions,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter.

In a June 2017 email, commissioner Christy McCormick unsuccessfully tried to suggest that the commission hire a statistician she knew. “When I was at DOJ, we had numerous discussions that made me pretty confident that he is conservative (and Christian, too),” said McCormick, in reference to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The emails also show some commission members had planned to ask for an interstate database used to identify duplicate voter registrations, as well as lists of individuals deemed ineligible for federal jury service due to death, relocation, convictions or lack of citizenship. It wasn’t clear in the emails whether or not such requests ended up being fulfilled, Dunlap said.

In two November 2017 emails, Republican commission member and election lawyer J. Christian Adams emailed all members and said there hadn’t been any prosecutions for double voting or any non-citizen voting in years. “Understanding the extent of un-prosecuted and known election crimes can inform the commission’s recommendations,” Adams said.

Adams also called for U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to obtain metadata from citizenship applications as well as a list of individuals removed from the U.S. due to their unlawful participation in elections.

“Many applicants note they have been registered to vote and are voting,” Adams said.

[Associated Press]

Trump revives debunked accusation of massive vote fraud in California

President Trump on Thursday revived a long-debunked claim about massive voter fraud in California, telling an audience in West Virginia that “millions and millions of people” had voted illegally in the state.

“In many places, like California, the same person votes many times,” Trump said. “You probably heard about that. They always like to say ‘oh that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”

Trump first made that accusation shortly after his election, saying that he only lost the popular vote because of illegal voting in California. After his inauguration, the administration set up a commission to look into voter fraud. It was eventually disbanded and did not come up with any evidence to back Trump’s theories.

The president stopped talking about voter fraud in public after taking criticism from Republican elected officials for making unsubstantiated charges about misconduct, not only in California but in other states that he lost, such as New Hampshire. But he never completely stopped raising the issue in private, according to people who have spoken with him.

In recent weeks, he’s been more assertive about publicly discussing some of his grievances — voter fraud being one.

Allegations of voter fraud have been investigated in California. Although some limited cases have been found, no evidence of large-scale fraud has ever surfaced.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump: Ayotte Would Have Won Senate Reelection If Not For Voter Fraud

President Trump has long claimed, without presenting any evidence, that he would have won the popular vote if it weren’t for widespread voter fraud. Now he’s using that same assertion to explain why former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s lost her seat in November, Politico reported Friday.

During a closed-door meeting with a group of senators from both parties on Thursday, Trump digressed from a planned discussion of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to talk about the elections, arguing that he and Ayotte both should have won the vote in New Hampshire, according to Politico.

According to Trump, Ayotte’s reelection bid was foiled by “thousands” of people from Massachusetts illegally casting ballots in the Granite State, meeting participants told Politico. One source said that the room fell silent after the remark.

Ayotte, who is currently serving as a “sherpa” liaison between the White House and senators for Gorsuch’s nomination, was at the meeting.

Though he has cited unsubstantiated voter fraud in the presidential race before, this is the first time he has mentioned it in connection with down-ballot contests.

Trump began making claims of voter fraud before the 2016 general elections but doubled down on the idea after his Electoral College win. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million ballots.

Trump revived the illegal-voting claims just days after he took the oath of office last month, allegedly saying in a meeting with congressional leaders that he lost the popular vote because “3 to 5 million ‘illegals’ ” cast ballots.

Later that week, he followed up on the claim, announcing in a string of tweets that he would launch a “major investigation” of voter fraud, including cases of individuals registered to vote in multiple states and deceased people who have not been taken off state voting rolls.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Stands by Unsubstantiated Voter Fraud Claims: ‘It’s Really a Bad Situation’

President Trump in a new interview seemingly defends his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, maintaining that illegal immigrants and “dead people” around the U.S. were registered to vote.

“Well, many people have come out and said I am right, you know that,” Trump told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly in an interview slated to air Sunday.

When O’Reilly notes that Trump needs data to back up his claim that three million undocumented immigrants voted in the election, Trump insisted “a bad situation” exists regarding voter fraud.

“Let me just tell you — when you see illegals, people that are not citizens and they are on registration rolls … look, Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people, you have this, it’s really a bad situation. It’s really bad.”

Trump threatened last month to launch “a major investigation” into voter fraud in order to “strengthen up voting procedures,” though the White House has since not provided details on such an effort.

“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and….even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time),” Trump wrote last month.

“Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” he added at the time.

(h/t The Hill)

Media

Without Evidence, Trump Tells Lawmakers 3 Million to 5 million Illegal Ballots Cost Him the Popular Vote

Days after being sworn in, President Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory.

Two people familiar with the meeting said Trump spent about 10 minutes at the start of the bipartisan gathering rehashing the campaign. He also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.

The discussion about Trump’s election victory and his claim that he would have won the popular vote was confirmed by a third person familiar with the meeting.

The claim is not supported by any verifiable facts, and analyses of the election found virtually no confirmed cases of voter fraud, let alone millions.

Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes. Trump won 304 electoral college votes to Clinton’s 227.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) alluded to Trump’s comments as he returned to the Capitol from the meeting Monday night.

“We talked about different electoral college, popular votes, going through the different ones,” McCarthy said. “Well, we talked about going back through past elections. Everyone in there goes through elections and stuff, so everybody’s giving their different histories of different parts.”

Asked by reporters after the meeting if Trump made any surprising statements at the gathering, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) replied, “Well, I won’t even go into that.”

(h/t Washington Post)

Media

Trump Tweets New Voter Fraud Claims, Blasts CNN, But Offers No Evidence

Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter Monday night and into early Tuesday morning over a CNN report refuting his unsubstantiated claims of mass voter fraud on Election Day.

The report by CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, airing on “Anderson Cooper 360” earlier Monday, dismissed Trump’s assertion that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally” as “blatant and baseless” and accused Trump of acting as a “sore winner.” Zeleny also highlighted that the president-elect had yet to provide any “hard evidence” to back up his “staggering claims of fraud.”

In response, Trump fired off a series of tweets aimed at CNN and Zeleny, some original and some retweets of his online supporters, including one user who apparently is a teenager.

“CNN is so embarrassed by their total (100%) support of Hillary Clinton, and yet her loss in a landslide, that they don’t know what to do,” the president-elect said.

Quoting a tweet directed at Zeleny that panned him as “just another generic CNN part time wannabe journalist,” Trump added: “CNN still doesn’t get it. They will never learn!”

In another quoted tweet, Trump cited a 16-year-old Twitter user who cast Zeleny as a “bad reporter.”

Zeleny replied: “Good evening! Have been looking for examples of voter fraud. Please send our way. Full-time journalist here still working.”

Trump continued his criticism into Tuesday morning, tweeting at 6:34 a.m.: “I thought that @CNN would get better after they failed so badly in their support of Hillary Clinton however, since election, they are worse!”

Trump’s Sunday claim of mass voter fraud in California, Virginia and New Hampshire was rebuffed by officials in all three states Monday.

“We have heard claims like this in the past, relative to our elections, but we have been provided no evidence that suggests that there is voter fraud on a widespread scale in New Hampshire,” David Scanlan, New Hampshire’s deputy secretary of state, told POLITICO in a phone interview Monday.

(h/t Politico)

Trump Poll-Watching Plan Stirs Voter Intimidation Fears

Donald Trump’s call for volunteer election monitors is raising fears about voter intimidation at the polls this fall.

“We’re going to watch Pennsylvania,” Trump told a crowd in Altoona, Pennsylvania Friday night. “Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times. If you do that, we’re not going to lose. The only way we can lose, in my opinion — I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on.”

“We have to call up law enforcement and we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching,” Trump added.

At the time Trump made these statements he was down 9.2% to Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, according to Real Clear Politics.

Trump’s campaign followed up by asking visitors to its website to sign up to be a “Trump Election Observer.” Those who do so receive an email declaring: “We are going to do everything we are legally allowed to do to stop crooked Hillary from rigging this election. Someone from the campaign will be contacting you soon.”

Trump’s claim that people might vote five times—at other campaign stops he’s said it could be ten or even fifteen times—is belied by the facts.

One study by Justin Levitt, a respected expert and Loyola Law School professor, found just 31 incidents of voter impersonation fraud out of over 1 billion votes cast across 14 years. That is a voter fraud rate of 0.0000031%, and not worth the time, effort, and tax dollars. Others have found similar results.

Pennsylvania passed a voter ID law in 2012. It was later struck down, in part because the state was unable to point to a single case of in-person voter fraud to justify it. Other states have issued Republican-led voter ID laws, which have been losing in the courts because they specifically targeted minority groups, which are more likely to vote Democrat.

The Trump campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment. But campaign spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement to NPR: “To be clear, liberals love to throw out the voter intimidation card. What we’re advocating are open, fair and honest elections.”

That’s not calming the fears of voting rights advocates.

“There is no room in the election process for untrained ‘election watchers’ who may bring their own biases to the process, and scrutinize — and thereby intimidate — voters who don’t look like them,” said Kristen Clarke, the executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Clarke’s group conducts its own election monitoring, but with the goal of ensuring that eligible voters are able to cast a ballot.

Some Trump supporters also are noting that Barack Obama had his own “Voter Protection Program” in 2008. But that effort, too, was aimed at lawyers to protect the rights of legitimate voters. It explicitly told volunteers not to challenge voters’ eligibility.

Trump’s new program, by contrast, appears more like the election monitoring conducted by True the Vote, a Tea-Party-linked group that aimed to root out voter fraud and have drawn charges of voter intimidation. In 2010, Harris County, Texas, officials said they’d received several complaints of True the Vote volunteers being disruptive, NBC reported. And two years later, some Ohio voters complained of receiving official letters telling them their right to vote was being challenged, after they were targeted by the group. One True the Vote leader told volunteers in 2012 that the group’s goal was to give voters a feeling “like driving and seeing the police following you.”

Adding to concerns is that Trump’s call for volunteer observers comes not long after the U.S. Justice Department announced it will reduce the number of federal election observers it deploys to the polls this fall, who are charged with preventing voter suppression and intimidation. The Justice Department has said the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling weakening the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder, required the move, though some voting rights advocates disagree.

Donald McGahn, a top election lawyer for the Trump campaign, has met with a Republican lawyers group that’s planning its own poll-monitoring program, The Washington Post reported.

“What they want to do is create a pretty select, Navy SEAL-type operation that takes the data we’re able to provide and deploy resources of the highest caliber,” Randy Evans, the chairman of the lawyers group, told the paper. “If you have 7,000 lawyers on the ground, and 200 sophisticated election attorneys on call, you can move quickly.”

(h/t NBC News)

Reality

The key difference between Trump’s proposal and the Obama’s 2008 “Voter Protection Program” initiative was that only meant for lawyers to be strictly observers of voter intimidation. This was a response to reports that Republicans engage in suppression of voting in the previous general election back in 2004.

There was an incident in 2008 where members of the New Black Panther Party engaged in voter intimidation incident in Philadelphia. While that was an issue, it was just a single case that involved 2 people, working independently, and outside of any officially sanctioned program.

Contrast this with Trump’s plan, which would be an actual sanctioned plan, appears to “make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.” which is the same language used by groups like True the Vote which actively engage in voter intimidation using “caging” and other techniques. Thus the concern.

Media