In Their Own Words: Officials Refuting False Claims of Voter Fraud

President Trump recently revived his false claim of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, and called for an investigation into the issue. Elected officials, election administrators, experts, and leaders from across the political spectrum have spoken out against these untrue allegations.

April 13, 2017

President Trump recently revived his false claim of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, and called for an investigation into the issue. Claims of election “rigging” and fraudulent voting have been debunked in study after study. Elected officials, election administrators, experts, and leaders from across the political spectrum have spoken out against these untrue allegations. 

Since President Trump has revived his false claims of widespread voter fraud and called for an investigation, fellow Republicans are among those refuting this allegation: 

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), in response to Trump’s claims that millions of individuals illegally voted, said: “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect. I’ve made that very, very clear...”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said: “… I am begging the president, share with us the information you have about this or please stop saying it… As a matter of fact, I’d like you do more than stop saying it, I’d like you to come forward and say, ‘Having looked at it, I am confident the election was fair and accurate and people who voted voted legally.’ Cause if he doesn’t do that, this is going to undermine his ability to govern this country.” He added: “I would urge the president to knock this off; this is the greatest democracy on earth, we’re the leader of the free world, and people are going to start doubting you as a person if you keep making accusations against our electoral system without justification...”

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), in response to Trump’s claims, said: “That doesn't do anybody any good. That doesn't help him. That doesn't help any of us...”

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said: “I don't see the evidence [of election fraud].”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said: “There's no evidence of [voter fraud] and I think that those who allege that have to come up with some substantiation of the claim...”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabeea Republican, said: “I have no evidence whatsoever, and I don't know that anyone does, that there were that many illegal people who voted…”

Senator John Thune (R-SD), on the topic of voter fraud, said: “I haven't seen evidence to that effect.” 

Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said Trump’s claim of mass voter fraud “undermines the idea of an election.”

President of the New Hampshire Senate Chuck Morse, a Republican, said: “I have been assured by the secretary of state that our elections are good and clean.”

 

In addition, election officials have also pushed back against this claim: 

U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair Matthew Masterson, a Republican, when asked if he thought the 2016 election was rigged, said: “No. The process had integrity. It was extremely well administered. And in the end, the people’s voice was heard and the process served voters well.” He added: “[Voters] should know one fact: This election – this election process, this vote, the voting machines – were not accessed, were not hacked. The process was secure.”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, in response to Trump’s tweet, tweeted: “We conducted a review 4 years ago in Ohio & already have a statewide review of 2016 election underway. Easy to vote, hard to cheat #Ohio

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, a Republican, in a statement, said: “Louisiana did not have any widespread irregularities or allegations of fraud during the 2016 Presidential Election Cycle.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, released a series of tweets condemning Trump’s fraud allegations:

○ Jan 23: “Trump continues to falsely allege millions of fraudulent votes. Still no proof. Not an #alternativefact, just a #lie. #DefendDemocracy” 

○ Jan 24: “#Trump is dangerously attacking the legitimacy of free and fair elections and taking a jackhammer to the foundation of our democracy.”

○ Jan 25: “@RealDonaldTrump should investigate Russian interference in our elections, not fake claims of voter fraud intended to suppress voting rights”

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, said that the “allegations are simply not true” and that she was “extremely concerned that President Trump is pushing these voter fraud lies to justify future efforts making it harder to vote.”

Dean Logan, the Los Angeles County voter registrar, when asked about non-citizens trying to vote, said: “I’ve never seen any incident of that… there are severe penalties. It’s a felony.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, in a statement, said: “Voter fraud is rare…”

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said: “We don’t have [voter fraud]... We think we do it right.”

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, said: “There is no evidence of voters illegally casting ballots at the most recent election in Nevada...”

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, a Democrat, said: “It is outrageous that the President continues to make unsubstantiated claims about alleged widespread voter fraud.”

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, said: “…as I stated when [Trump] raised this issue last fall, I am confident the election system in Washington state is secure and prevents illegal voting.” 

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, a Republican, wrote in a letter to Trump: “I'm pleased to report that in Oregon we have reviewed the processes and we are confident that voter fraud in last November's election did not occur in Oregon.” He also encouraged Trump to “return full authority over elections to the states.”

Former West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat, tweeted: “there has been no evidence of millions of illegal votes.”

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, said: “To claim, without a shred of evidence, that millions of ‘illegal votes’ were cast does nothing but undermine people’s confidence in democracy...”

Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, called Trump’s claim “a lie” and said “there is absolutely no reason” to think that fraud occurred in the most recent election.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, described voter fraud as “part of a national script” Republicans use to “make it harder for people to vote.”

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, said: “I know of no widespread voter fraud...”

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat, in a statement: “...unsubstantiated voter fraud claims undermine our democracy and disparage the hundreds of thousands of hard-working election officials across our great nation.”

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, said: “President Trump’s assertion that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election is completely unsubstantiated...”

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, called the claims “false and irresponsible” and expressed concern that the comments “could have the dangerous effect of undermining confidence in the electoral system.” 

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, a Republican, said her office “can say with… confidence that we didn’t have widespread voter fraud in Arizona.”

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, said that the allegations were “outrageous lies.”

Meredith Beatrice, a spokeswoman for Florida’s Secretary of State, said: “[We are] not aware of documented findings of illegal immigrants or non-citizens voting in Florida during the 2016 General Election. We have several safeguards in place to prevent elections fraud.”

Wanda Murren, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, in an email: “We have no evidence at all of voter fraud. There is no evidence that undocumented immigrants voted in November.”

Nikki Charlson, Maryland State Board of Elections Deputy Administrator, said: “In Maryland we have had no coordinated effort to impact the outcome of the election...”

Erv Switzer, Chairman of the Saint Louis Board of Elections Commissioners, said: “We had absolutely no indication there were any fraudulent votes cast on November 8th and no indication of any fraudulent votes cast in any general election for a number of years.”

David Dove, chief of staff to Georgia’s Secretary of State, said: “We haven’t had illegal votes in Georgia...”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote in a letter to Congress: “We did not receive a single substantiated claim of voter fraud… The lack of such complaints made directly to my office, as well as the absence of referrals from other agencies, leads me to conclude that voter fraud — the act of an ineligible individual casting a vote in an election—is a non-issue, at least in New York State.”

The National Association of Secretaries of State, in a press release, stated: “We are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump…  In the lead up to the November 2016 election, secretaries of state expressed their confidence in the systemic integrity of our election process as a bipartisan group, and they stand behind that statement today.”

 

Even before Trump took office, officials contested his claim that the election was "rigged:"

Deputy House Majority Whip Tom Cole (R-OK), former Oklahoma Secretary of State, said: “[Voter fraud] doesn't occur on a scale vast enough to change the outcome of the presidential election. So this system broadly renders the opinion of the American people. It's done so consistently for literally hundreds of years — I think it will do it again in three weeks...”

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), in a debate, said: “Our elections may not always be completely perfect, but they are legitimate, they have integrity and everyone needs to respect the outcome.”

 

 

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), in a statement after the third presidential debate, said: “Talking about rigged elections with zero evidence is dangerous because it erodes trust without justification and kindles cynicism that undermines self-government.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office released a statement in October saying he is “confident” the election will be carried out fairly.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said the election system is “actually more secure than it’s ever been in our nation’s history.”

 

Senator Marco Rubio on Voter Fraud

 

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, said: “You would have to have a conspiracy of such grand scale that I think we would have much bigger problems than whether this election is rigged.”

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, said in a statement: “As the state's Commissioner of Elections, I can assure you Iowa's elections are not rigged.”

 

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, said: Georgia’s “battle-tested voting equipment and the election officials who manage the system have earned voters’ confidence… As Georgia’s chief elections official, I have worked tirelessly to ensure Georgians have safe, accessible, and fair elections in our state.”

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, a Republican, said: “But by and large, here in Tennessee, based on what I know, elections have been run in a very fair, honest and transparent fashion and in a very bipartisan way, frankly.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican, when asked if the election is rigged, said: “No! ... Look, to say that elections are rigged and all these votes are stolen, that’s like saying we never landed on the moon, frankly. That’s how silly it is...”

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, said she has “full confidence" in Michigan elections: “In Michigan, we have the checks and balances to make sure that the elections will be done properly, with integrity...”

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, said: “Claims that our elections are rigged are fanatical scare tactics and bear no resemblance to the truth...”

Ben Ginsberg, national counsel to Romney for President, when asked if there was proof of widespread voter fraud, said: “Not in-person voter fraud. No.”

 

Senator Lindsey Graham on Voter Fraud

 

Mark Braden, a Republican election lawyersaid though there have been occasional cases of voter fraud, “the election system in the United States generally works extremely well, and fraud, although real, is modest.”

Chris Ashby, a Republican election lawyer, wrote: “To the contrary, our election laws anticipate human error and cheating, and guard against them at multiple levels. The result is a system of voting that is one of the cleanest and best in the world — in which all citizens should have faith and confidence.”

Al Schmidt, Vice Chairman of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, a Republican, in a press conference, said: “The real threat to the integrity of elections in Philadelphia isn't voter fraud, though it does rarely occur… And it isn't even Russian hackers, though they may certainly exist. The real threat to the integrity of elections is irresponsible accusations that undermine confidence in the electoral process.”

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, said: “It is so irresponsible because what he’s doing really goes to the heart of our democracy,” when commenting on Trump’s claims of voter fraud. “What is great about America is that we change our leaders at the ballot box, not by bullets...”

Sherrie Swensen, Salt Lake County Clerk, when asked if voter fraud would occur said: “No. Because we have so many people working on various aspects of the election.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said: “No one has suggested to me there’s evidence of what he said,” in response to Trump’s Nov. 27 tweet alleging widespread voter fraud. Graham added: “And if there is not evidence, please stop saying that.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, in a statement: “[Trump's] unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a president-elect.”

Former Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, a Democrat, said: “For there to be some sort of systematic ‘rigging’ of the election system, fifty-six county election administrators, their staff, and the fine citizens who work the polls would have to be somehow colluding with other unknown perpetrators. This is absurd, and is not happening.”

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, a Republican, said it is “nearly impossible” for her state’s voter system to be hacked.

Former Attorney General of New Hampshire Tom Rath, a Republicantweeted: “This will probably cost me my spot in the Cabinet but there was no fraud, serious or other, in this election in NH. There just wasn't.”

Virginia Commissioner of Elections Edgardo Cortés said: “The claims of voter fraud in Virginia during the November 8 election are unfounded... The election was fair and all votes cast by eligible voters were accurately counted.”

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrichwhen asked if he sees evidence of millions of illegal votes cast said “no.”

Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, who oversees elections, called Trump’s voter fraud claims “dangerous” and said that he is “very, very confident that the results are what the results are... It's unfortunate that those are being brought up without any evidence, completely unsubstantiated. It does erode confidence in what is the bedrock foundation of our democratic republic, of our country.”

David M. Scanlan, New Hampshire Senior Deputy Secretary of State and head of the Election Divisionin response to Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, said: “There’s no indication of anything that widespread taking place in New Hampshire....The perception and the reality are both very important in this process.” He said, “so if the President-elect has information that suggests there’s something going on that is contrary to what we understand, he ought to present that information so it can be acted on.” He added: “When comments like that are made we become very concerned about the perception, which sometimes is more important than the reality when it comes to conducting elections because the voters need to feel confident that their votes are counted accurately.”

Brian Buonamano, Former Assistant Attorney General of New Hampshiresaid: “I do not see any indication of a coordinated effort to conduct voter fraud on a large scale in the state of New Hampshire.... There is no indication of that. That’s not to say there aren’t potentially isolated incidents in any election, but not the kind of massive coordinated thing the President-elect appears to be referencing, although I’m not sure exactly what he is referencing.”

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, said: “No evidence of voter fraud in this past election has been brought to my attention...”

Ruth Talmadge, Augusta County, VA Electoral Board Chairwomanin response to Trump’s tweet accusing Virginia of voter fraud said: “I’m not being cocky, but we just don’t... We had no malfunctions at all, we had no hesitations and our officers of election, at our training sessions, we briefed them thoroughly and to make any note of any hiccup that our equipment showed.”

James Kivlighan, Former Staunton County, VA Electoral Board Chairmansaid: “I honestly have no idea how you can have voter fraud, we’re very very careful… I think that he’s just wrong… I just don’t see it, I take my job very very seriously.”

Lisa Jeffers, Waynesboro, VA Registrarsaid: “I feel very comfortable and confident that the election was exactly as people wanted to see it turn out.”

Former New Mexico Secretary of State Brad Winter, a Republican, said: “We have such a great system, because everything is backed up by a paper ballot.” On the topic of Trump’s recent claim that “millions” committed voter fraud he said, “there’s nothing on that scale.”

California Assembly Member Chad Mayes, a Republican, said “I don't think there's widespread fraud in California...”

Matt Roberts, the spokesman for Arizona’s Secretary of State, said: “We haven’t received any complaints to our office or any word of suspicious activity, and we would definitely hear it.”

Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray, a Republican, in a statement, said: “Wyoming’s County Clerks and I are able to state categorically that Wyoming’s election process will not be ‘rigged’ or 'hacked’...” 

Jim Tenuto, Former Assistant Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, when asked about instances of voter fraud in his state said: “Nothing at all, really.”

Meg Casper, the spokeswoman for Louisiana’s Secretary of State, on the topic of fraud claims, said: “You call up and say there are busloads of people being dropped off in multiple parishes, and we have to check it out, even though we hear it every election... We call up the precinct office and they say, ‘No, we haven’t seen anything like that.’”

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, said: “It is frustrating for me… Among secretaries of state, we’ve been very concerned about the rhetoric around the conduct of the election… The process works.”

The National Association of Secretaries of State, in a press release, stated: “The members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) cannot allow unsubstantiated claims calling into question the systemic integrity of the election process to shake voter confidence or disrupt voting in the run-up to Election Day on November 8th… Voters must have no doubt that their votes – and votes alone – will determine the next President of the United States this November.”

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) said: “our election system does not have millions of people that have violated the process. Our states do a good job of checking it.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a Republican, said: “I looked at this election. I saw the results come in. I trusted them [the results] just as I’ve trusted them in the past… I don’t have a problem…  I say let’s govern… The election to me is over.”

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Image Credits

Header image: Tony Alter (flickr) (CC by 2.0)

Sen Graham image: John Orrell (flickr) (CC by 2.0)

Sen Rubio and Trump images: Max Goldberg (flickr) (CC by 2.0

Sen Scott image: JAXPORT (flickr) (CC by 2.0