Skip Navigation

Trump’s Phantom Fraud Probe

The president’s call for a “major investigation” into nonexistent voter fraud seems ripe for a politicized witch hunt.

  • Jennifer L. Clark
January 26, 2017

Cross-posted at U.S. News & World Report.

President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he wants a “major investigation” into voter fraud. The announcement comes on the heels of the president’s meeting with a group of legislators this week where he said he only lost the popular vote because millions of noncitizens cast ballots. Voter fraud has become a regular Trump trope. Throughout the campaign he charged the election was “rigged.”

There is no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud, but the cause for concern is real. A voter fraud probe could easily devolve into a politicized witch hunt. Moreover, it sounded like the investigation could be used to justify efforts to restrict voting rights. “Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” the president wrote.

If Trump’s investigation is truly thorough and independent, and evidenced-based, it will reach the same conclusion as other such investigations in the past decade: Election fraud of any kind is rare, and some kinds are exceptionally rare. A 2012 study from Arizona State University exhaustively pulled records from every state for all alleged election fraud and found the overall election fraud rate to be “infinitesimal.” A 2012 assessment of Georgia’s 2006 election found “no evidence that election fraud was committed under the auspices of deceased registrants.” When Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a longtime proponent of voter suppression efforts, reviewed 84 million votes cast in 22 states in a search for double voting, only 14 instances of fraud were referred for prosecution, which amounts to a 0.00000017 percent fraud rate.

Voting by noncitizens is highly uncommon, and the president’s protestations to the contrary are belied by the evidence. The 2012 Arizona State study found only 56 alleged instances in a 12-year period. A 2014 Harvard University paper concluded that the “likely percent of noncitizen voters in recent U.S. elections is 0.” During an initiative last decade, the Department of Justice convicted just 14 people for noncitizen voting over a three-year period.
Read the full article at U.S. News & World Report
(Photo: ThinkStock)