Election officials and election security experts have long been clear: voter fraud is extraordinarily rare and our system has strong checks in place to protect the integrity of our voting process. These are the facts. But the facts have not stopped bad actors from trotting out baseless claims of “systemic voter fraud” to suppress votes and undermine trust in our democracy for political gain.
By all measures, the 2020 general election was one of the most secure elections in our history. Voters turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots by mail and in person, and the votes were counted in a timely manner. This success, however, did not dissuade President Trump and his enablers from loudly claiming fraud when the race did not go his way. In a brazen attempt to overturn the results, he unleashed an onslaught of outlandish claims about widespread fraud in the election, shamelessly targeting the votes of Black and Latino citizens in several cities. The severity of the allegations by the president and his allies, however false, has elicited a resounding rebuke of the myth of widespread voter fraud from officials at every level of government. And today, the Supreme Court all but ended the legal fight to overturn the election when it rejected Texas’s lawsuit to throw out the presidential election results in four battleground states that President Trump lost.
Democratic officials and civil rights leaders have been outspoken about the strength of our election systems and their trust in our election officials. And despite the alarming number of Republicans enabling Trump’s attempts to subvert democracy, there is a growing bipartisan coalition of leaders united behind the facts. What follows is a collection of definitive statements rejecting the myth of widespread voter fraud from federal agencies; the courts, including Trump-appointed judges; and Republican election officials and elected officials.
The nation’s top intelligence and law enforcement agencies have confirmed that there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in American elections and that the 2020 election was secure.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- “We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise.” – Christopher Wray, FBI Director, September 24, 2020, hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. (Director Wray was appointed by President Trump in 2017.)
Department of Homeland Security – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
- “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history . . . . There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised . . . While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections . . . we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too.” – Joint Statement by CISA, the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC), and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council (SCC), November 12, 2020.
- “[Election] Day was quiet. There was no indication or evidence that there was any evidence of hacking or compromise of election systems on, before, or after November 3 . . . . We did a good job. I would do it one thousand times over.” – Chris Krebs, Former Director of CISA, November 29, 2020.
Shortly after releasing the joint statement, Chris Krebs was fired from his position as director of CISA. His firing was directly linked to the joint statement in a tweet by President Trump. In a 60 Minutes interview, Krebs reflected on his agency’s work and described the Trump team’s claims of fraud as attempts to “undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people . . . ”
Department of Justice (DOJ)
- “To date, [DOJ investigators] have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” – Attorney General William Barr, December 1, 2020, announcement.
This conclusion was especially notable in light of Attorney General Barr’s extraordinary efforts to support President Trump’s ludicrous fraud allegations. In a break from long-standing DOJ policy, Barr announced in a November 9 memorandum that federal prosecutors were authorized to investigate some election fraud cases before the results of the election were certified, and noted that there may be irregularities that “could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.” The directive was roundly criticized by many former DOJ officials and elections experts.
Richard Pilger, head of the DOJ’s Election Crimes branch, responded to the move by stepping down from his position. Twenty-three Democratic attorneys general signed a letter expressing confidence that “any such investigations will not succeed in overturning the election’s outcome,” but criticizing the move for exacting “the terrible cost of undermining trust in the democratic institutions on which this country depends.” In another critical letter, 16 U.S. attorneys who track election malfeasance noted that the “policy change was not based in fact” and confirmed that in their jurisdictions there was no evidence of substantial election irregularities.
U.S. Election Assistance Commission
- “Time and time again, when the rubber hits the road, there's no evidence — whether that's in court cases, whether that's in the presidential commission that was created in 2017 to find the alleged non-citizens fraud after the 2016 election that cost, in his mind, the president the popular vote, but found nothing and disbanded in embarrassment, or academic studies. We never see evidence of widespread voter fraud. And there's no indicators that 2020 will be different in that regard.” – Benjamin Hovland, Commissioner of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Business Insider, November 12, 2020
The courts have emphatically rejected claims of widespread election fraud and irregularities from President Trump and his allies. Despite bringing roughly 50 postelection lawsuits at the time of this writing, Trump and his allies have failed to discount a significant number of votes, block the certification of results, or overturn the results of any race.
In a number of these cases, courts have forcefully rebuked the lawyers for their outlandish claims of voter fraud, egregious lack of evidence, and attempted misuse of the judiciary.
United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
- “This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together . . . . This Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.” – Judge Matthew Brann, rejecting an attempt by Trump campaign to throw out all the votes in Pennsylvania based in part on unsubstantiated insinuations of voter fraud, in Donald J. Trump for President v. Boockvar, November 21, 2020
Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan
- “‘Plaintiffs’ interpretation of events is incorrect and not credible.” – Chief Justice Timothy Kenny, rejecting attempt by Trump allies to block the certification of the vote in Wayne County, in Costantino v. City of Detroit, November 13, 2020
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- “Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.” – Trump-appointed Judge Stephanos Bibas, rejecting motion to block certification of election results in Pennsylvania in an unanimous opinion, in Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, November 27, 2020
Wisconsin Supreme Court
- “At stake, in some measure, is faith in our system of free and fair elections, a feature central to the enduring strength of our constitutional republic. It can be easy to blithely move on to the next case with a petition so obviously lacking, but this is sobering. The relief being sought by the petitioners is the most dramatic invocation of judicial power I have ever seen. Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election.” – Judge Brian Hagedorn (concurring), rejecting request to nullify Wisconsin’s presidential results, allow the state legislature to appoint its own slate of electors, and compel the governor to approve said electors, in Wisconsin Voters Alliance v. Wisconsin Election Commission, December 4, 2020
Election Officials and Experts
New York Times Survey of Election Officials
- “Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race . . . ” – New York Times, November 10, 2020
The Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state. Notably, all 29 Republican secretaries of state were surveyed, most responding directly to the Times. None reported any major voting issues, refusing to back up Trump’s portrait of a fraudulent election.
59 Election Security Experts and Computer Scientists
- “Anyone asserting that a U.S. election was ‘rigged’ is making an extraordinary claim, one that must be supported by persuasive and verifiable evidence . . .” In the absence of such evidence, they added, it is “simply speculation.” – Letter from 59 of the country’s top election security experts and computer scientists, November 16, 2020
- “We are aware of alarming assertions being made that the 2020 election was ‘rigged’ by exploiting technical vulnerabilities. However, in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.” Letter from 59 of the country’s top election security experts and computer scientists, November 16, 2020
Gabriel Sterling (R), Georgia’s Voting Systems Implementation Manager
- [Claims of voter fraud] are “hoaxes and nonsense. Don’t buy into these things. Find trusted sources.” – Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2020
- “It has to stop,” Sterling said, reacting to Trump’s sustained assaults on Georgia’s election process and resulting violent threats to local election officials. – New York Times, December 1, 2020
Scott Schwab (R), Kansas Secretary of State
- “Kansas did not experience any widespread, systematic issues with voter fraud, intimidation, irregularities or voting problems . . . . We are very pleased with how the election has gone up to this point.” – Spokeswoman for Secretary Schwab, New York Times, November 10, 2020
Kim Wyman (R), Washington Secretary of State
- Of attempts by Republican candidates to raise accusations of fraud, Wyman said “it’s just throwing grass at the fence at this point . . . see what sticks.” – New York Times, November 10, 2020
Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R), Kent County Clerk
- “We’ve just got a lot of checks and balances and transparency here in Michigan, and in Kent County we take that very seriously. I am 100% confident in the results in Kent County, and I’m confident that our canvass, once it’s all concluded, will validate that.” – USA Today, November 14, 2020
Elected Officials and Political Operatives
While the courts, federal agencies, and election officials have roundly rejected claims of widespread voter fraud, perhaps the sharpest — albeit surprising — rebukes have come from key elected officials and political operatives within the Republican party.
Ben Ginsberg, Veteran Republican Party Election Lawyer
- “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged.” – Washington Post, September 8, 2020
- “Proof of systematic fraud has become the Loch Ness Monster of the Republican Party. People have spent a lot of time looking for it, but it doesn’t exist.” – Washington Post, November 1, 2020
- “As he confronts losing, Trump has devoted his campaign and the Republican Party to this myth of voter fraud . . . . Perhaps this was the plan all along . . . disenfranchising enough voters has become key to his reelection strategy.” – Washington Post, November 1, 2020 (Ginsberg has practiced election law for 38 years.)
Karl Rove, Former Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff to George W. Bush
- “The president’s efforts are unlikely to move a single state from Mr. Biden’s column, and certainly they’re not enough to change the final outcome.” – Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2020
- “Mr. Trump must prove systemic fraud, with illegal votes in the tens of thousands. There is no evidence of that so far.” – Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2020
Letter from 31 Former Republican Members of Congress
- “As former Republican Members of Congress who swore an oath to the Constitution, we believe the statements by President Trump alleging fraud in the election are efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the election and are unacceptable.” – The Hill, November 9, 2020
Will Hurd (R), Representative of Texas’s 23rd District
- “A sitting president undermining our political process & questioning the legality of the voices of countless Americans without evidence is not only dangerous & wrong, it undermines the very foundation this nation was built upon. Every American should have his or her vote counted." – The Hill, November 5, 2020
Adam Kinzinger (R), Republican Representative of Illinois’s 16th District
- “STOP spreading debunked misinformation…This is getting insane” – Twitter, November 5, 2020
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R)
- “There is no defense for the president’s comments undermining our Democratic process . . . . No election or person is more important than our Democracy.” – Twitter, November 5, 2020
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst (R)
- “We believe in honesty. We believe in the integrity of our election system, which is why I do believe that if there is fraud out there, it should be brought to the court's attention and the proof should be brought forward. I think all of us agree on that. But to insinuate that Republican and Democratic candidates paid to throw off this election I think is absolutely outrageous . . . to have that accusation just offhandedly thrown out there just to confuse our voters across the United States, I think that is absolutely wrong.” – Fox News Radio, November 19, 2020
Utah Senator Mitt Romney (R)
- “[The president] is wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupt or stolen — doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic, and recklessly inflames destruction and dangerous passions.” – Twitter, November 6, 2020
- “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election. It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.” – Twitter, November 19, 2020
Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy (R)
- “President Trump’s legal team has not presented evidence of the massive fraud which would have had to be present to overturn the election. I voted for President Trump but Joe Biden won.” – Twitter, November 23, 2020
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey (R)
- After it emerged that Trump called Pennsylvania's Republican state House speaker seeking help to reverse his loss in the state, Sen. Toomey told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “It’s completely unacceptable and it’s not going to work and the president should give up trying to get legislatures to overturn the results of the elections in their respective states.”
- Trump’s frustration with Democrats “doesn’t change the obligation of the president’s campaign to acknowledge that they have not been able to demonstrate that there’s been fraud, not on any significant scale.” – Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 2020
- “That has been determined by election officials, that has been determined by federal judges, that’s been determined by appellate court judges. That’s the opinion of the attorney general, who is a Donald Trump appointee. So in my view the outcome of the election is clear and that is that Joe Biden won the election.” – Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 2020