Don’t Point to Voter Registration Fraud, or Absentee Ballot Fraud, to Defend Trump’s Irresponsible Vote-Rigging Claims

Yesterday I posted Trump’s Irresponsible Vote-Rigging Statements Literally Putting Our Democracy at Risk, in which I argued that Trump is undermining our faith in democracy itself by making irresponsible claims the election could be rigged through voter impersonation fraud and urging his followers, untrained to go to polls in “certain areas” to ferret out voter fraud.

In response to these claims, some have pointed to real instances of some kinds of fraud, as if this justifies Tump’s irresponsible claims. It does not.

As I wrote in response to such an argument on the election law listserv, in response to a claim that I deny the existence of voter fraud and am just trying to label Trump supporters as deporable, I wrote something along the lines of the following:

I never say voter fraud is non existent. In fact it happens occasionally with absentee ballots and I’ve long said we need more action to stop it. I’ve also said we need to clean up voter registration rolls to stop registration fraud. What is extremely rare and has not affected any election we know of since the 1980s is impersonation fraud, the kind of fraud state voter ID laws are meant to stop. See my 2012 book, The Voting Wars. 

As far as the stories showing voter registration Fraud or absentee voting fraud, I have linked to other stories on most of these controversies, including a story pointing out that, despite the claims of True the Vote, the cascade mall shooter was a citizen when he voted. 

More to the point, Trump’s claims involve only impersonation fraud.  Here’s what I wrote on that in an LA Times oped:

Trump contends that without strict voter identification laws, people can vote five, 10 or 15 times. He’s offered no evidence to back up this assertion, and for good reason. Even in states with modest means of identifying voters, such as comparing voters’ signatures in the poll ledger and on registration forms, there are safeguards to ensure against multiple voting.

In recent memory, the only publicized case involving someone voting in high multiples was a supporter of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was up for a recall. The voter tried to vote  five times in the recall and seven more times in four other elections. He was easily caught, well before Wisconsin passed its strict voter ID law. The voter claimed amnesia; his lawyer argued he suffered from mental illness. The case shows this isn’t a problem that’s going to happen on a grand scale….

Over the weekend, Trump upped his dangerous rhetoric, suggesting that in November cheating at the polls in “certain sections of the state” would hand Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to Clinton. Never mind that Clinton is ahead in that battleground state by about 9 percentage points. Trump’s “certain sections” reference is a dog whistle to those who wrongly believe that urban areas such as Philadelphia, with large black populations, are sites of rampant voter fraud.

Trump’s website is also recruiting “observers”  to stop “Crooked Hillary” from “rigging this election.” What exactly these observers’ duties or training would consist of is unspecified. Fair and legal election observation is possible and even desirable, but there’s a reason most states have laws against anything that might be construed as voter intimidation near polling places.


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