President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order establishing an “election integrity” commission to investigate voter fraud.
The commission will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will serve as vice chair, the White House announced during Thursday’s press briefing.
It will “study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections” as well as “fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting,” the order says.
Trump repeatedly made baseless claims that he only lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton because of millions of illegal votes. There has so far been no evidence to support his claims.
“You can never really find, you know, there are going to be — no matter what numbers we come up with there are going to be lots of people that did things that we’re not going to find out about,” Trump said in January after taking office. “But we will find out because we need a better system where that can’t happen.”
Kobach, who served as an aide in Trump’s transition, has previously claimed “in excess of a million” people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
“We do know that there’s a very large number, and it will be impossible to ever know what the exact number is of non-citizens voting,” Kobach told Fox Business Network in January. “I think it probably was [millions]. … If you take the whole country, I think it is probably in excess of a million, if you take the entire country for sure.”
Kobach cited no evidence supporting his claim but said it was just “a projection.”
In a filing after former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein requested a recount in Michigan, Trump’s attorneys said there was no evidence of voter fraud, Business Insider reported.
“On what basis does Stein seek to disenfranchise Michigan citizens? None really, save for speculation,” the filing reads. “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
Election officials in at least 19 states and Washington, D.C. found no evidence of widespread voter fraud:
According to The Arizona Republic, “State officials say they saw no evidence of widespread problems in November’s election.” The Republic quoted Arizona’s Secretary of State Michele Reagan as saying, “We can say with pretty much confidence that we didn’t have widespread voter fraud in Arizona.” From the January 26 report:
As elections officials nationwide await President Donald Trump’s executive order for an investigation into voter fraud, state officials say they saw no evidence of widespread problems in November’s election.
“We can say with pretty much confidence that we didn’t have widespread voter fraud in Arizona,” Secretary of State Michele Reagan said after Trump signaled his intentions Jan. 25. He has delayed the formal issuance of his order, and a firm date for the announcement is not set. [The Arizona Republic, 1/27/17]
As CALMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall noted, there was “not much” voter fraud found in California, “certainly not enough to sway the election.” Rosenhall reported, “The cases the Secretary of State is investigating and those it referred to counties amount to one one-thousandth of one percent (0.001%) of the more than 23 million votes cast in California’s primary and general elections last year.” From the March 8 CALMatters report:
With President Donald Trump alleging serious voter fraud in California, and the state’s top election official calling his claim untrue, how much voter fraud is actually under investigation in the Golden State?
Not much—certainly not enough to sway the election, in which California voters chose Hillary Clinton over Trump by 4.3 million votes.
And while the California Secretary of State is investigating some cases of potential fraud, not a single case opened last year involves allegations of voting by an immigrant who is in the country illegally—a stark contrast to the picture painted by Trump.
The Secretary of State received 948 election-related complaints in 2016, according to its response to a CALmatters’ Public Records Act request. The office determined that more than half (525) did not merit criminal investigation. Of the remaining complaints, 140 are still being screened, 194 were non-criminal problems referred to local officials, and 89 triggered investigations by the Secretary of State.
The office did not provide details on the 194 cases it sent to local authorities. But of the 89 investigations the Secretary of State opened in 2016: 56 are allegations of double voting, 16 are allegations of fraudulent voter registration and 1 is an alleged case of fraudulent voting. The rest allege wrongdoing by candidates, petition circulators and others who work in the elections arena – not by voters themselves.
Together, the cases the Secretary of State is investigating and those it referred to counties amount to one one-thousandth of one percent (0.001%) of the more than 23 million votes cast in California’s primary and general elections last year. [CALMatters, 3/8/17]
As the Connecticut Post reported, “voter fraud is exceedingly rare” in the state, adding, “When improper votes are cast, it’s often the result of an honest mistake — such as someone thinking they live in Westport when, in fact, they live in Weston.” The report quoted a state election official who said, “Of 1.6 million ballots cast statewide in the 2016 election, 16 complaints are under review.” From the February 19 article:
In the world of President Donald Trump and his senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, the United States is awash in voter fraud — enough to give defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton the popular vote and a victory in New Hampshire.
But in southwestern Connecticut and the rest of the state, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. When improper votes are cast, it’s often the result of an honest mistake — such as someone thinking they live in Westport when, in fact, they live in Weston.
“When you look at the millions of votes cast in Connecticut, the number (of illegal votes) is very small,” said Michael Brandi, executive director and general counsel of Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission, which fields and investigates complaints of election-law impropriety.
Of 1.6 million ballots cast statewide in the 2016 election, 16 complaints are under review, Brandi said. A commission log of cases involving “voting irregularities” has about 90 entries dating back to 1975. [Connecticut Post, 2/19/17]
The New York Times reported that out of over 4 million ballots in Georgia, “‘officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into ‘suspicious voting or election-related activity.’” [The New York Times, 12/18/16]
Paul Pate, the Republican secretary of state of Iowa, said that his office “was aware of just 10 improperly cast votes out of about 1.6 million cast,” according to The Hill. The report also added, “One of those votes was cast by a felon whose voting rights had been restored in Wisconsin but not Iowa, and another was cast by a noncitizen who turned herself in after she found she wasn’t eligible to vote.” From the March 6 Hill report:
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s (R) office said it was aware of just 10 improperly cast votes out of about 1.6 million cast. The Associated Press found that one of those votes was cast by a felon whose voting rights had been restored in Wisconsin but not Iowa, and another was cast by a noncitizen who turned herself in after she found she wasn’t eligible to vote. [The Hill, 3/6/17]
According to The Daily Independent, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said his office “has no evidence of voter fraud related to the 2016 presidential election,” adding, “All allegations investigated by the Office of Attorney General related to that election have been investigated and all complaints have been closed.” From the January 25 Daily Independent article:
A spokesman for Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said his office received 277 complaints about the Nov. 8 election – most of them procedural questions.
Other complaints focused on election officials, voting machines or electioneering within 100 feet of the polls that is illegal in Kentucky, said Terry Sebastian. There were nine allegations of vote buying.
“The Attorney General’s office has no evidence of voter fraud related to the 2016 presidential election,” Beshear said. “All allegations investigated by the Office of Attorney General related to that election have been investigated and all complaints have been closed.
“While there have been several convictions for vote buying between 2011 and 2016, to our knowledge, they did not involve federal elections,” said Beshear.
Kentucky’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, said Wednesday “there is no basis in fact or in reality for any claim, accusation or belief that there is widespread voter impersonation sufficient to impact the presidential race.” [The Daily Independent, 1/25/17]
According to a report by The Associated Press, Tom Schedler, the Republican secretary of state of Louisiana, said that the state “‘did not have any widespread irregularities or allegations of fraud’ during the 2016 presidential election.” From the January 25 report:
Republican Secretary of State Tom Schedler is defending Louisiana’s elections system, as President Donald Trump announced an investigation into voter fraud in the fall election.
Schedler released a statement Wednesday (Jan. 25) saying: “Louisiana did not have any widespread irregularities or allegations of fraud” during the 2016 presidential election. [The Associated Press, 1/25/17]
According to The New York Times, “Maine’s secretary of state says no voter fraud was detected” in the presidential election. [The New York Times, 12/18/16]
According to an NBC Washington report, “no major fraud or attempted fraud had been detected or reported” in Maryland. The report quotes the deputy administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections who said, “‘In Maryland we have had no coordinated effort to impact the outcome of the election,’” adding that “she knew of two cases of fraud in her 13 years on the board.” From the January 25 NBC Washington report:
An election official in Maryland also said no major fraud or attempted fraud had been detected or reported.
“In Maryland we have had no coordinated effort to impact the outcome of the election,” Maryland State Board of Elections deputy administrator Nikki Charlson said.
Charlson said she knew of two cases of fraud in her 13 years at the board. [NBC Washington, 1/25/17]
The Hill reported that Michigan election officials found “31 individuals who voted twice in November’s elections.” According to the Detroit Free Press, over 4.8 million votes were cast in the 2016 presidential race. [Detroit Free Press, 11/23/16; The Hill, 3/6/17]
CBS Minnesota reported that the secretary of state found “not a single case of voter irregularity” within “six weeks after all Minnesota’s votes were counted.” From the CBS Minnesota report:
Contrary to pre-election predictions, there is no evidence after the election of vote rigging, fraud, double voting, or any widespread conspiracy.
That’s including Minnesota, where citizens voted in record numbers, earning the country’s top spot for voter turnout at 74.4 percent.
“There was was no rigging,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said. “There was no fixing.”
Six weeks after all Minnesota’s votes were counted, Secretary Simon says there is, so far, not a single case of voter irregularity.
“The reports we got from all 87 counties and municipalities across Minnesota is that we had a very fair, very clean, very honest, very open, very transparent election,” Simon said. [CBS Minnesota, 12/20/16]
According to USA Today, Mississippi’s Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said that “reports from the field show no voter fraud irregularities in Mississippi.” The USA Today report quoted Hosemann, who said that people “legally voted in the state of Mississippi.” From the January 25 USA Today report:
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said reports from the field show no voter fraud irregularities in Mississippi so investigators can skip his state.
Hosemann said Trump got about 58 percent of the votes in Mississippi. “Whatever it was – that’s the people that legally voted in the state of Mississippi,” he said. [USA Today, 1/25/17]
News Channel Nebraska reported that two men were “accused of vote fraud” in Nebraska for voting “more than once” in the 2016 election. However, the report noted, “out of 860,000 votes cast in the state last fall the two Class IV felony charges in Lexington are the only cases of possible vote fraud under investigation. Estimates find the two cases representing 0.00023 percent of the total vote.” [News Channel Nebraska, 1/30/17]
The Las Vegas Review Journal reported that the state’s Republican secretary of state said “her office is unaware of any evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud.” From the January 25 report:
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske said Wednesday that her office is unaware of any evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
“There is no evidence of voters illegally casting ballots at the most recent election in Nevada,” Cegavske, a Republican, said in a statement.
“The secretary of state’s office is aware of attempted fraud related to voter registration in Nevada; however, with the help of local election officials, we were able to investigate and make one arrest.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/25/17]
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu told WMUR that “he is unaware of widespread voter fraud in the Granite State,” referring to claims the Trump administration made “that thousands of people from Massachusetts were bused into New Hampshire to vote illegally in the November election.” From the WMUR article:
Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday he is unaware of widespread voter fraud in the Granite State, but he said he wants to work with President Donald Trump’s administration to “learn of any evidence they may have.”
The governor issued a statement to WMUR.com after several days of a media and social media firestorm over Trump’s assertion – and the assertion of Trump’s senior White House policy adviser – that thousands of people from Massachusetts were bused into New Hampshire to vote illegally in the November election.
Neither produced evidence of their claims, and a Federal Election Commission member called on Trump to produce evidence. [WMUR, 2/13/17]
The New York Daily News reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called voter fraud a “non-issue” in the state, writing, “His office had not found any substantiated claim of voter fraud during the 2016 elections.” Additionally, the attorney general’s office “received more than 2,000 calls during the election cycle and only two involved possible fraud. One was investigated and found to be unfounded, while the other could not be investigated because of a lack of information from the caller.” From the February 22 New York Daily News report:
Voter fraud is a “non-issue” in New York State, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reported Wednesday.
Schneiderman, in a letter to Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, said his office had not found any substantiated claim of voter fraud during the 2016 elections.
Schneiderman reported that his office received more than 2,000 calls during the election cycle and only two involved possible fraud. One was investigated and found to be unfounded, while the other could not be investigated because of a lack of information from the caller.
Additionally, the state Board of Elections has not referred any suspected cases of voter fraud to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation or prosecution, he said. [New York Daily News, 2/22/17]
The North Carolina State Board of Elections found in a post-election audit that “about 500 ineligible voters cast ballots in the 2016 general election,” which, according to a report from the Associated Press (AP), was “not enough to change the outcome of any race.” The AP reported that the audit findings — including that “most incidents [of ineligible votes cast were] isolated and uncoordinated” and that the ineligible votes represent “a tiny fraction” of total ballots cast — “contradict Republican claims that voter fraud runs rampant in North Carolina.” From the April 21 report:
North Carolina elections officials found that about 500 ineligible voters cast ballots in the 2016 general election — but not enough to change the outcome of any race, according to an audit released Friday.
The State Board of Elections report said the 508 cases — the vast majority active felons — represented a small fraction of the 4.8 million ballots cast. The report didn’t include any evidence of coordinated fraud, and many of the voters claimed to be confused about their eligibility.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that 82 non-citizens cast ballots in at least one election in Ohio, adding “Non-citizens make up fewer than 1 in every 20,000 registered voters – far from the widespread voter fraud President Donald Trump has claimed.” From the February 27 Enquirer report:
Nearly 400 non-citizens are registered to vote in Ohio – 82 of whom have managed to cast ballots in at least one election, Secretary of State Jon Husted said Monday.
Husted, a Republican and likely candidate for Ohio governor, said his office discovered the 385 registrations from non-citizens during a biennial review of the state’s voter database. In total, 7.9 million people were registered to vote in Ohio as of the November election, so the non-citizens make up fewer than 1 in every 20,000 registered voters – far from the widespread voter fraud President Donald Trump has claimed. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/27/17]
As The New York Times noted, “Tennessee is still investigating one allegation of noncitizen voting.” This one allegation is out of over 2.5 million votes cast in the presidential election. [The New York Times, 12/18/16, 2/10/17]
According to an NBC Washington report, “The D.C. Board of Elections has not received any reports of voter fraud connected to the 2016 presidential election.” Voter outreach specialist Tamara Robinson told NBC Washington that, “as far as malicious intent for voter fraud, we have not experienced that,” in D.C. From the January 25 NBC Washington report:
The D.C. Board of Elections has not received any reports of voter fraud connected to the 2016 presidential election, voter outreach specialist Tamara Robinson said.
“As far as malicious intent for voter fraud, we have not experienced that,” she said.
Like other jurisdictions, D.C. compares data from multiple sources to confirm that voters are eligible.
Any snags that do occur are related to innocent errors, Robinson said. For example, a man was marked as having voted twice after an election official erroneously recorded him and his son, who had the same name, as one person. [NBC Washington, 1/25/17]
“President Trump is trying to create a distraction from actual threats to our democracy, such as ongoing voter suppression and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” said Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
During his campaign and now as president, Trump has resurrected a variety of voter myths to cast doubt on election integrity, in-sync with conservative media figures hyping the fears of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.
For many years now, Republicans have misled voters and successfully suppressed the voting rights of millions through strict voter-ID laws, which have been proven to do much more harm than good. And according to a new study, voter-ID laws decreased turnout among African-American and Democratic voters, with Wisconsin alone suppressing around 200,000 votes in 2016, a state Trump won by only 22,748 votes.
On Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
Trump just announced a commission to examine voter fraud. The only problem with that is there is virtually no voter fraud in this country.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 11, 2017
The purpose of this investigation is to propagate a myth and encourage Republican governors and legislators to increase voter suppression. https://t.co/IA3r11eJk6
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 11, 2017
Many state election officials are also worried the commission will divert attention from other serious concerns, such as aging equipment and the threat of hacking. Last year, CNN reported that federal investigators believed Russians hackers were behind cyberattacks on a contractor for Florida’s election system that may have exposed the personal data of Florida voters, according to U.S. officials briefed on the probe. U.S. intelligence officials have said they fully expect that Russians will attempt to hack future U.S. elections, after their success in influencing last year’s vote.