Rigged Elections Aren’t The Problem As Much As Trump’s Candidacy Is

rigged elections

Kevin Williamson notes how Donald Trump is losing the swing states of New Hampshire (+11 Clinton), Virginia (+11 Clinton), Michigan (+8 Clinton), Colorado (+7 Clinton), North Carolina (+6 Clinton), Pennsylvania (+6 Clinton), along with the voters of conservative Georgia (+4 Clinton) and practically every traditionally Democratic state (Trump boasted that he’d put states such as New Jersey, Connecticut and New York into play but is, in fact, losing them by 12, 15 and 20 points, respectively). Florida is in the toss-up column, which is to be expected, but then so is Texas, which is catastrophic. Utah’s Evan McMullin is pouring orange juice in Trump’s cornflakes. Arizona and Georgia, traditional GOP strongholds, are also up for grabs. Trump is that bad. This has nothing to do with rigged elections.

Rigged Elections Talk Is Just Bad Politics

The thing about voter fraud isn’t that it doesn’t exist. It does exist, and all responsible observers both know and say that. The question is whether the proposed policy solution (invariably tighter ID requirements at the polls) is tailored to the problem that actually exists, and at the same time not sufficiently severe that it creates more trouble than it solves.”

– Professor Justin Leavitt of Loyola University Law School

Ironically, the voter suppression laws enacted by many legislatures of what should be Trump-friendly states will actually snare Trump voters who have for example either not updated their information, gone to the wrong polls or been taken off the voter lists for not voting in the last eight years. Trump has invested little in a sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation, so his “self-fulfilling rigged elections prophecy” will actually bring down his numbers as some of his supporters will decide not to take the time to vote if they feel their vote is wasted. Trump has also apparently shown that he’s already thought about his post-election plans with his son-in-law pitching a Trump News Network. That doesn’t exactly convey a message that he’s fighting to make America great again, at least not as President.

Voter Fraud: Your Favorite Excuse’s Favorite Excuse

Jim Geraghty writes how a CBS Denver affiliate found, in two separate reports, four voters recorded as casting ballots after they died, and “dozens” of individuals still listed on the voter rolls after they died. Keep in mind, Obama won Colorado by 137,858 votes in 2012. Cory Gardner’s margin of victory in the state’s 2014 Senate race was 39,688 votes. No one has found tens of thousands of dead voters casting ballots.

The CBS affiliate in Los Angeles found 265 registered voters whose identifications matched those of death records from the Social Security Administration. They found 32 dead voters who cast ballots in eight elections each. Could that swing a close local election? Perhaps. But not California’s presidential and Senate elections in 2012 — where each won by more than 2 million votes.

Voting In Two Places

There are cases where people have registered and voted in two different jurisdictions. Back in 2004, the New York Daily News found 46,000 New Yorkers were registered to vote in New York and Florida, and 400–1,000 registered voters voted twice in at least one election. Slate gathered other investigations back in 2004 as well: “The Orlando Sentinel found that 68,000 Florida voters are also registered in Georgia or North Carolina (the only two states it checked), 1,650 of whom voted twice in 2000 or 2002. The Kansas City Star discovered 300 “potential” cases of individual voter fraud, including Kansans voting in Missouri and St. Louisans voting in both the city and the surrounding suburbs.”

There are enough illegal votes there to swing an election as close as Florida’s and New Mexico’s in 2000. But because 99.9 percent of elections are nowhere near that close, voter fraud on such a small scale is exceedingly unlikely to swing a statewide result. It is easier to imagine a scenario where illegally-cast votes alter the outcome of a U.S. House race or state legislative race, because those elections necessarily involve many fewer votes cast, but even then the likelihood is slim.

Illegal Immigrants

Well, what about illegal immigrants casting ballots? A study released in October 2014 offered the shocking assertion that roughly 700,000 illegal immigrants voted in the 2008 election, and probably provided Barack Obama his narrow margin of victory in North Carolina. But the researchers didn’t draw that conclusion by looking at ballots or voting records. They used a 50,000+ person national survey administered by YouGov/Polimetrix. In that survey, 339 people from the 2008 sample and 489 from the 2010 sample said they were not U.S. citizens. Of those individuals, 21 said they had voted in 2008 and eight said they had voted in 2010. The researchers then took that voting rate and applied it to the entire U.S. non-citizen population. But even if you accept the accuracy of such extrapolation, all of the data on which it was based was self-reported, and some of it was contradictory: Some respondents reported being non-citizens in 2012 and citizens in 2010. Most of the illegal immigrants told interviewers they already had photo identification that permitted them to vote. So the only thing we can say for certain is that there are a number of self-identified non-citizens who are willing to tell a survey collector that they voted in a U.S. election.

Geraghty concludes with what we all should know. Will fraudulent votes be cast in the 2016 election? Almost certainly, and every case should be investigated and prosecuted. Will those fraudulent votes occur in large enough numbers to swing a state? Almost certainly not. Rigged elections are not a problem.

But that won’t stop Trump from claiming otherwise in the vaguest, most unverifiable terms. If he has actual evidence of rigged elections, he should produce it. If he doesn’t, chalk it up to preemptive surrender in November. Voter fraud is a poor excuse offered by candidates who can’t face their own failures.

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