President-elect Donald Trump made an outrageous and, experts agree, wholly false claim on Twitter yesterday evening that “millions of votes were cast illegally, ironically casting doubt upon the legitimacy of the election he supposedly won.
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
Election law experts were quick to reject Trump’s claim. “There’s no reason to believe this is true,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of election law at University of California, Irvine. “The level of fraud in US elections is quite low.” In fact, Hasen noted, the number of non-citizens who vote is “quite small–like we’re talking claims in the dozens, we’re not talking voting in the millions, or thousands, or even the hundreds.”
Another expert, David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research and a former senior trial attorney in the Voting Section of the Dept. of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, also agreed widespread election fraud is unlikely. “We know historically that this almost never happens,” he said. “You’re more likely to get eaten by a shark that simultaneously gets hit by lightning than to find a non-citizen voting.”
According to an advisor who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, Trump believes “that the Democratic establishment will try to steal” his victory and wants to hold the party accountable. Another source close to the president-elect said that Trump was angered by Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s calls for a recount in the state of Wisconsin and lashed out.
Stein launched the effort to ensure election integrity based on a report from New York magazine that said a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers are urging Hillary Clinton’s campaign to call for a recount of vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The scientists said that they’d found persuasive evidence that results in those three states may have been manipulated or hacked and presented their findings to top Clinton aides in a conference all on November 17. The Clinton campaign has since announced it will participate in the recount efforts.
The timing of Trump’s tweet is also suspect––it shifted attention away from an investigative report published in the New York Times the same day exposing the intricacies of his many conflicts of interest around the globe.
The claims of voter fraud appear to have originated from conspiracy website Infowars.com, whose founder, radio host Alex Jones, has received criticism for promoting unsubstantiated, often bizarre conspiracy theories including that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting in Newton, Connecticut, which resulted in the death of 20 children, was a hoax. (Trump spoke to Jones personally days after his election win to thank him for his support.)
Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations.
Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million.
Consulting legal team.
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 11, 2016
We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens.
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 13, 2016
Phillips has declined to provide any evidence to support his claim but tweeted yesterday evening that a “comprehensive research study” is in the works.
“He said he has chosen not to release more information because he is still working on analyzing the data and verifying its accuracy, PundiFact reported. “Phillips would also not say what the data is or where it came from,
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