Monday, May 4, 2020

Trumping Voter Fraud Claims

President Donald Trump, and his supporters, continue to insist that U.S. elections are tainted by fraud.  To protect against such fraud, they want to block mail-in ballots for the 2020 presidential election.

Trump has repeatedly said, “Mailed ballots are corrupt.” That’s the chorus echoed by his followers as well as the usual claims that “millions” of illegal immigrants voted in 2016 and that voter fraud is rampant.

It’s all a flat lie.

Oregon, the state that pioneered mail-in ballots, has found a dozen possible cases of fraud in the more than 100 million ballots mailed out since 2000.

Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, has studied voter fraud extensively and written about it.  He noted in a 2015 magazine article on voter fraud that “it would be literally insane to try to steal an election in the way Donald Trump is alleging.”

In his 2012 book in U.S. elections, titled The Voting Wars, Hasen wrote that he “could not find a single instance anywhere in the U.S. from the 1980s onward where massive impersonation fraud was used to try to steal an election.”

The number of voters using mail-in ballots already runs into the millions.  According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, in the presidential elections in 2012 and 2016, about 25 percent of all Americans voted by mail-in ballot.  In 2018, the percentage of mail-in voters reached almost 26 percent.  For residents in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, that’s the primary method of voting. 

Overall, since 200, the commission said more than 250 million votes have been cast using this method. 

As for fraud, extremely rare.  In the 2016 presidential election, four cases have been identified. 

In Iowa, one woman voted twice – for Trump.  Teri Lynn Rote said she tried because “the polls are rigged.”  Paul Cook was arrested in Texas for voting twice.  He said he worked for the Trump campaign and was testing the security system.  It apparently worked.

In Illinois, Republican election judge Audrey Cook voted for her late husband.  They got absentee ballots, but he died before he could vote.  So, she voted for him.  That ballot was not counted.

Finally, in Florida, Gladys Coego was hired to open absentee ballots in Miami-Dade County. She filled in a ballot for a mayoral candidate and was caught. 

That’s it.

Hansen wrote, “It is still more likely for an American to be struck by lightning than to commit mail voting fraud.”

Trump’s “allegations are false. Fraud almost never takes place through in-person voting and certainly not enough to swing an election)” said Heather Gerken, a professor of law at Yale Law School and an election law expert.  “There have been astonishingly few examples, and with good reason. It is far, far, far easier to steal an election by bribing an election official ...”

PolitiFact, a debunking website, added, there was no evidence in 2016, and there has been no evidence since, of "large scale voter fraud.”

Using voting machines are equally safe.  Statistician and voting systems analyst Philip Stark at the University of California Berkeley said optical scanners are good but not perfect. "I’ve seen error rates on the order of one-quarter of a percent," Stark said.

That’s not enough to affect a presidential election.

So why the clams of fraud with the 2020 election only a few months away?  Trump and his cohorts know fully well his odds of re-election depend on voter turnout.  He only won with a minority of the vote in 2016 because about 105 million voters stayed away from the polls.

Wisconsin Vvoters
Considering his low status in current opinion polls, Trump is doing everything he can to try to get even more  Americans to stay home.  The process was tested in Wisconsin where voters amid a pandemic were obligated to stand in line at the polls when the conservative high court there blocked mail-in ballots. 

Wisconsin voters risked illness to turn out in droves.  The turnout was estimated at 34 percent, which was less than 2016, but greater than 2012.  "All of those factors seemed to conspire to really reduce voter turnout," said Barry Burden, the director of the University of Wisconsin's Elections Research Center. "But, in the end, the voters responded."

In doing so, they unseated a conservative member of that court.

Absurd and continuous lies notwithstanding, Trump and his followers are afraid they will see the same kind of results nationwide in November.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history with an occasional foray into American culture.  He holds an ABD in American Studies from Case Western Reserve University.   He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at He is the author of the recently published novels Revelation! (Southern Owl Press) and The Great Seer Nostradamus Tells All (Bold Venture Press) as well as a variety of nonfiction books, including The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information and Comparative Religion for Dummies.  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

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