Recent claims from officials have raised questions about our nation’s election system

by Caroline Chidester, ’17

The concept of voter fraud has been a political concern in the United States for decades. Recently, the Trump administration and President Trump himself have been speaking out against the topic. On Trump’s personal Twitter account (@realDonaldTrump), he made the claim that “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, [he] won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Not only is this seen on social media, but after the Twitter claim was made by Trump, his  White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller agreed with him in an interview with ABC’s This Week.

“This issue of busing voters in New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics,” Miller said. “It’s very real. It’s very serious.”

When pressed for evidence of voter fraud, Miller refused to comment.

“This morning on this show is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence. But I can tell you this, voter fraud is a serious problem in this country,” Miller said.

These claims have sparked a nationwide debate over the topic, and although the administration has yet to provide evidence after it was requested by multiple sources, including the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the topic has raised concern about the United States voting system.

In an interview with NPR, Ellen Weintraub, the commissioner of the FEC, spoke against recent claims of voter fraud.

“Nobody’s come forward with any evidence so far. And people have looked into it. There have been massive numbers of studies about voter fraud in the last number of years,” Weintraub said. “The Southern Poverty Law Center has looked into it. Courts have looked into it. The National Association of Secretaries of States have looked into it. And nobody can find any evidence of this.”

Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law released an academic paper from 2006 titled “The Truth About Voter Fraud” in which past claims of voter fraud are analyzed.

According to the paper, “there are surprisingly few sources of information specifically analyzing the allegations of alleged voter fraud to determine the extent to which they show reliable evidence of fraud.”

After analyzing past studies, Brennan Center for Justice reported that “in two studies, both focusing more heavily on the political and legal context of voter fraud allegations, Professor Lorraine Minnite has reviewed several incidents. Professor Spencer Overton, a former commissioner on the 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform, has also reviewed several incidents of alleged fraud in his book Stealing Democracy. After careful analysis, both authors find the claims largely overblown.”

A source cited in the past by the Trump administration is Gregg Phillips, the founder of VoteStand, an election fraud reporting app. Phillips has claimed that over three million individual votes were fraudulent. This claim was picked up and spread by sources such as InfoWars, TheNewAmerican and Trump’s own Twitter.

“Look forward to seeing final results of VoteStand. Gregg Phillips and crew say at least three million votes were illegal. We must do better!” Trump said in a January tweet.

When asked to prove these claims by CNN’s Chris Cuomo in late January, Phillips refused to provide details until he looks into the matter further.

“We’re going to release all of this to the public. We are going to release our methodology and release the broad data and our conclusions and we’re going to release everything to the public as soon as we get done with the checks,” Phillips said. “[We] believe it will probably take another few months to get this done.”

Many have spoken out against these claims, including Carl Bernstein, an American investigative journalist and author.

“There is no known basis of fact,” Bernstein said. “It is in the realm of lying absent any proof by this one person. It’s extraordinary [that] the country can get taken on a ride.”

This is not the first or last time that voter fraud has been in the headlines. During the 2012 election, voter fraud claims briefly dominated the media. An often claim being that in 59 voting districts in Philadelphia, Obama received 100 percent of the votes with no votes recorded for Romney.

This rumor was started by a viral email thread and was later proved to be false, however it started a discussion on restrictions and laws to prevent it from actually happening in the future that is still being talked about today.