Donald Trump calls voter fraud "very very common," butchers citations

Donald Trump's sources didn't say what he thought they said

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 18, 2016 12:17PM (EDT)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis.  (AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP)

Donald Trump may insist that he has proof of rampant voter fraud in America, but the sources he’s citing don’t actually making that argument.

Trump claimed that voter fraud is “very, very common” at a Monday night rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths and believe me there’s a lot going on,” Trump told his supporters. “Do you ever hear these people? They say ‘there’s nothing going on.’ People that have died 10 years ago are still voting, illegal immigrants are voting — I mean, where are the street smarts of some of these politicians?”

This sentiment was echoed by Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the candidate would only accept defeat in the election “if there’s absent overwhelming evidence of any kind of fraud or irregularities.”

Neither of the two sources cited by the campaign — one a Pew report, the other a 2014 article in The Washington Post — actually argued that voter fraud was common, much less that Trump has sound reasons to worry about it.

The Pew report focused on technical inefficiencies in our voting system rather than actual fraud. It found that 24 million voter registrations in the United States are either invalid or have significant inaccuracies, 2.75 million people are registered in more than one state, 12 million records have the wrong address, and almost 2 million deceased individuals are still on the rolls. These problems are attributed to outdated registration systems rather than chicanery, however, and their proposed solutions are practical rather than alarmist, including cross-referencing registration lists, improving techniques for spotting out-of-date records, and allowing voters to register online.

The Washington Post article, though more directly relevant to the issue of voter fraud than the Pew report, still didn’t make the argument that Trump claimed. Published nearly two years ago, it extrapolated that roughly 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent did so in 2010. “Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections,” the article said. Because presidential elections occur on a much larger scale than local races, though, it’s extremely unlikely that non-citizen voting could have an impact on their outcomes.

Recent polls find Trump trailing Clinton by significant margins, making this election nowhere near close enough to apply to the conclusions reached by The Washington Post.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Elections 2016 Hillary Clinton Video Voter Fraud