Stolen Elections, Voting Dogs And Other Fantastic Fables From The GOP Voter Fraud Mythology

tags: GOP, Voter Fraud

Rick Perlstein is a historian and journalist who lives in Chicago. His most recent book is “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.”  Livia Gershon is a freelance journalist based in New Hampshire. She has written for the Guardian, the Boston Globe, HuffPost, and some other places.

President Trump started talking about voter fraud after the 2016 election in the service of his ego — the most powerful force in American politics today. He argued incessantly that he had won not just the Electoral College but also the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He called for a “major investigation” into voting by “those who are illegal,” as well people registered in two states and dead people. His fellow Republicans weren’t buying. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noted that fraud is usually handled at the state level. Anyway, he said, “there’s no evidence that it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election.” So in May, Trump created his own voter fraud commission.

Republican Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who had pushed for strict voter ID laws around the country, served as the vice chair. Vice President Mike Pence was the chair. But few state election officials wanted anything to do with it. When the commission reached out to states for sensitive voter information, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, memorably replied that “they can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.” Even Kobach’s own Kansas office refused to hand over the information the commission requested, which included partial social security numbers.

The unenthusiastic response likely reflected officials’ understanding that the fraud commission wouldn’t turn up much. Numerous studies have found that voter fraud is far from a major issue in the U.S., and in-person fraud of the sort Trump and Kobach like to talk about — things like non-citizens showing up to vote or people returning to vote multiple times under different names — is vanishingly rare. A 2007 study by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice memorably found that an individual American is more likely to get struck by lightning than to commit in-person voter fraud. 

And yet, as of last summer, 68 percent of Republicans thought millions of illegal immigrants had voted in 2016, and almost three quarters said voter fraud happens “somewhat” or “very often.” The same survey found that nearly half of Republicans believed Trump had won the popular vote.

Trump may have brought the Republican Party into a new era, but such attitudes long predate Trump. For decades, complaints about “voter fraud” have been a core component of Republican right-wing folklore — and one of their most useful election-year tools, particularly in places where winning the white vote isn’t enough to win elections. ...

Read entire article at TPM

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