In two tweets today, President Trump announced that he is going forward on investigating alleged instances of voter fraud in the last election. He wrote that he will ask for a “major investigation into voter fraud, including those registered to vote in two states,” as well as those who are “illegal” or dead. He said that the result of the probe would strengthen voting procedures.
I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Democrats have been quick to respond. For example, Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, tweeted in response that “The question of voter fraud has been asked and answered exhaustively. There is almost zero. This is about Trump’s insecurity/voter suppression.” Some are claiming that Trump’s top aide, Steve Bannon, is himself registered to vote in two states. The Democratic National Committee dismissed Trump's concerns over voter fraud and suggested instead that his supposed ties to Russia should be investigated.
The question of voter fraud has been asked & answered--exhaustively. There is almost 0. This is about Trump's insecurity/voter suppression.— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) January 25, 2017
But there are also critics on the right. Charles C.W. Cooke, who edits National Review Online tweeted today “Trump is absolutely full of it on voter fraud. But I wish more people would acknowledge that it happens on a limited, focused basis.”
Trump is absolutely full of it on voter fraud. But I wish more people would acknowledge that it happens on a limited, focused basis. (1)— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 25, 2017
If they did—and if they refrained from calling anyone who points that out “racist”—there’d be less of a backlash. See also: immigration. (2)— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 25, 2017
Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions has acknowledged Trump’s concerns over voter fraud. However, he has stopped short of endorsing the assertion that millions of people cast votes fraudlently in the recent general election.
In response to questions from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) at his confirmation hearing, Sessions said, “I don’t know what the president-elect meant or was thinking when he made that comment or what facts he may have had to justify his statement.” As for ballot security, Sessions said “I would just say that every election needs to be managed closely and we need to ensure that there is integrity in it. And I do believe we regularly have fraudulent activities occur during election cycles.”
Sessions based his concerns over accountability in the elections process on a study conducted under the auspices of The American University’s Center for Democracy and Election Management. It is entitled “Building Confidence in American Elections: Report of the Commission on Election Reform.” It was published in 2005. The co-chairmen of the Commission were Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker III.
Page 45 of the report reads:
“While election fraud is difficult to measure, it occurs. The U.S. Department of Justice has launched more than 180 investigations into election fraud since October 2002. These investigations have resulted in charges for multiple voting, providing false information on their felon status, and other offenses against 89 individuals and in convictions of 52 individuals. The convictions related to a variety of election fraud offenses, from vote buying to submitting false voter registration information and voting-related offenses by non-citizens." The study recommended that in July of every even-numbered year, DOJ should issue a public report of its investigations of election fraud, and that its Office of Public Integrity should increase its staff to investigate and prosecute election-related fraud."