The truth about election fraud: It’s rare – The Washington Post

    It is true that election results can be manipulated. Politicians, for instance, might draw election district boundaries to make it all but certain that one political party will win. Trump allies sought to undermine the 2020 results with schemes involving fake electors, an effort to block Congress from affirming the outcome.

    Long before Trump sought to undercut the legitimacy of the 2020 election, Republican officials at both the state and federal levels often made dubious claims of election fraud to justify new and potentially burdensome rules such as Voter ID laws. When Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 but lost the popular vote by more than 3 million votes, he embraced false claims that the margin was the result of fraudulent votes cast by undocumented immigrants. Trump even assembled a voting integrity commission to validate such claims — but it was disbanded after it uncovered no evidence of fraudulent votes being cast.

    The state with the most cases is Arizona, with 198 potentially fraudulent votes — such as a woman suspected of sending in a ballot for her dead mother — but Biden still won the state by more than 10,000 votes.

    In the 1960 race between Republican Richard M. Nixon and Democrat John F. Kennedy, 10 states were decided by fewer than 10,000 votes. Republicans charged that Kennedy won Illinois because of voter fraud committed by the Democratic Party in the state. But academic research later found election irregularities would not have changed enough votes to alter the outcome.

    Von Spakovsky says the number would be much higher except that local prosecutors are not always interested in pursuing election-fraud cases. He cited a report from the conservative Public Interest Legal Foundation that found more than 150 referrals of potential criminal violations of election law in 2020 had been ignored in Florida.

    Still, these numbers — the most comprehensive account of U.S. election-fraud cases in the past four decades — are just a fraction of the 2 billion votes cast in federal elections in that same time-period, according to a calculation for The Fact Checker by the Brennan Center for Justice. In a critical review of the Heritage numbers, the center said the database “confirms that widespread voter fraud does not exist.”

    During the 2020 election, many states expanded options for voters, such as vote by mail, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump repeatedly said that these changes would lead to fraud — and some states have since added new restrictions on mail voting.

    In the last half-century, there are only scattered examples of where election fraud appeared to have made a difference in the outcome. They often take place in races that attract relatively few voters and thus the impact of fraud could be greater.

    In a 2003 race for the Democratic nomination for mayor of East Chicago, Indiana, for instance, one candidate eked out a 278-vote victory, out of more than 8,000 votes cast, mostly on the strength of absentee ballots. But a judge determined the evidence showed “pervasive fraud, illegal conduct, and violations of elections law” in the gathering of those ballots. The state Supreme Court ordered a new election.

    The most prominent case of a major race likely being decided by election fraud took place 75 years ago. In 1948, Lyndon B. Johnson, then a member of Congress, won a Democratic runoff Senate primary against former governor Coke Stevenson by just 87 votes. Historian Robert A. Caro documented in 1990 that Johnson gained hundreds of votes through fraud and malfeasance — a victory that eventually took Johnson to the presidency.

    Since losing the election, Trump has held rallies across the country where he devotes a long section of his speech to repeating debunked claims about the election. Trump’s technique has been to overwhelm his listeners with details — usually irrelevant details — to leave an impression of an election system that is highly suspicious and fraudulent.

    Beyond ground-level claims about dead voters and absentee ballot fraud, Trump and his allies have also sought to bolster their case by citing statistical anomalies that they say show the election was stolen. For instance, they have pointed to suspiciously high turnout in Democratic strongholds, and the failure of Biden to win “bellwether counties” — counties that supposedly vote in alignment with the final result.

    “The common logic behind these claims is that, if the election were fairly conducted, some feature of the observed 2020 election result would be unlikely or impossible. In each case, we find that the purportedly anomalous fact is either not a fact or not anomalous,” wrote Justin Grimmer of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Andrew C. Eggers of the University of Chicago, and Haritz Garro of Stanford.

    As for claims of high turnout in counties where Republicans made fraud accusations, it turns out the differences were small or insignificant. “There is no evidence that turnout was unusually high in the suspicious counties, let alone that turnout was inflated in these counties by fraud,” they wrote.

    Another frequent claim was that Biden outperformed expectations in counties that used Dominion voting machines, suggesting votes had been switched as Trump’s legal team had claimed. Again, that proved to be false: “Using the most rigorous specifications we find no evidence that Biden outperformed expectations in counties where Dominion machines were used.”

    This content was originally published here.

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