President Donald Trump has a colorful imagination when it comes to the fictitious specter of “voter fraud.”
Although actual cases of people impersonating a registered voter in order to artificially alter vote totals are infinitesimally rare, Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting, which states have made more available this election cycle due to COVID-19, is a magnet for “fraud.”
But to the extent that “voter fraud” is a problem this year, Trump might want to take a closer look at his own supporters.
Robert R. Lynn, a registered Republican and Trump supporter in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly requesting an absentee ballot for his mother, who died in 2015.
Lynn, 67, is a resident of Luzerne County, a largely white, working-class, political bellwether that Barack Obama won twice, but which swung hard for Trump in 2016. Lynn is being charged with voter fraud and forgery for faking his deceased mother’s signature on the absentee ballot request form.
County prosecutors have told local news outlets that it is the first case of alleged voter fraud in the county in three decades. County election authorities flagged the ballot request as suspicious in September, triggering the investigation that led to Lynn’s arrest. Lynn allegedly first denied the allegations to detectives, before admitting to the deed.
Lynn is due in court for a hearing on Nov. 5 ― two days after the election. The Republican, who posted $10,000 in bail, could face up to five years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Lynn’s Facebook posts show that he is a fan of Trump’s and a bitter critic of Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
In one January message, Lynn shared a homemade image of Trump’s campaign logo with the words, “Finally someone with balls.”
In July, Lynn shared a conservative meme about someone who agreed to their neighbor’s request to take down their Trump flag only to replace the flag with dozens of Trump yard signs instead.
And in a since-deleted post from September, Lynn called Biden’s town hall event in Moosic, Pennsylvania, “pathetic.”
Lynn even amplified conservative concerns about the chaos that Pennsylvania’s expanded mail-in voting options could cause, though he does not appear to have reiterated Trump’s claims of widespread fraud. Lynn shared a Wall Street Journal editorial from September warning that the crush of mail-in ballots could postpone the country’s election results and set up a costly, partisan court battle. “No surprise here, already happened in the PA primaries, this year, so strap on your hanging chads, folks!!” Lynn wrote in his post sharing the editorial.
Trump’s crusade against the phantom voter fraud phenomenon has on at least one occasion led him to encourage his supporters to test the system’s safeguards by engaging in the practice themselves. At a rally in North Carolina in September, he told supporters to mail in their ballots and then vote in person, “and if the system is as good as they say it is then obviously they won’t be able to vote” in person.
The Voter Project, a group working to expose Republican voter suppression efforts and dispel myths about voter fraud, blamed Trump for effectively encouraging voter fraud among his own supporters.
“Donald Trump has tried to spread chaos and disinformation about voter fraud for years and he’s never come up with any evidence,” Voter Project spokesperson Mike Mikus said in a statement. “A byproduct of his misinformation is that nearly every instance of voter fraud in recent years has been Trump’s own supporters because they believe his incessant lying.”