“When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles,” Trump said. “Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”
Trump offered no evidence for his claims, and several studies and investigations have shown voter fraud is not a widespread problem. (He also suggested people need to have voter ID to buy cereal at the store, which isn’t true.)
The president has lied about voter fraud before. He once said that between 3 and 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, but there’s no evidence that’s true. He convened a commission to investigate voter fraud but disbanded it after the panel only met twice.
Any kind of voter fraud is rare, but the specific kind of fraud Trump seemed to be citing in his recent interview ― voter impersonation at the polls ― is particularly unusual. Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a former top Justice Department official, found there were just 31 credible allegations of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2014. There were over a billion votes cast during that same period. The Justice Department also studied voter fraud from 2002 to 2007 and didn’t find much.
When someone casts an illegal vote, it is usually because of confusion or error. Noncitizens may accidentally check a box indicating they’re citizens and vote when no election official stops them. People with felony convictions may also be confused about whether they can vote.
Trump’s comments come amid a slew of attacks on election officials in Florida who are counting votes to determine the outcome of races in the state’s U.S. Senate, gubernatorial and agriculture commissioner race. Election experts say there’s nothing unusual about what Florida officials are doing.
Shortly after the 2016 election, Trump alleged he only lost the state of New Hampshire because people were bused in to vote illegally. New Hampshire officials investigated the claim and found it wasn’t true.
North Carolina officials also looked for voter fraud after the 2016 election. State officials found 24 cases of double voting and two cases of voter impersonation that were referred to prosecutors. Around 4.8 million people voted in North Carolina in 2016.
The scant evidence of fraud hasn’t stopped lawmakers in either state from passing new voting restrictions. In New Hampshire, Republicans passed a law requiring new voters to take additional steps to prove they were “domiciled” at their address (a judge struck it down earlier this year). In North Carolina, Republicans put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this year to require photo voter ID at the polls. The measure passed last week.
The White House has previously pointed to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) as someone who can provide evidence of widespread voter fraud. Kobach supported Trump’s claim that millions may have voted illegally in 2016 and claimed up to 18,000 noncitizens had attempted to register to vote in Kansas. But Kobach failed to successfully defend that claim in federal court earlier this year. A federal judge found that only 39 noncitizens had gotten on the rolls in the state since 1999.
Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official who served on Trump’s voter fraud commission, testified that he could not name a single federal election where the outcome was swayed by noncitizens voting.