Stephen Miller’s bushels of Pinocchios for false voter-fraud claims

Glenn Kessler, writing in The Washington Post:

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller appeared on ABC’s “The Week” on Sunday, spouting a bunch of false talking points on alleged voter fraud. (He also repeated similar claims on other Sunday talk shows.) To his credit, host George Stephanopoulus repeatedly challenged Miller, noting that he had provided no evidence to support his claims. But Miller charged ahead, using the word “fact” three times in a vain effort to bolster his position.

Here’s a guide through the back and forth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move on, though, to the question of voter fraud as well. President Trump again this week suggested in a meeting with senators that thousands of illegal voters were bused from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and that’s what caused his defeat in the state of New Hampshire, also the defeat of Senator Kelly Ayotte.

That has provoked a response from a member of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub, who says, “I call upon the president to immediately share New Hampshire voter fraud evidence so that his allegations may be investigated promptly.”

Do you have that evidence?

Stephanopoulus is referring to a Feb. 10 Politico report of a closed-door meeting Trump held with senators to discuss the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court: “The president claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the ‘thousands’ of people who were ‘brought in on buses’ from neighboring Massachusetts to ‘illegally’ vote in New Hampshire. According to one participant who described the meeting, ‘an uncomfortable silence’ momentarily overtook the room.”

Ayotte lost her Senate race by about 1,000 votes but did not challenge the results; Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in New Hampshire by nearly 3,000 votes.

MILLER: I have actually, having worked before on a campaign in New Hampshire, I can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics. It’s very real. It’s very serious. This morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence.

This is false. PolitiFact New Hampshire in November gave the state’s governor, Chris Sununu, a “Pants on Fire” for claiming that voters were bused in — and Sununu quickly retreated from his comment. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said voter fraud was not widespread problem, largely because the law requires voters to show a valid identification at the polls. If an ID is lacking, the voter’s photo is taken, they have to sign an affidavit affirming their identify and then state officials follow up.

Sununu later said he did not mean to imply that “I see buses coming over,” saying it was more of a figure of speech. “Sununu said he was referring to an incident over Portsmouth state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark allowing Democratic staffers to live at her house in the 2008 and 2012 elections,” PolitiFact reported. “Those staffers voted in New Hampshire elections using Fuller Clark’s address, which is not illegal, as they were living in the state at least 3 months before the election, the Attorney General later ruled.”

Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire attorney general and prominent Republican in the state, tweeted this after Miller’s comments:

Much more here.

Election officials find virtually no voter fraud

Via The New York Times:

After all the allegations of rampant voter fraud and claims that millions had voted illegally, the people who supervised the general election last month in states around the nation have been adding up how many credible reports of fraud they actually received. The overwhelming consensus: next to none.

In an election in which more than 137.7 million Americans cast ballots, election and law enforcement officials in 26 states and the District of Columbia — Democratic-leaning, Republican-leaning and in-between — said that so far they knew of no credible allegations of fraudulent voting. Officials in another eight states said they knew of only one allegation.

A few states reported somewhat larger numbers of fraud claims that were under review. Tennessee counted 40 credible allegations out of some 4.3 million primary and general election votes. In Georgia, where more than 4.1 million ballots were cast, officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into “suspicious voting or election-related activity.”

But inquiries to all 50 states (every one but Kansas responded) found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud. And while additional allegations could surface as states wind up postelection reviews, their conclusions are unlikely to change significantly.

 The findings unambiguously debunk repeated statements by President-elect Donald J. Trump that millions of illegal voters backed his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. They also refute warnings by Republican governors in Maine and North Carolina that election results could not be trusted.

And they underscore what researchers and scholars have said for years: Fraud by voters casting ballots illegally is a minuscule problem, but a potent political weapon.

“The old notion that somehow there are all these impostors out there, people not eligible to vote that are voting — it’s a lie,” said Thomas E. Mann, a resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “But it’s what’s being used in the states now to impose increased qualifications and restrictions on voting.”

In a year that unfolded amid wild fraud claims, the reports from election officials were strikingly humdrum.

“Nothing at all, really,” said Jim Tenuto, the assistant executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

“We only had one,” said Laura Strimple, Nebraska’s assistant secretary of state. “It hasn’t been confirmed.”

“We haven’t received any complaints to our office or any word of suspicious activity, and we would definitely hear it,” said Matt Roberts, the spokesman for Arizona’s secretary of state.

Some state officials qualified their estimates, saying they had not yet reviewed all questionable ballots, or that voter fraud was a local matter that was usually — but not always — reported to them. Ohio officials declined to offer totals, saying they were still assessing complaints; Pennsylvania and Mississippi officials said they did not track fraud cases.

Many Republicans insist significant problems persist, and that much fraud goes undetected. The conservative Heritage Foundation has published online what it calls an incomplete list of voter fraud and other election-law violations dating to 1982, roughly 450 cases involving both voters and public officials. Properly written, laws requiring voters to display IDs “could increase the fairness of the election process for everyone, regardless of party,” Hans von Spakovsky, the manager of the foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative, said.

Voting-rights advocates note that the current system caught those violations — and that the numbers, less than one per state per year — constitute a tiny sliver of the millions of votes cast in any election cycle.

No one doubts that election fraud has occurred and needs to be monitored. Election outcomes have been changed by officials who altered vote tallies, and in theory hackers could pick winners by playing havoc with voter rolls, voting machines or electronic reporting networks. But voter fraud, in which someone deliberately casts an invalid ballot or a ballot under someone else’s name, is exceedingly rare.

Its prevalence is at the heart of the debate on restrictions like voter ID. Critics say that cracking down on abuses that barely exist can cost hundreds of thousands of people or more — often the poor and minorities — their ability to vote.

For example, a federal court in 2014 found that in Wisconsin an estimated 300,000 voters who had already registered did not have any of the required IDs.

Federal courts have altered or nullified the strictest voter-ID laws, saying they suppress turnout among minorities, who are most likely to lack a required ID.

This year has set new benchmarks for accusations about tainted elections.

In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, this month certified state elections, in which Mrs. Clinton won, but refused to call the vote count accurate. (Maine’s secretary of state says no voter fraud was detected.)

In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory, also a Republican, charged that Democratic-driven fraud in more than half the state’s 100 counties contributed to his re-election defeat by the state attorney general, Roy Cooper.

Mr. McCrory conceded on Dec. 6. But for three weeks before that, he and others repeatedly accused Democrats of concocting illegal absentee ballots and relying on votes by criminals, the dead and two-time voters.

The accusations proved largely spurious. Of more than 4.7 million ballots cast, election officials uncovered 25 apparently invalid votes by felons; whether they knew they were ineligible to vote is unclear. State and county election boards, all led by Republican majorities, threw out most of the remaining challenges. So-called dead voters actually had died after casting early votes; two-time voters turned out to be people with similar or identical names.

Mr. Trump falsely asserted on Twitter that he would have won the popular vote — Mrs. Clinton received some 2.8 million more votes — “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

But even Republican leaders who once disavowed Mr. Trump’s fraud remarks have fallen silent. In October, the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, countered Mr. Trump’s rigged-election claims by noting through a spokeswoman that he was “fully confident” of an honest vote.

More here.