Claim: A number of Republican politicians, including former President Donald Trump, have claimed that voter fraud is a widespread issue, and that more election security measures need to be taken.
Rating: This claim is FALSE. Numerous studies, including those funded by Trump, have not found any widespread incidents of voter fraud. Those studies have said that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. But these claims of voter fraud have led 14 states to pass new voting laws which critics have said will make it harder for people to vote.
A number of politicians, including former president Donald Trump, have claimed that voter fraud is a widespread issue. Trump has claimed that voter fraud cost him the 2020 election. However, numerous studies debunk the claim that voter fraud is widespread. It exists, but it is exceptionally rare and nowhere close to the levels Republicans are alleging.
One study from MITRE, a research organization that specializes in cybersecurity, found no evidence of voter fraud in swing states during the 2020 elections. In another study, Stanford University researchers found that out of 4.5 million voter records from the state of Washington, there were only 14 cases where a ballot may have been stolen or submitted on behalf of someone who died. That is 0.0003% of all voters over an eight-year period from 2011 to 2018.
A Washington Post analysis of the 2016 election found only four documented cases of voter fraud. A comprehensive investigation published in the Washington Post in 2014 found only 31 credible incidents of impersonation fraud out of one billion ballots cast between 2000 through 2014. Numerous studies have found that voter fraud, illegal voting, or someone voting twice is exceedingly rare.
Even official government investigations have failed to find evidence of widespread voter fraud. While he was president, Trump created a commission to investigate whether there was voter fraud in the 2016 election. The commission found that there was “no evidence of widespread voter fraud.” The commission was disbanded in 2018.
The Department of Justice under President George W. Bush over a five year period found virtually no evidence of voter fraud.
In litigation over restrictive election laws, states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Wisconsin lacked evidence of widespread fraud. The Fourth Circuit Court noted that North Carolina “failed to identify even a single individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud.” Similarly, the Supreme Court, in its opinion upholding Indiana’s voter ID law (which required voters to show photo ID), noted that there was “no evidence of any [in-person voter impersonation] fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history.”
A federal trial court in Wisconsin found “that impersonation fraud—the type of fraud that voter ID is designed to prevent—is extremely rare” and “a truly isolated phenomenon that has not posed a significant threat to the integrity of Wisconsin’s election.” In other words, voter ID laws attempt to address a problem that does not exist.
Overall, the data says that voter fraud is rare and does not impact elections in any way. However, Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was illegitimate and wrought with fraud has spurred Republican politicians in 14 states to pass laws around voting, with more proposals in progress. The passed measures include making polls close one hour earlier, making it illegal to give people standing in line to vote any food or water (in a state where voters waited up to 10 hours in line), decreasing the number of ballot drop-off boxes for mail-in voting, and much more.
Republican politicians claim that their actions are about maintaining election integrity and restoring public faith in the electoral system. Critics of these laws say that it will make it harder for millions of people to vote, particularly if they want to vote by mail or vote absentee.
In April, a coalition of 100 businesses, including Amazon and Apple, opposed these new voting laws in a statement saying: “We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot. Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy and we call upon all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right of all Americans.” The statement ran as an ad in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major newspapers.