Is Trump Right About Voter Fraud?

In December 2016 Donald Trump was elected America’s 45th President Although Trump had won the election, results showed more people across the nation had actually voted for his opponent, Hillary Clinton

It was not long before Trump claimed the election had been rigged He insisted that between 2 and 5 million votes were fake, thus reducing his share of the popular vote In 2017, he established a vote fraud commission to deal with the problem But this was not the first time he made such claims Law Professor Richard Hasen says, “Both before and after the election, Trump made wild and unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud… Before the election, many of the claims were about voters voting five, 10, or 15 times by impersonating other voters

” Who is right? How widespread is voter fraud? Voter fraud is defined as criminal interference to influence the outcome of an election Methods of voter fraud include impersonating other people at the polls, casting multiple votes, buying votes, changing the vote count, intimidating people to vote a certain way, or suppressing people who would vote for the other side Professor Hasen states, “Trump said repeatedly that 3 to 5 million illegal voters had cast ballots, a claim so outlandish it is hard to know where to start to refute it” Indeed, a 2017 report by the Brennan Center for Justice concluded that there were just 30 cases of possible non-citizen voting in the 2016 election, and even these aren’t confirmed The Brennan Center found that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than impersonate another voter

Similarly, a 2016 study by Dartmouth College found absolutely no evidence to support claims of voter fraud around Trump’s election victory They showed that amongst the 1 billion votes cast in US elections between 2000 and 2014, there have been only 31 cases where voter fraud has actually been proven UFO sightings are more common than voter fraud

That does not mean the US is free from voting fraud Journalist Massimo Calabresi reported that the Russian government hacked into American servers to increase Trump’s score on digital voting machines Evidence shows that hackers supported by Russia targeted voting systems in at least 21 states in the run up to the election

The full extent and outcome of this hacking operation is yet to be known Sadly, there are numerous historical examples of voter fraud around the world In Guyana’s 1985 election, the incumbent Desmond Hoyte banned state-owned media from mentioning rival political parties He also hired groups to stuff ballot boxes with votes cast by dead people Unsurprisingly, Hoyte won in a landslide

In 1988, Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party falsely declared that the computerised vote-counting system had broken They declared themselves the winners Party loyalists then burned all of the ballot papers on huge fires so that claims of fraud could not be proven In Vietnam’s 1955 election, Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem received more votes than there were eligible voters He then declared himself President, Prime Minister, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Defense Minister

In 2017 the Nigerian electoral commission suspended 205 electoral officers found guilty of accepting bribes, collectively worth around $10 million, to influence the country’s 2015 election results When a second election was organised in one state, events took a grisly turn Staff from the electoral commission were kidnapped, beaten and slaughtered by armed thugs allegedly hired by politicians In the northern hemisphere, Russia’s 2016 election reinstalled Vladimir Putin as the country’s President, with his United Russia party winning 343 of 450 seats Yet, as journalists Robert Coalson and Valentin Baryshnikov say, the outcome was likely produced by “massive fraud

comparable to what independent analysts found in [previous Russian elections in] 2007 and 2011” Amazingly, tapes from polling station cameras show local election officials stuffing ballot boxes with fake votes and hiding these illegal activities from outside observers Reuters News Agency even conducted an experiment into fraudulent voting, when one of their team cast a vote for a non-Putin party

During the count, official figures stated that every single vote from that station was in favour of Putin To top things off, in the same station, voters were seen casting multiple votes without reprisal Incredibly, Ella Pamfilova – the head of Russia’s election commission – maintains that there is absolutely no evidence of fraud, and that the election was legitimate However, voting fraud remains relatively unusual This is especially true in the West, where regulatory checks and balances make it very hard to commit electoral fraud, undetected

Countries where voter fraud is likely to take place usually have a corrupt government According to an Afrobarometer report, just 25% of voters in African countries have “deep trust” in the transparency of their electoral processes The most extreme cases of voter fraud are in areas with greater civil unrest In Kenya, where corruption is widespread, the government deployed 180,000 police and armed forces to protect polling stations during the August 2017 election This is partly due to the aftermath of the country’s 2007 election, when 1,000 people were brutally killed as protests raged following the results

It happened again after the 2017 election, and Kenyan police have killed several dozen citizens History shows that the majority of voter fraud is organised by governments In this case, states with centralised or semi-autocratic governments are much more vulnerable to it But, as accusations of Russian involvement in the 2016 American election show – sometimes governments turn their hand to influence elections in the rest of the world Voter fraud happens all over the world

In the US it is extremely rare, but it can happen, and the system may be vulnerable to interference from other world powers Sadly, with elected governments able to make or break a country’s future, it is hugely important to recognise electoral fraud when it takes place, and rise against governments who abuse their power

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