Trump makes more bogus voter fraud claims

As Donald Trump has continued to dominate the Republican primary, anti-Trump conservatives have continued to insist that Trump isn’t a real Republican.

As far as his core appeal goes, this is bogus. Donald Trump is winning the Republican primary because he is saying things that lots and lots of Republican voters agree with.

But there is a kernel of truth in the claim: Donald Trump is parroting and exaggerating Republican themes, but he’s doing so with a clear lack of intellectual background for them. In other words, Trump’s policy positions are largely in line with what you’d expect from a generic Republican presidential candidate, but he wouldn’t be able to tell you why the Republican Party believes these things.

This is abundantly clear on issues where Trump’s actual policy positions represent breaks with Republican orthodoxy — especially on health care. Trump sounds the right notes in insisting that Obamacare is a disaster and that being able to sell insurance across state lines is a good idea, but apart from that, there isn’t much there. Aside from the notion that letting people die in the streets is, in fact, bad — a notion that appears to itself be in violation of Republican orthodoxy.

However, Trump’s tenuous grasp on conservative lines of thought is equally apparent on issues where he agrees with his adopted party. One need look no further than his take on voting rights to see why:

Even the most diehard voter ID advocate would tell you that this simply isn’t how voter impersonation fraud works. Hell, in “some places” — by which Trump almost certainly means majority-minority precincts — the sheer wait times the polls would be too long for this claim to hold up. In Miami in 2012, for instance, it would have taken roughly ten business days to vote 19 times, with would-be fraudsters having to stand in line for six hours at a time to cast each fraudulent ballot (polls are open in Florida for twelve hours on Election Day).

Of course, that’s assuming that voter impersonation fraud is an actual thing that happens on even the most basic of scales. It isn’t. Most voter ID advocates at least make an attempt to address this fact. Trump doesn’t.

Instead, Trump simply states that tons of you-know-whos are voting over and over again without anyone calling foul — a claim he made earlier this cycle. As I wrote then, not only is this ridiculous, but it shows a clear misunderstanding of how conservatives understand this issue:

Donald Trump, via iprimages / Flickr

Donald Trump, via iprimages / Flickr

By itself, it isn’t all that interesting that Trump is alleging widespread voter fraud in American elections. A large subset of his core voters have sincerely-held religious beliefs that there is a widespread Democratic conspiracy to funnel undocumented immigrants and felons to the polls on Election Day, without which Barack Obama would never have been “elected” president. However, the specific nature of the voter fraud Trump is alleging is what makes his claim interesting.

That’s because the voter ID laws states have passed are designed to prevent voter impersonation fraud, keeping people who are ineligible to vote (undocumented immigrants, felons, minors, etc.) from showing up and casting ballots under the names of people who are listed as eligible. Taking a step beyond the politicians touting these laws, however, Trump is claiming that the problem is actually duplicate voting, with people who may or may not be eligible to vote once showing up to vote a second, third or fourth time. Voter impersonation fraud can fall under that umbrella — theoretically, if you can pull off voter impersonation fraud once, you can pull it off twice — but Trump seems to be claiming that American elections look like a caricature of the 19th Century.

You know, something like this:

Going beyond wild allegations of duplicate voting on the part of Democrats, Trump has also accused election officials in Florida — without any reason or evidence — of rigging early voting to favor of Marco Rubio:

As Capital New York reports, Florida law enforcement has confirmed that no one from the Trump campaign ever reached out to them to follow up on these claims.

It is rather fitting that the establishment Republican candidate is getting hit with baseless allegations of voter fraud, given that baseless allegations of voter fraud have been embedded in the establishment Republican playbook since 2008. However, the way in which Trump is parroting these lines demonstrates how little thought he’s actually given to these issues, along with just how illegitimate he considers electoral defeats.

So yeah, these claims are nuts, but they’re less than a full step past the folks he’s mimicking.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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