This article is meant as an introduction to what counting illicit votes would look like. It is necessarily incomplete, but it is long. And given the reaction, it is important. I thus will leave it as the main post for two days (no post tomorrow, in other words; besides, this is four posts in one).
Update Make sure to see the full article at Stream. It is long (3,000 words), but you’ll see it is a bare introduction.
How many votes in the past presidential election were cast illegally or fraudulently? Some say none to few. Others, such as President Trump, say a couple of million. The mainstream press insist there is “no evidence” for systemic problems in the electoral process. Yet evidence does exist, only that evidence is disputed or ignored.
Here is the story so far. President Trump lost the popular election by more than two million votes. Yet shortly after the election he said, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He later estimated the fraudulent margin to be some 3 to 5 million.
He also said , “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”
Mr Trump’s claims launched waves of horrified apoplexy in the press (who at this early point know no other reaction). The New York Times was reduced to using the L-word, i.e. “liar”. The Washington Post said Trump’s charge “is not supported by any verifiable facts”. Even politicians in his own party, such as Senator John McCain, said “I obviously have seen no evidence of illegal voting.”
Various rhetorical tricks then played out in the mainstream press to give the impression illegal voting was rare in the extreme, or even non-existent. An academic study which estimated there were some 800,000 illegal votes from non-citizens was excoriated. Much evidence in plain site was just plain ignored. Yet, so far, there has been no systematic attempt at estimating the illicit vote count, and such an estimate is required before dismissing or accepting Mr Trump’s claims. The best that can now be said is nobody knows the right answer.
Sloppy “fact” checking
[Dot dot dot.]
Kinds of bad votes
Before investigating a contentious academic study of electoral fraud from non-citizen voting, it helps to list the main sources of fraudulent or improper votes in Presidential elections:
- Legal non-citizens; i.e. those who are here legally but who are ineligible to vote but do anyway;
- Law-breaking non-citizens; i.e. those who have broken laws to come here and are not in the formal immigration pipeline and who vote illegally;
- The dead; which comprises both legal and illegal votes;
- The fictional; i.e. names which are entirely made up;
- The multiple; i.e. citizens who vote more than once;
- Felons; i.e. citizens barred from voting.
The dead requires clarification. Some citizens vote early and legally and then die before the official election date. Searches afterwards might turn some of these folks up as “dead voters”. The culprit is early voting and not fraud or ill intent. Of course, names of the deceased can also be, and have been, used by the unscrupulous.
Direction manipulation, by ballot box stuffing and, if it were possible, by hacking, would largely fit under the fictional category. The Chicago example of running the same ballot through the counting machine, and the example of malfunctioning machines fit here.
In order to come to total illicit votes, estimates are needed from each source.
The dead and felons
The dead whose names have been used improperly do not appear to account for a large number of bad votes. Many dead people are registered, as Pew reported, but their names have not been discovered to have been systematically misused. Still, there is substance (and here) to the many Chicago jokes like this: “My father voted Republican all his life. Since he died he votes Democrat”. No one therefore knows the best estimate of dead voters, but the Pew study does give an upper bound.
[Much, much more at Stream.]