Post-Election Fallout: Voter Fraud or Wishful Thinking?
Updated: Jan 3, 2021
The 2020 election has stretched far beyond November 3, Election Day, as President Donald Trump seeks to contest his defeat. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Ever since the election results announced Democrat Joe Biden as president-elect, Donald Trump has denied his own defeat, refusing to concede. Trump tweeted on November 4, “I will be making a statement tonight. A big WIN!” But as ballots continued to be counted and the odds looked worse, Trump decided to deal a series of legal blows in an attempt to salvage his chances of reelection.
Trump’s History With Voter Fraud
This isn’t the first time Donald Trump has claimed voter fraud. In his 2016 presidential election against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity, “You have 1.8 million people who are dead, who are registered to vote, and some of them absolutely vote. Now, tell me how they do that.” Trump suspected that there were between three million and five million illegally cast ballots. In the following January, after being successfully inaugurated, Trump said that he would be asking for an “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.”
Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach led the commission. Complying with court orders, they turned over documents from the voting integrity commission to Democratic Matthew Dunlap, Maine Secretary of State who said that the documents show there was a “pre-ordained outcome” and that the commission report draft’s evidence section was “glaringly empty.”
His findings were argued against by Kobach who said the commission presented 8,400 cases of double voting in 20 states. “No matter how many cases of voter fraud you show them, there will never be enough for them to admit that there’s a problem,” he said. Koback claimed that the number would be exponentially higher if the analysis was done on all 50 states. But in response, Dunlap claimed those numbers were never brought before the commission and instead presented over 1,000 convictions for various forms of voter misconduct since 1948. Unfortunately for Trump, the commission was ultimately disbanded.
2020 Election Voter Fraud Claims
At the beginning of this year, COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., forcing many states into lockdown and dramatically shifting the election. Amidst the pandemic, many resorted to mail-in voting, a historic amount compared to years past. But this development was seen as bad news for Trump. In a poll by the Morning Consult, 65 percent of Democrats preferred to vote by mail while only 28 percent of Republicans preferred voting by mail. This may have been a factor in Trump's claim that mail-in ballots presented a “tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans” as early as April.
In August, he tweeted, “The Democrats are demanding Mail-in Ballots because the enthusiasm meter for Slow Joe Biden is the lowest in recorded history, and they are concerned that very few people will turn out to vote. Instead, they will search & find people, then ‘harvest’ & return Ballots. Not fair!” This idea spread across Twitter with the hashtag #StoptheSteal.
There were also many theories circulating, such as a certain type of pen being handed out that would invalidate ballots, or that millions of ballots were being dumped or destroyed. An example of this that Trump brought to the public’s attention was that “it was reported in one of the newspapers that they found a lot of ballots in the river. They throw them out if they have the name ‘Trump’ on it.” On October 1, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany explained that Trump was referring to absentee ballots in Wisconsin that were found in a ditch. These claims were later refuted when the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported, “No Wisconsin absentee ballots were found in mail discovered in a ditch in the Fox Valley last week, the state’s top election official said Thursday.”
According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, Republicans’ trust in the election system plummeted dramatically. About 70 percent of Republicans say they didn’t believe the 2020 election was free and fair. Within these individuals, the majority believed that it was the mail-in voting that led to widespread voter fraud or that the ballots were tampered with in some way. Their claims seemed to be backed up by the president, allowing skepticism and unreliability to grow.
Regardless, Trump proceeded to file over 30 lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, Georgia, and Arizona because “there were more votes than people who voted and in big numbers.” Trump’s campaign encouraged their donors to support a legal defense fund so that he could fight these cases in court.
Unfortunately for them, so far at least 26 cases have been denied, dismissed, or withdrawn. In Pennsylvania, Republicans discredited the count on November 4 by claiming that GOP observers weren’t allowed into the rooms where votes were being counted. But this turned out to be false, as one of Trump’s attorneys admitted they had “a nonzero number of people in the room.” Three lawsuits were filed in Michigan the same day and Republicans have alleged that there was impropriety in the ballot counts. In all cases, judges have said that theory did not provide evidence to back up their claims.
In Arizona, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee argued that poll workers pushed or told voters to push a button on a tabulating machine to cast their ballot, even after it detected double voting due to the use of Sharpie pens. This would disqualify many of their votes. But state officials have insisted that Sharpies are one of the best utensils to use with these tabulators because of the fast-dry ink. In addition, Arizona Secretary of State’s lawyer, Roopali Desai, said that only 180 votes are at issue and that it “is not going to make one iota of a difference.”
Response From Republicans
There has been a mixed response from Republican lawmakers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown his support on the Senate floor, saying, “We have a system in place to consider concerns, and President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.” Others such as Lindsey Graham and Kevin McCarthy endorsed the claims that Trump had won the election and that there was wide scale fraud.
On November 12, the Cybersecuirty and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), an agency Trump created in 2018, published a statement which explained that the election was “the most secure in American history” and that they found “no evidence of any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” This was the first time the CISA, which is within the Trump administration, contradicted the President’s claims of voter fraud. In turn, Trump fired the CISA’s director Christopher Krebs in a tweet, saying that his statement was “highly inaccurate.” He also fired Mark Esper, the defense secretary on November 9 which raised concerns that Trump might fire other top national security officials.
As Trump’s allegations weren’t panning out, more GOP senators had begun to recognize Biden’s victory. After Trump’s speech from the White House on November 5, Rick Santorum, Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, and Larry Hogan were among the first Republican figures to denounce the President’s claims.
On November 19, Senator Ben Sasse admitted his doubts with the President’s attempts to reverse the election’s outcome: “When Trump campaign lawyers have stood before the courts under oath, they have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud—because there are legal consequences for lying to judges.” Representative Lis Cheney shared similar thoughts in regards to the campaign claiming the fraud that supposedly impacted the election results. “If they have genuine evidence of this,” Cheney said, “they are obligated to present it immediately in court and to the American people.”
With these turn of events, it doesn’t seem like reelection will become a reality for Trump anytime soon.