Donald Trump’s newest campaign ad begins with a warning: “In Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans.” The commercial, which aired Friday as part of his $5 million swing state ad buy, harkens back to a claim Trump has been hammering for weeks — that the general election is rigged against him. The questionable claim looks to mobilize Republicans, with the all-important start of early voting in some states just weeks away. The presidential nominee has voiced strong support for North Carolina’s stringent voter ID law — struck down as discriminatory, but to be appealed — saying without it, voters will cast ballots “15 times” for Democrat Hillary Clinton. He also launched a new effort on his website last week seeking volunteers to root out fraud at the polls. That ID law Trump referred to had involved a broader package of restrictions — among them, reducing early in-person voting, which is popular among blacks in particular. At the same time, it exempted tough photo ID requirements for early mail-in voters, who were more likely to be white and Republican.
In all, 17 states were set to have restrictions for the first time in a presidential election, pending final appeals, such as voter ID or cuts to voter registration or early in-person voting. Among them: the battlegrounds of North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Georgia. Florida and Iowa had restrictions in place since 2012.
The potential impact is significant: Barack Obama’s strength among early voters in 2012 helped him capture Florida and Iowa despite losing the election-day vote in those states, according to voting data compiled by The Associated Press. He narrowly lost North Carolina by 92,000 votes; in 2008, Obama had won all three states plus Colorado, thanks to early voters.
… Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Rutgers University-Camden, says voter impersonation fraud is rare because it’s difficult to do on a large-enough scale to tip an election. “It’s so irrational to even try just for one or two more votes,” said Minnite, author of “The Myth of Voter Fraud.”