Three weeks ago, the votes of more than 135 million Americans were counted, and Donald Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election. It was a surprising result, given that polling in the run-up to the election suggested that Hillary Clinton’s support in the Midwest would assure she could hit 270 electoral votes. That support didn’t exist when it came time to vote, and that was that. It seemed very likely as Nov. 8 approached that Donald Trump was poised to reject the result, regardless of which states fell into which candidate’s column. For months, he’d been alleging that voter fraud was rampant and that his supporters needed to police the polls. Rather amazingly, he has picked up the same thread after the election, charging that Clinton won the popular vote (by 2.5 million votes and counting) solely because of fraudulent ballots. There wasn’t evidence of widespread voter fraud before the election. There isn’t evidence of widespread voter fraud afterward, either. In fact, there’s not evidence of even modest voter fraud.
We combed through the news-aggregation system Nexis to find demonstrated cases of absentee or in-person voter fraud — which is to say, examples of people getting caught casting a ballot that they shouldn’t — during this election. This excludes examples of voter registration fraud — the filing of fraudulent voter registration information. Those aren’t votes cast — and given that organizations often provide incentives for employees to register as many people as possible, registration fraud cases (while still rare) are more common.
Here’s what we found:
A woman in Iowa who voted twice. Terri Lynn Rote had the enormous misfortune of bad timing. Right as the candidate she supported, Trump, was drawing attention to fraud cases, Rote decided to try to vote twice in Des Moines, and got caught. The case made national headlines simply by virtue of the fact that it happened when it did, and that she voted for who she voted for. For what it’s worth, she suggested that the fault lay with Trump. “The polls are rigged,” she said to a local radio station by way of explaining her multiple votes, echoing another of Trump’s complaints.