Here Are The Problems With The Trump Team’s Voter Fraud Evidence – NPR

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at his wife, Melania, as they cast their votes at P.S. 59 in New York on Election Day.

Evan Vucci/AP

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Evan Vucci/AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at his wife, Melania, as they cast their votes at P.S. 59 in New York on Election Day.

Evan Vucci/AP

Consider it another Trump flip-flop: back in October, Donald Trump told a crowd, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win.”

Trump went on to decisively win the Electoral College, but now he is questioning the results anyway. In a tweet this weekend, the president-elect alleged — providing zero evidence — that “millions of people” voted illegally, and that that’s the reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

On a Monday morning phone call, members of the Trump team tried to back up the claim when NPR’s Tamara Keith asked them for corroborating evidence. However, nothing they cited really made that case.

Jason Miller cited two sources on the call, as transcribed by CBS’s Sopan Deb:

“In particular, I’d point to the 2014 Washington Post study that indicated more than 14 percent of non-citizens in both in 2008 and in 2010 elections indicated they were registered to vote. … Some numbers include the Pew Research study that said that approximately 24 million, or one out of every eight voter registrations in the United States[,] are no longer valid or significantly inaccurate. And in that same Pew Research study, the fact that 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state. So all of these are studies and examples of where there have been issues of both voter fraud and illegal immigrants voting. …”

The two pieces of evidence

First, there is the “Washington Post study” that Miller cites. He was referring to a 2014 post from the Monkey Cage, a political science blog at the Post. In that piece, Old Dominion University professors Jesse Richman and David Earnest wrote about a study they conducted of data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, an operation that conducts ongoing surveys of voters.

Richman and Earnest indeed found that “14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples” they used said they were registered to vote. Not only that, but some of those respondents said they in fact did vote.

However, the results of that study were heavily called into question, as Deb pointed out. In fact, that Monkey Cage article prominently features a disclaimer at the top:

“Note: The post occasioned three rebuttals (here, here, and here) as well as a response from the authors. Subsequently, another peer-reviewed article argued that the findings reported in this post (and affiliated article) were biased and that the authors’ data do not provide evidence of non-citizen voting in U.S. elections.”

That peer-reviewed article comes from a team of researchers that includes Stephen Ansolabehere, who developed the CCES. He and two colleagues wrote at the Monkey Cage that Richman and Earnest’s findings were based on “measurement error.” For example, 56 respondents (a tiny sliver of people) changed their citizenship status between 2010 and 2012, and 20 of those had changed from citizen to noncitizen.

That’s “highly unrealistic,” Ansolabehere and his colleagues wrote.

“The mistake that Richman and his colleagues made was to isolate this small portion of the sample and extrapolate from it as if it were representative of some larger population,” they added.

Later on, the Washington Post‘s Fact Checker likewise gave this claim (when made by Eric Trump) four Pinocchios.

That’s one piece of evidence Miller put forward. He also pointed to a 2012 study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The numbers he cites are in fact correct: That study showed that 24 million voter registrations at the time were “no longer valid” or were “significantly inaccurate,” and that nearly 2.8 million Americans were registered in more than one state.

That’s a sign that states’ voter registration databases could use some extra upkeep but it’s not itself evidence of fraud, as Miller said it was.

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