In another strange twist, Donald Trump has cast doubt on the election that gave him the White House.
“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,” the president-elect said on Twitter Sunday.
“Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem,” Trump wrote in another tweet.
Trump's claim, hinging on the idea Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes, is possible but highly unlikely, according to election experts.
“It is very plausible that some noncitizens voted and that added to Clinton’s margins,” said Jesse Richman, a professor of political science at Old Dominion University in Virginia who has studied the issue. But, he added, there were not enough of those votes to give Trump the popular vote.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller cited a 2012 Pew Center on the States study as evidence supporting the president-elect’s statements. But that study didn’t offer a conclusion on the extent of voter fraud or numbers of illegal votes cast.
About one in every eight voter registrations – some 24 million – are no longer valid or inaccurate, the Pew Center analysis said. In addition, 1.8 million dead people remain on the voter rolls, and 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state, the authors said.
“States’ systems must be brought into the 21st century to be more accurate, cost-effective and efficient,” the report said.
An AMI analysis of theoretical illegal voting focused on voter populations in 12 states. These states – most of them favoring Democrats – all allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, according to immigration law expert Ilona Bray.
The dozen states also have some of the least restrictive voting rules in the nation. In California, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada and Vermont, no identification document is required to vote. And in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Utah and Washington, identification is requested in order to vote, but no photo ID is required to cast a vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The total estimated population of undocumented immigrants in these states is about 4.6 million, according the Migration Policy Institute, an independent nonpartisan group based in Washington, D.C. The institute’s demographic breakdowns of the overall illegal immigrant population in the United States indicate that the number of illegals of voting age in these 12 states would be 4.2 million.
Assuming that 53.6 percent of that population – the same percentage of registered voters who cast ballots for president in 2012 – voted on Nov. 8, the result would be about 2.2 million illegal votes. That’s about the number of votes Clinton now leads by in the popular vote.
Even so, it’s doubtful such a high percentage of undocumented immigrants would risk breaking the law and potentially drawing attention to themselves, according to some political scientists' research.
Richman's analysis looked at a larger pool of possible illegal voters – noncitizens, such as permanent legal residents, as opposed to only illegal immigrants. His basic assumption, based on the research from 2008, was that 6.4 percent of noncitizens voted, and 81.8 percent of those votes went to Clinton, while 17.5 percent went to Trump.
If 6.4 percent of the estimated 20.3 million noncitizens voted for president, the result would be about 834,000 popular votes added to Clinton’s tally. Excluding those votes would still leave Clinton with more than a million votes above what Trump received, Richman said.
Trump’s tweets have caused some consternation among elections officials.
“It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a prepared statement. “His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd.”
Still, the potential for abuses in the voting system continues to raise concerns. New York City’s Department of Investigation sent undercover agents to polling places in 2013 and discovered that the agents could successfully vote – in 61 recorded instances – as deceased or ineligible individuals. The undercover agents posing as ineligible voters were also not questioned by poll workers even when they said they no longer lived in the city.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, however, sees more smoke than fire in such investigation results.
“The Brennan Center’s ongoing examination of voter fraud claims reveals that voter fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly nonexistent and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud in elections relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators,” the center posted on its website.
Of course, there’s no shortage of street wisdom about the effects of illegal voting in the United States.
“When I die, I want to be buried in Louisiana, so I can stay active in politics,” said a former governor of Louisiana, the late Earl Long.