President Trump has taken the unprecedented step of declaring victory and blamed voter fraud, but are his claims true? Here’s what you need to know.
President Trump has taken the unprecedented step of declaring victory and blamed voter fraud, but are his claims true? Here’s what you need to know.

Are Trump’s voter fraud claims true?

President Donald Trump has come out swinging as the US waits for an election result, blaming voter fraud and saying he would take it to the Supreme Court to dispute the counting of votes.

"We did win this election," Trump said in an extraordinary speech from the ceremonial East Room of the White House after 2am on Wednesday.

"This is a fraud on the American public."

Results so far show the Republican is in a fight for his political life with Democratic candidate Joe Biden. He called for "voting to stop" in a reference to counting mail-in ballots that should be legally accepted.

The issue has already become critical in tight states, with mail-in votes expected to favour Democrats.

Trump's premature claims of victory are unprecedented for a US president and come in a year when record numbers of mail-in ballots - more than 100 million - were cast due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We were getting ready for a big celebration. We were winning everything and all of a sudden it was just called off," Trump told supporters.

"This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election," he said.

Trump said "we will be going to the US Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop."

Republican Chris Christie called the speech a "bad strategic decision. It's a bad political decision."

So are the fraud claims true? Here's what you need to know.

 


RELATED: When we'll know US election results

VOTER FRAUD 'EXTREMELY RARE'

In a nutshell, no. While there have been mistakes made with mail-in ballots such as ballot papers being sent to the wrong addresses, experts agree widespread voter fraud is extremely rare.

The US based Brennan Centre for Justice, a nonpartisan policy institute states despite extensive claims about it taking place, voter fraud is "very rare."

"Voter impersonation is virtually non-existent, and many instances of alleged fraud are, in fact, mistakes by voters or administrators. The same is true for mail ballots, which are secure and essential to holding a safe election amid the coronavirus pandemic," it said.

The centre cites a collection of studies from 2004 to 2017 that found voter fraud incredibly rare. One 2017 study found the overall rate at less than 0.0009 per cent across the country.

"The verdict is in from every corner that voter fraud is sufficiently rare that it simply could not and does not happen at the rate even approaching that which would be required to "rig" an election," the centre notes.

"Electoral integrity is key to our democracy, and politicians who genuinely care about protecting our elections should focus not on phantom fraud concerns, but on those abuses that actually threaten election security," it said.

The BBC's reality check team also investigated claims of voter fraud and found instances highlighted by President Trump were simply mistakes.

For example he claimed in mid-October 500,000 false applications were made in Virginia, when in fact it was applications sent out with the wrong return address.

The Virginia Center for Voter Information (CVI) said: "We worked for weeks to make sure that no Virginia voter was inconvenienced as a result of our printing error."

In another case cited by the President in Ohio, he claimed 50,000 ballots were "fraudulent", however again this was a mistake where voters got the wrong ballot paper in the post and "serious mistake" was corrected.

Federal Election Commission head Ellen Weintraub has also said: "There's simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud."

The Annenberg Public Policy Center's Fact Check service also states there is "nothing untoward about counting ballots after election day"

"Counting doesn't 'often' go on past Election Day. It *always* does," tweeted Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine ahead of the vote.

"Results on election night are preliminary, even in states that do relatively quick counts. Electoral college votes are not even cast until mid December, and the Congress counts the votes in January."

Key states this year including Pennsylvania and Michigan, where officials cannot start counting mail-in ballots until Election Day.

Trump narrowly won both states in 2016, but has trailed Joe Biden in polls this year.

Follow the latest on the US election here.

 

Originally published as Are Trump's voter fraud claims true?


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