Over the past week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has reinvigorated the narrative that the U.S. election process is “rigged” in his opponent’s favor, repeating the claims both on the campaign trail and in a series of tweets Saturday and Sunday.
Specifically, Trump suggests that “large scale voter fraud” and a “coordinated effort” between the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media, which publishes “stories that never happened into news,” has almost irrevocably tipped the scales in the Democrats favor.
The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016
“The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing false accusations and outright lies in an effort to elect Hillary Clinton president,” Trump said Saturday in Bangor, Maine. “We are going to stop it. We are not going to back down.”
Over the summer, Trump began to accuse certain voting precincts in Pennsylvania of “cheating”, particularly in Philadelphia, intimating that heavily Democratic areas of the city would report exaggerated vote counts.
The arguably undermining rhetoric on the part of the GOP nominee has drawn the ire of Democratic and even some Republican leaders, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who have refuted Trump’s claims.
“Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” a Ryan spokeswoman said in a statement.
Even Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said on NBC’s Meet The Press Sunday that “we will absolutely accept the results of the election. . . . One of the greatest traditions of America is the peaceful transfer of power.”
While the popular perception among suburban and rural voters of big-city election fraud still exists, according to professor Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, there have only been 44 incidents of alleged voter fraud or impersonation in the U.S. between 2000 and 2014.
The mostly heavily concentrated areas of election impropriety, according to professor Levitt’s analysis, are in Texas, where eight such cases have occurred throughout the state, and in the city of San Diego, which has seen five election mishaps since 2000.
Despite the apparent lack of voter fraud evidence, an AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey released Oct. 1 found that 74 percent of U.S. adults and 86 percent of registered Republicans believe there is at least “some fraud” in America’s election system.
Such public opinion could have devastating effects for the next president, particularly if it’s Hillary Clinton, who will likely have to deal with accusations of illegitimacy from the opposition party in Congress like Barack Obama did after Republicans took control of the House in 2010.
“I’m afraid a President Clinton is going to start off with far too many people raising similar questions,” said former Harry Reid adviser Jim Manley.
[Reuters] [NPR] [Washington Post] [AP] [Image courtesy Drew Sheneman/Tribune Content Agency via U.S. News & World Report]