About those claims that the 2016 election is “rigged”

This is a companion piece to the lead story, Could our Presidential election be “rigged”? Five things you need to know


1. Voter fraud

Republicans have been making unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud — and the media have amplified those claims — since the nail-biter than was the 2000 election.

Between 2002 and 2006, the Department of Justice secured convictions against 86 people for crimes relating to election fraud. Over the same period, there were 196,139,871 ballots cast. In 2002 and 2004 in Ohio, there were four instances of ineligible persons voting or attempting to vote; there were 9,078,728 ballots over the same period.

In 2014, Justin Levitt, a professor at the Loyola Law School, found only 31 credible incidents of voter impersonation from 2000 to 2014. More than 1 billion ballots were cast during that period.

Yes, there’s a chance someone who isn’t eligible will try to vote. Possible does not mean probable. Statistically, you are more likely to be struck by lightning.

Democrats have argued that these unsubstantiated claims — the very definition of fear-mongering — have justified substantial voting restrictions across a country dominated by the Republican party at the state level. There are 31 Republican governors. Here’s Ballotpedia’s illustration:


The result of Republican agitprop is “the biggest rollback to voting rights since the Jim Crow era.” Examples:

  • 14 states have new restrictive voting laws going into effect for the first time this year
  • 20 states have enabled new restrictive voting laws since 2010
  • Voters in 8 states will face new and strict photo ID laws at the polls: AL, GA, IN, KS, MS, TN, VA, WI. Two were free states during the Civil War; Kansas was a territory with a slave state constitution.
  • Courts are finding these restrictions violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act

But the problem that voter ID is supposed to solve does not exist.


2. Voting – and tabulation – happen under watchful eyes

In Washington State, some members of the Republican Party have stated that they will monitor the 44 24-hour ballot drop boxes in King County. [For what purpose? Drop-boxes are locked and secure, bolted down, non-tamperable in the normal meaning of the word. Yes you could possibly damage a box with a bulldozer. But that would damage all ballots.]

Washington State votes by mail (along with Oregon; Colorado is initiating VBM this year). We retired an expensive and duplicative system (polling stations coupled with a lot of permanent absentee ballots) in favor of vote by mail with a handful of accessible voting centers for anyone who needs help voting. We have three AVCs in King County.

King County is the largest jurisdiction in the United States to conduct all elections by mail. The 2012 presidential election was the first where everyone in the county voted by mail. We operate webcams once we begin processing ballots. Political parties have observers on-site.

Once ballots have been mailed, anyone — staff, observers, visitors, media — who is inside our keycard access area (everything except the lobby) must be credentialed and wear a badge at all times. We use color-coded lanyards for at-a-glance identification of security clearance.