The Latest Voter-Fraud Lie
By The Editorial Board, www.nytimes.comView Original February 14th, 2017
“It is a fact and you will not deny it.”
That unnerving remark — made on Sunday by Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to President Trump — sums up the new administration’s attitude toward the truth: We Decide, You Report.
Mr. Miller made the comment at the end of a heated back-and-forth with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who had asked him to defend Mr. Trump’s latest claim of voter fraud — that his narrow loss in New Hampshire was due to voters who had been bused in illegally from Massachusetts. When Mr. Stephanopoulos pressed him for even a single example of fraud, Mr. Miller responded: “George, go to New Hampshire. Talk to anybody who has worked in politics there for a long time.”
O.K., why don’t we?
Start with New Hampshire’s secretary of state, Bill Gardner, who has been in office for four decades. “We have never gotten any proof about buses showing up at polling places,” Mr. Gardner told The Boston Globe.
Or how about Tom Rath, the state’s former attorney general and a Republican, who tweeted on Sunday that “allegations of voter fraud in NH are baseless, without any merit — it’s shameful to spread these fantasies.” Even New Hampshire’s governor, Chris Sununu, who shortly before the election floated his own evidence-free claim about buses of illegal Democratic voters, has backed off.
But Mr. Miller had plenty more to say about the “serious problem” of voter fraud, which includes, as he put it, “millions of people who are registered in two states or who are dead who are registered to vote.” Being registered in two states is not voter fraud; it’s an innocent record-keeping error that happens when people move and forget to notify election offices to take their names off the rolls — people like Stephen Bannon, Mr. Trump’s top White House adviser (Florida and New York); Sean Spicer, his press secretary (Virginia and Rhode Island); Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser (New York and New Jersey); and Steven Mnuchin, his Treasury secretary (New York and California). (States purge their rolls regularly, but they don’t catch everyone who moves, and there’s no evidence of any multistate-registration conspiracy.)
Mr. Miller also trotted out what he called the “astonishing statistic” that 14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote — but that statistic is drawn from a single study that has since been debunked.
In a reality-based world, people bringing wild claims of widespread lawbreaking should carry the burden of proof. With voter fraud, it’s the opposite — fact-averse Republicans have for years been hawking the idea of large-scale voter fraud and then daring others to do the real work of proving them wrong. Meanwhile, the baseless claims continue to get converted into policy in the form of stricter voting laws, like requiring prospective voters to show a photo ID — which, by the way, New Hampshire does, despite the lack of any evidence that people go to the polls pretending to be someone else. The real effect of the laws is to make voting harder for students, the poor and people of color, all groups that lean Democratic.
Baseless claims about “widespread” voter fraud have become so frequent, and so shameless, that it’s tempting to succumb to the fatigue of fighting them and laugh them off. Under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who became famous by prosecuting bogus voter-fraud cases in Alabama, that would be a big mistake.
The Latest Voter-Fraud Lie - The New York Times