Debunking Trump And His Allies' False Claims About The Election
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
We are now eight days past November 3. And despite clearly losing the election, President Trump has not conceded to President-elect Joe Biden. Instead, Trump's campaign and his allies have made repeated baseless claims that the election was stolen. While those claims haven't gotten far in court, they have put pressure on some officials to reassure the public that the count was fair. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said today that the nearly 5 million ballots in that state would be recounted by hand.
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BRAD RAFFENSPERGER: This will help build confidence. It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvas all at once. It will be a heavy lift.
CHANG: Well, here to dissect some of the many false claims the Trump campaign has made about voting are NPR's Pam Fessler and Miles Parks. They both cover voting. Hey to both of you.
MILES PARKS, BYLINE: Hi there.
PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.
CHANG: Pam, let's start in Nevada. Republicans are making claims that ineligible voters cast ballots in Nevada. What are they basing that claim on?
FESSLER: Well, last week, the Republicans alleged that not only dead people voted in Nevada, but thousands of out-of-staters. They even referred a list of more than 3,000 voters to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation. Then on Sunday, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, claimed that more out-of-staters should be added to that list.
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MATT SCHLAPP: Through our due diligence, we've been able to find that at least 9,000 of them voted in this election - non-Nevadans voting in Nevada.
FESSLER: The fact is also, though, that's just not true. Joe Gloria, who's the register - registrar of elections in Clark County, said that many people living outside the state are still eligible to vote in Nevada, like college students and members of the military and their families. And I spoke to one voter, Amy Rose, who currently lives in California with her husband, who's in the Air Force. Their legal residence is still in Nevada. And she was very upset to learn that she was on the Republicans' list.
AMY ROSE: I'm being accused of voter fraud without any basis in fact, and that's an attack on my integrity. So, yeah, absolutely, it was upsetting. And also it's upsetting because our votes are being used to question the integrity of the entire election.
FESSLER: And these Republicans also said the ballots were illegally cast in the names of dead people, but they could only cite two potential examples, and election officials are investigating.
CHANG: OK. Miles, let's turn to you because the Trump campaign has spent a lot of energy on Michigan. What sort of allegations are they pushing there? And how have those arguments fared in court so far?
PARKS: Yeah, in Michigan, they're really focused on election officials - allegations that workers were lying about when ballots were received, falsifying data about ballots. And they even say poll workers, in some cases, were coaching voters on who to vote for. These accusations, similar to the ones in Nevada, are completely unsubstantiated.
I talked to Chris Thomas, who ran Michigan's elections for decades under both Republican and Democratic state administrations. He was in that giant vote center in Detroit where they were counting absentee ballots, where a lot of these crimes were said to have happened. And he says Republicans were in the room the whole time.
A lot of the accusations in the lawsuits are just misrepresentations, he says, of how the system works. One allegation is that people in the center weren't verifying signatures, for instance, but that's because that verification work on the signatures was done at the county clerk's offices before those ballots got to the center. When I talked to Thomas this morning, he sounded honestly disturbed at the state of the conversation around voting this week.
CHRISTOPHER THOMAS: Now there's going to be a very large group, millions of people, who take Trump at his word, who are being fed misinformation, lies, if you will, by people who know full well they're not true.
PARKS: It should be noted that Joe Biden's lead in Michigan is now well over 140,000 votes - a margin so large that most legal experts say no litigation is likely to affect it.
CHANG: Right. Pam, Republicans and especially President Trump have long claimed that voter fraud is rampant. You are someone who has covered voting for two decades. How does that claim square with reality?
FESSLER: Well, Ailsa, you know, we hear these allegations again and again and again, and they seldom pan out. I mean, remember just a couple of months ago, the president was in an uproar over a few Trump ballots being thrown out in Luzerne County, Pa. He said this was a blatant example of fraud. The Justice Department launched an investigation. But it turned out that it was a mistake by a temporary worker at the county election office, who was immediately dismissed.
And then let's not forget, the president came into office claiming 3 million people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton, but nobody ever produced any evidence of that. And it's all part of this narrative that you can't trust the system when Republican and Democratic election officials across the country say voter fraud is extremely rare.
CHANG: That is NPR's Pam Fessler and Miles Parks. They both cover voting.
Thanks to both of you.
PARKS: Thank you.
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