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Report: Election officials find no evidence of widespread voter fraud

The New York Times contacted election officials in every state, and none reported major voting issues.

Election officials in Gwinnett County, Georgia, sort absentee ballots. Despite the Trump campaign’s allegations, there is no evidence that widespread voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the election.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

In almost every state in America, election officials say they have found no evidence of substantial voter fraud, according to a New York Times report.

The Times’s Nick Corasaniti, Reid J. Epstein, and Jim Rutenberg contacted election officials in every state, both Democrats and Republicans, and of the 45 who responded directly, none reported any major issues with voting. For four other states, the Times “spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.” Texas was the only state not to respond to the Times’s inquiries, but the paper spoke with an election official in the state’s largest county: Harris County, which includes the city of Houston and has a population larger than many states.

Even as Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced a $1 million reward for voter fraud tips, the Harris County official told the Times that they “had a very seamless election.”

Steve Simon, Minnesota’s Democratic secretary of state, told the Times, “I don’t know of a single case where someone argued that a vote counted when it shouldn’t have or didn’t count when it should. There was no fraud.”

A spokesperson for Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican, offered a similar assessment in an email to the Times, saying, “Kansas did not experience any widespread, systematic issues with voter fraud, intimidation, irregularities or voting problems. We are very pleased with how the election has gone up to this point.”

To be sure, there were some minor issues scattered across the country. As Corasaniti, Epstein, and Rutenberg report:

Some states described small problems common to all elections, which they said they were addressing: a few instances of illegal or double voting, some technical glitches and some minor errors in math. Officials in all states are conducting their own review of the voting — a standard component of the certification process.

But the Times’s review found nothing rising to the level President Donald Trump and his orbit have alleged. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, baselessly alleged Saturday in Philadelphia — in the parking lot of a landscaping company — that elections there were full of fraud, but the office of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the Times that the elections in Pennsylvania were “fair and secure.”

Even as the president and his allies have continued to cast doubt on the election, the country’s democratic processes appear to have worked well.

America’s voting infrastructure seems to have worked well

America’s democracy is not without its flaws. Voter suppression is an issue in this country, most of it propagated by the Republican Party. In 2016, more than 20 percent of potential Black voters in four states were disenfranchised due to a felony conviction.

But voter fraud is nowhere near as big a problem as many Republicans claim. And 2020 was no different.

In fact, the Trump administration invited international election observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) to look into early voting, campaign activities, and Election Day voting, and they found no evidence of widespread fraud that affected the election’s outcome. Though the OAS’s preliminary report notes the organization’s work was limited because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they found no reports of voting irregularities.

And where they have been claiming otherwise, the stories have quickly fallen apart. In Pennsylvania, the state that pushed President-elect Joe Biden over the 270 electoral vote threshold, a postal worker had claimed that a postmaster in Erie — a politically heterogenous city in the northwest part of the state — had ballots backdated to be postmarked in time to be counted. But Erie Postmaster Rob Weisenbach called the allegations “100 percent false,” and the postal worker himself recanted his claims on Tuesday.

Then there is the bevy of pending lawsuits the president and his allies are using to continue to cast doubt on the outcome of the election. But by and large, they are not about actual voter fraud and will not change the result.

Take the Trump campaign lawsuit to stop 592 absentee ballots from being counted in Montgomery County, in suburban Philadelphia. There, the campaign is trying to have the ballots revoked because those voters didn’t handwrite their full address in a specific place on the outer absentee ballot envelope — something that the respondents point out is not a mandatory requirement. And as the Trump campaign’s lawyers admitted to a judge Tuesday, there is not currently any reason to believe there is any fraud connected to these votes. (Even if the suit is successful, it won’t go very far toward overturning the election — Biden won Montgomery County by more than 100,000 votes.)

As Vox’s Ian Millhiser explained, many of these lawsuits “rest on minor complaints that are unlikely to matter.” Trump’s campaign filed a suit to stop counting ballots in Michigan, for instance, where Biden was comfortably ahead. If you’re still in doubt, check out BuzzFeed News’ database investigating allegations of voter fraud — many are labeled as fake, false, or misleading.

As Biden prepares to take office on January 20, the president and his party are actively undermining American democracy. Trump’s attempts to discredit the results of an entirely fair election are highly unlikely to prove fruitful.