Politics

Two Things Wrong With Trump's Voting Comments

In a campaign speech in Erie, Pennsylvania on Friday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced he could only lose in the state if there was "cheating" involved at the polls.

In addition to calling for the help of law enforcement at voting polls, he then urged people to “watch other polling places” to make sure people are providing voter identification.

There are two major things inherently wrong with what Trump is saying about "cheating" at the polls:

1. Voter fraud is almost non-existent.

Numerous studies and investigations have proven that voter fraud is mostly a myth. Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School conducted a detailed analysis of alleged incidents of voter fraud across the country and ultimately stated, "Usually, only a tiny portion of the claimed illegality is substantiated — and most of the remainder is either nothing more than speculation or has been conclusively debunked."

Even though it is rare, the myth of voter fraud is widespread. As The New York Times reported, "36 percent of Republicans think voter impersonation affects a few thousand or more votes, compared with 20 percent of independents and just 7 percent of Democrats."

During his rally, Trump specifically called out the possibility of “cheating” at the polls in Pennsylvania, because he “know[s] the state well” and has been “studying it.”

However, according to a database by News21, there have only been 23 cases of alleged election fraud since 2000 in Pennsylvania.

2. His language expressing the need to "patrol" polling places harkens to a history of suppressing the vote of minorities.

The voter identification requirement Trump mentions in his speech is one of the major hurdles minority voters face when casting their ballots. As The Atlantic has noted, voter ID laws, which are being enforced in 33 states, disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters and the poor, who may have more difficulty obtaining the correct identification, and who tend to vote for Democrats.

During the 2012 election, there were numerous disturbing reports about a well-financed group called True the Vote, an outgrowth of a Texas "patriot" group, attempting to visit polling places and bully voters who seem like potential "impersonators."

On voter identification laws, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said a previous interview with ATTN:, "It is one of the most despicable things I’ve seen the hard right do deliberately take the right of people to vote away; this is what people died for."

Referring to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who marched at Selma, "This is what he was beaten for."

In the same interview, Lewis told ATTN:, "Throughout America today there is a deliberate systematic effort to make it harder and more difficult for many people to participate in the political process."

Lewis, a Civil Rights movement hero known for leading peaceful protestors during the historic march to Selma continued:

"The right to vote is precious almost sacred – it's the most powerful right that we have, the right to vote to participate in the democratic process and we’re making it harder and more difficult."

Watch the video of Trump's speech here.

[h/t NBC]