What are Americans to make of Donald Trump’s insistence that he would have won the popular vote but for “millions” of fraudulent votes?
I suppose the first thing we need to do– as my mother used to admonish me– “Consider the source.” As Philip Roth memorably described Trump in an interview published by the New Yorker,
“[he is] ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”
Given that (actually, somewhat understated) description, I suppose it is pointless to expect Trump to understand even the most basic aspects of America’s electoral system–especially when his ego requires not understanding it.
Challenged by people who do understand how voting works (including the difference between registering to vote and casting a ballot), Trump has announced an “investigation” into “rampant” voter fraud, to be headed by Mike Pence. As Ed Brayton reports,
So now he says Pence will be leading the investigation. Why Pence? You have an entire department of the DOJ that specializes in voter fraud and voting rights. Pence seems to be his dumping ground. He says really stupid things and then leaves it to Pence to clean up after him. As for the allegations themselves, he offers this defense:
Shortly before announcing the Pence-led commission, Trump dug in on his false allegations of voter fraud and insisted he had been vindicated by, well, “many people.”
“Many people have come out and said I am right,” the president told O’Reilly. He offered no additional support to his claims.
This is an argument made by someone who doesn’t understand basic reasoning. “Many people” believe the moon landings were fake. Many people believe they’ve talked to aliens. Many people think the earth is 6000 years old. The number of people who believe in those things provides precisely zero evidence that they are true.
Ignore, for purposes of this post, the fact that careful academic studies and legal investigations have consistently found virtually no in-person voter fraud–the sort of actual fraud that is used to justify those “Voter ID” laws that are really intended to suppress turnout by poor and minority voters.
The “evidence” Trump has repeatedly cited for his insistence that there is “massive voter fraud” is the fact that lots of dead people remain registered, and many others are registered in two locations.
Think about that.
Now, it would be great if state-level offices responsible for maintaining voter rolls could purge people immediately after they die; it would also be great if everyone moving to a new house or new state notified those offices of the move. (I’ve never even thought about adding that to my moving “to do” list, and I bet no one reading this has either.)
Earth to Donald: If people vote twice (or once, if they’re dead) that’s fraud. Being registered in two or more places for a time after dying or moving is not, and it’s very common.
You know, if Trump understood anything about the government he is inexplicably leading, he could avoid repeatedly making a fool of himself.