Trump invents voter fraud story to oppose absentee voting — even though he does it

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Trump's own commission failed to find any evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States.

Donald Trump falsely claimed on Wednesday that a million people had voted illegally in California and that the state had admitted this in a legal settlement.

At a press conference, Trump was asked about his opposition to voting by mail — a system used in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. He responded by claiming that "the great state of California" had settled a case brought by the right-wing group Judicial Watch and "they agreed that a million people should not have voted, where they were 115 years old and lots of things and people were voting in their place."

"I think there's a lot of evidence, but we'll provide you with some, okay? And there’s evidence that's being compiled just like it's being compiled in the state of California, where they settled with Judicial Watch, saying that a million people should not have been voting in — you saw that," he said.

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He then incorrectly stated that every one of the states with vote-by-mail systems "happens to be won by the Democrats."

Utah has not been won by a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 or by a Democratic Senate candidate since 1970.

Trump himself has notably voted by mail in the past, having cast an absentee ballot in last month's Florida primary and in the midterms in 2018.

Trump has made this claim before. Last June, he told NBC News, "Take a look at Judicial Watch, take a look at their settlement where California admitted to a million votes. They admitted to a million votes. ... Judicial Watch made a settlement. There was, there was much illegal voting."

FactCheck.org debunked Trump's claims then and PolitiFact rated it a "Pants on Fire" lie.

A January 2019 settlement between Judicial Watch, the state of California, and the county of Los Angeles over the removal of voters from registration rolls contained no admission of illegal votes whatsoever.

"No matter how much he repeats them, Trump's lies about voter fraud are patently untrue," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told FactCheck.org. "Specifically, the settlement with Judicial Watch, Los Angeles County, and the Secretary of State contains absolutely no admission to or evidence of 'illegal votes.' The President's claims are untrue and yet another distortion aimed at undermining confidence in our elections."

In reality, California and Los Angeles County agreed to check with inactive registered voters to see if any should be removed, as mandated by the National Voter Registration Act. Inactive voters by definition are those who have not voted in at least two consecutive federal general elections, meaning that none of the 1.5 million names Judicial Watch wanted scrutinized had cast any votes, let alone illegal ones.

Shortly after losing the 2016 popular vote by more than 2.8 million, Trump claimed — with zero evidence — that 3 million to 5 million illegal votes were cast against him.

In an effort to prove this, he appointed the "Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity" in May 2017 to search for voter fraud. Studies have consistently shown voter fraud to be virtually nonexistent in the United States, and Trump's commission ultimately found no evidence of widespread issues. The commission was disbanded in January 2018.

Trump has frequently cited Judicial Watch as backup for his claims, but independent fact-checkers have found that the group's statements are either mostly or entirely false.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.