Capitol Alert

Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud in California aren’t factual

Donald Trump listens to introductory remarks before speaking at the Trump Tower.
Donald Trump listens to introductory remarks before speaking at the Trump Tower. Associated Press file

President Donald Trump, who has falsely said he lost the popular vote because of at least 3 million illegitimate votes, called Wednesday for a “major investigation” into fraudulent voting last fall.

Trump, writing on Twitter, said the probe would look at “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

Trump’s investigation follows questions by reporters about why he wasn’t pursuing evidence though his administration to support his theory.

After losing the national popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.9 million, Trump tweeted, “... I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Sean Spicer, Trump’s spokesman, did not offer any evidence for his claims, but added that it has been a “long-standing belief” of the president (he began talking about the prospect of fraud in October, while trailing Hillary Clinton in polls). Spicer, in remarks Wednesday, listed California and New York as “bigger states” that merit a probe, adding, “That’s where I think we’re gonna look.”


Fact-checkers, academics, state and local elections chiefs and politicians from both major parties strongly dispute that extensive voter fraud has occurred. Last month, The Washington Post found just four documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

In California, Secretary of State Alex Padilla pointed in an interview Wednesday to “study after study and report after report” debunking mass voter fraud in this and previous election cycles. County elections officials report that they regularly clear their rolls of voters who have died or relocated.

Padilla, who previously invited Trump to bring forward evidence to support his assertions, said “to this day we have received nothing from them. They have yet to produce a shred of evidence.”

Padilla’s office employs an investigative unit that along with county prosecutors looks into elections irregularities. “As of now, we have zero evidence of noncitizen voting in the 2016 election,” he said.

Nationally, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a statement calling the idea that millions voted illegally in the fall election “absolute nonsense,” while House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, said he’s seen “no evidence to that effect ... I’ve made that very, very clear.”

The National Association of Secretaries of State, which is majority Republican, issued a statement reiterating claims it has made since Trump’s earlier assertions of illicit activity.

“We are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump, but we are open to learning more about the administration’s concerns,” the secretaries stated.

“In the lead up to the November 2016 election, secretaries of state expressed their confidence in the systemic integrity of our election process as a bipartisan group, and they stand behind that statement today,” the group added.

Academics from Dartmouth College recently completed an extensive study of voter fraud in the 2016 election, with their findings strongly suggesting that “voter fraud concerns fomented by the Trump campaign are not grounded in any observable features of the 2016 presidential election.”

In addition, the fact-checking website PolitiFact found “zero evidence” for the president’s charge that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” and “a lot of reasons to conclude that it didn’t happen.”

PoliGRAPH is The Bee’s political fact checker, rating campaign advertisements and candidate claims as True, Iffy or False.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago