More than three months since President Donald Trump asserted that 3 to 5 million illegal votes had cost him the popular vote, state investigations have turned up only a few hundred cases of potential voter fraud committed during the 2016 presidential election.
In late November 2016, Trump took to Twitter to assert that voter fraud was so endemic in the U.S. that his loss in the popular vote to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due to illegal votes.
"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," Trump tweeted.
Shortly after his inauguration, Trump repeated his assertion during a meeting with GOP lawmakers, stating that he believed up to 5 million votes cast during the election were illegitimate. He later announced a White House investigation into voter fraud, although no such commission has since been formed.
As of March 6, investigations carried out by state officials have found that the cases of voter fraud numbered in the hundreds, not millions, The Hill reports.
Of the state election officials who have announced instances of voter fraud, Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate of Iowa has disclosed that only 10 votes in Iowa had been improper. Michigan election officials found 31 individuals had voted twice on election day. Rhode Island is currently investigating eight individuals for illegal voting behavior.
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted of Ohio has disclosed that his state has recommended that law enforcement investigate 82 noncitizens for possibly voting illegally.
No state investigation has turned up illegally cast votes that had tipped the electoral result of a jurisdiction.
Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach of Kansas, a vocal endorser of voter identification laws, noted that voter fraud may be more pervasive than current findings show and "it does take time to collect the evidence and do the research."
Kobach cited that more than 5 million voters are registered in more than one state, asserting "Sometimes people will be tempted to take that opportunity and vote twice."
Douglas Keith, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, expressed skepticism that investigations will turn up a high volume of noncitizens casting ballots, saying they are strongly discouraged by the prospect of deportation.
"The penalties for a noncitizen voting are just enormous ... That's just not a risk that we would expect people to be taking," Keith said.
Democratic lawmakers have asserted their Republican colleagues promote concerns about voter fraud so they can pass stricter voter identification laws to suppress turnout within minority communities. On Jan. 27, former Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander of Missouri accused Trump of making his voter fraud claim to dismiss his loss in the popular vote.
"By deliberately undermining confidence in the integrity of our democracy, the president can make it quite a bit easier for his party to push legislation making it harder for certain eligible voters to vote," Kander wrote in an editorial for The Washington Post.
"Curtailing voting rights by dishonestly inventing widespread fraud has been a major part of the Republican Party's political strategy for a while," Kander added. "Now that plan is getting a major boost from a president who has no problem just making stuff up."