An investigation conducted by The New York Times has turned only one case of confirmed voter fraud by an undocumented immigrant in the 2016 presidential election. The report puts a dent into President-elect Donald Trump's assertion that he would have won the popular vote if only legal citizens had cast a ballot.
In an investigation that consulted election officials from all but one state, The New York Times found a miniscule amount of voter fraud attempts. State election officials responded that they found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, with only eight states currently examining a handful of accusations.
Tennessee proved to have the highest amount of allegations, 40 credible cases currently under review by state election officials. Georgia came in second with 25 cases currently being investigated.
Meanwhile, officials from 26 states and Washington D.C. have reported no credible accusations of illegal voting during the general election.
The only state that declined to participate in the study was Kansas, whose Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach has distinguished himself by advocating for the toughest voting requirements in the country, calling for all voters to present a birth certificate or passport at the polls to prove their citizenship, according The Washington Post.
The one case of confirmed voting fraud by an undocumented immigrant occurred in Ohio, when a man without citizenship cast his ballot after his legal wife registered him. The issue was resolved amicably: when the man discovered that his ballot had broken the law, he reported himself to county election officials and requested that his vote be stricken from the record.
The report provides contradictory evidence to President-elect Donald Trump's assertion that undocumented immigrants had cost him the popular vote.
On Nov. 27, the president-elect stated on Twitter that he would have defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in raw votes if it were not for alleged voter fraud committed by non citizens.
"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," he said.
Currently, the ballot count of the 2016 presidential election indicates that Clinton had captured nearly 3 million more votes than Trump, with 48.3 percent of the national vote compared to his 46.2 percent, according to CNN.
Of course, U.S. elections are not decided by raw votes but the Electoral College, which Trump won by 74 electoral votes. Despite there being evidence that voting fraud is miniscule, Republican lawmakers have asserted that it remains an epidemic that endangers democracy.
Resident scholar Thomas E. Mann of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that voter fraud has become a partisan tool, accusing GOP lawmakers of using the allegation to justify voting laws that disadvantage voters who are more likely to vote Democrat: low-income workers and people of color.
"The old notion that somehow there are all these impostors out there, people not eligible to vote that are voting — it's a lie," Mann said. "But it's what's being used in the states now to impose increased qualifications and restrictions on voting."
While the latest report indicates that voting fraud is so rare that it is unlikely to sway any election, the debate over its existence and how to counter it is unlikely to dissipate.