At a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin last year, then-candidate Trump said, “Now remember, we’re competing in a rigged election. This is a rigged election, folks, okay?”
An October 16, 2016 Trump tweet:
“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD.”
Even on Election Day, Trump continued to tell supporters that he’s dealing with “largely a rigged system.”
On election night, Trump won the electoral vote.
On January 23, 2017, President Trump told congressional leaders “that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.”
Two days later, President Trump, again took to Twitter:
I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including 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!
In a February interview with Fox host Bill O’Reilly, Trump said, “You take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people you have this — it’s really a bad situation, it’s really bad.”
He then appointed Vice-President Pence to head this “major investigation.”
What’s happened since?
The Pulitzer Prize-winning non-profit Center for Public Integrity interviewed U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairman Matthew Masterson.
“Masterson,” the Center writes, “the newly minted, Republican-nominated chairman of the bipartisan U.S. Election Assistance Commission ranks Election 2016 among the most trouble-free elections ever.
Center for Public Integrity: Every time you hear somebody say, “Was the election rigged?”, what do you say to them? Was the 2016 election rigged?
Matthew Masterson: No. The process had integrity. It was extremely well administered. And in the end, the people’s voice was heard and the process served voters well.
Center: How concerned are you, writ large, about voting fraud, and is this something that is real and something people need to be concerned about?
Masterson: Any fraud at all is something to be concerned about. The reality — and this data and information comes from those who directly run elections — is that the state and local election officials, and specifically the secretaries of state across the country that looked into it, find that fraud happens. It’s not widespread. It’s not an epidemic. But where it happens, it needs to be identified and prosecuted … I would encourage any voter that if they suspect there is fraudulent activity going on to work with their election officials to say something about it, and they can dig into it to find out what the facts are. We really need to look at just the facts. Those who run elections have the facts about this.
Center: What should voters know about the way elections are run across the country, and what degree of confidence should voters have going forward about the quality of the vote itself?
Masterson: Coming off this election with all the conversation about rigging, hacking and whatnot: Voters should have confidence in the process, that it’s accessible, that it’s accurate, that it has integrity. …
[Voters] should know one fact: This election – this election process, this vote, the voting machines – were not accessed, were not hacked. The process was secure. They should also know there are layers of security in place that start long before the election takes place. Election officials start very early with pre-election testing, securing the voting systems, chain of custody procedures. How they train and deploy poll workers and the steps that they take to secure the system. Post-election auditing. These are all steps election officials take to have layers of security in and around the vote tally systems to ensure the process has integrity. …
Center: One concern is the issue of not voter fraud but voter suppression. How big an issue that is, and do you have any evidence of widespread suppression or trying to keep people away from the polls?
Masterson: It’s something election officials hear about all the time.
I can tell you my experience in Ohio. When we dug into that. It was virtually non-existent. But to the extent that election officials could, they looked at their processes, looked at ways they could both educate the public on the process to serve voters. It is my opinion, in the vast majority of jurisdictions today in America, it is easier to vote today that it has ever been. We have more days of early voting, more resources available like online registration, more outreach to voters in the form of voter information tools that they know when they can vote, where they can vote, what’s on their ballot. They are all enfranchising matters that election officials across the country have taken. The election community as a whole has really embraced this discussion to say: How can we work to serve voters better? It’s as easy to vote today as it’s ever been. …
Center: What states are doing a good job at running elections? And what states need improvement?
Masterson: It’s hard for me to judge one state over another. But there are lots of states out there doing great work on this. One example is the states that have joined data sharing efforts where they’re exchanging data both within the states and across states to really identify: Where do we have duplicates? Where do we have deceased voters? Where do we have voters who’ve moved, and how do we reach out to them to make sure their information is up to date? The voter rolls today are in the best shape they’ve ever been in because of efforts like that by the states.
So where does Vice-President Pence’s “major investigation” into voter fraud stand at this time?
In a story last month, NPR reports (Mar. 11), “Well, apparently, not much has happened so far. A spokesman for Pence said in an e-mail this week that they’re ‘still doing the necessary groundwork.’ And White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday that the Vice President has been ‘talking to folks potentially to serve on’ his task force and that several secretaries of state have expressed interest.
“But a spokesperson for the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) says they’re unaware of any of their members being approached to participate in the investigation. And when NASS representatives went to the White House Tuesday to get an update on the vice president’s plans, they were told there was “no information to share” at this time.”
Will update when we hear more from the vice-president.