Trump resurrects 'conspiracy theory' that millions vote illegally

President Trump just can’t seem to give up on an idea that he may have actually won the popular vote in 2016, despite the fact that his assertion has been shown to be false.

“In many places, like California, the same person votes many times,” said Trump during an event in West Virginia Thursday afternoon. “You’ve probably heard about that. They always like to say, ‘Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ It’s not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”

In fact, experts who have examined the claim have ruled that it is a conspiracy theory. Since he lost the popular vote in the November 2016 election, Trump has claimed that millions of people voted illegally to try and explain why Hillary Clinton received nearly 3 million more votes than him. There is no evidence historically to support Trump’s assertion, and multiple studies have found little evidence of voter fraud, much less millions of votes. A comprehensive 2014 report examining years of elections turned up 31 instances of credible fraud out of one billion votes cast. There have have been limited documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Trump’s West Virginia event was billed by the White House as a roundtable discussion on tax reform, but the president quickly veered off course, returning to a topic that he hadn’t discussed for months. Early on in his presidency, Trump regularly asserted that he would have won the state of New Hampshire if not for buses of people coming into the state to vote illegally. Pressed for proof of such a claim, the administration dispatched senior policy adviser Stephen Miller to defend it.

“I can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics,” said Miller on ABC News’ “This Week.” “It’s very real. It’s very serious. This morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence.”

That appearance occurred in February 2017, and the White House has yet to find the venue in which to lay out its evidence. Last year, Trump created a commission to investigate voter fraud and gather data to bolster its assertions, but requests to states to turn over voter registry information was widely rejected by officials of both parties.

“They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said at the time. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”

Trump shut down the commission in January, citing “endless legal battles.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has been called “the king of voter suppression” by the American Civil Liberties Union, served as the vice chairman of the commission and pushed the debunked theory that millions of people voted illegally. In 2016, Kobach lost a lawsuit and was forced to restore the registrations his office had stripped from nearly 20,000 Kansans. He found himself in court again earlier this year defending his methods in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Kobach had one of his own expert witnesses refute the claim millions had voted illegally and could cite just 11 examples since 2000 of a noncitizen voting in Kansas.

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