Election experts say Kris Kobach's voter fraud claims are misleading

Kris Kobach, the former vice-chair of President Donald Trump's now-disbanded commission on election integrit...

Posted: Aug 8, 2018 12:06 PM
Updated: Aug 8, 2018 12:06 PM

Kris Kobach, the former vice-chair of President Donald Trump's now-disbanded commission on election integrity, and Maine's Democratic Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap have engaged in a public back and forth over the issue of voter fraud, with Kobach accusing Dunlap, a former member of the commission, of being "willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose," and Dunlap claiming that the commission failed to find evidence of widespread fraud.

But election experts say that Kobach's claims are misleading and obscure the reality that voter fraud is rare in the context of the more than 1 billion votes cast since 2000.

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In a statement sent to CNN on Saturday claiming that Dunlap is "willfully blind," Kobach, who serves as Kansas' Republican secretary of state, said that the commission "was presented with more than 1,000 convictions for voter fraud since the year 2000." Kobach further claimed that this finding was only a fraction of the total and said that the "commission was also presented approximately 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election looking only at 20 states."

The statement did not cite sources for the numbers and Kobach's office did not respond to a CNN request asking what evidence the information was based on.

Three election experts interviewed by CNN, however, cast doubt on the claims made by Kobach, a noted proponent of voter fraud theories and related policies. For example, in 2016, Kobach supported Trump's false claim that "millions of people" voted illegally for Hillary Clinton in that year's presidential election.

Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles; Lorraine Minnite, a professor at Rutgers University-Camden; and Charles Stewart, a professor at MIT, all pointed out that while there have been isolated instances of voter fraud, there is no substantial evidence to indicate that it is a widespread problem in US elections and any assertions to the contrary are inaccurate.

"There isn't any reliable evidence that voter fraud is the kind of problem that Kris Kobach says it is," Minnite said. "I would never say that voter fraud never happens. But with respect to fraud committed by voters, there is very little evidence that this is any kind of a problem in American elections and Kobach needs to stop putting out information to the public that is misleading in suggesting that there is a problem."

Stewart said that it's important to "balance out" Kobach's assertion that the commission was presented with over 1,000 convictions, "with the number of votes cast since 2000, which is over a billion." He added, "on the face of what Kobach presents, it would be hard to argue that there is any large-scale issue."

Levitt, who has conducted extensive research on voter fraud allegations, said it appears Kobach may be basing the claim that the commission was presented with "approximately 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election" on a report from the conservative nonprofit Government Accountability Institute. But if that's the case, Levitt said that Kobach inaccurately represented the information in the report.

"The report itself does not say that there were about 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election," said Levitt, who also served as national voter protection counsel for Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008.

Instead, the report identified 8,471 instances of what it described as "highly likely" cases of duplicate voting, according to the researchers' criteria, that the report recommended be further investigated.

Minnite and Levitt said that Kobach's claim that the commission was presented with more than 1,000 convictions for voter fraud since 2000 may be based on data compiled by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. But both said there are key caveats that need to be taken into consideration.

"That report includes misconduct by election officials and other insiders that can't be attributed to voters, so that's important to note," Levitt said. "But even just including incidents back to 2000, that's over a time frame that includes well over a billion votes cast. So it's important to consider the context and the bigger picture so as not to distort the reality of the situation."

Kobach's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 297651

Reported Deaths: 6808
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19829231
Hinds18966395
Harrison16899283
Rankin12851265
Jackson12754234
Lee9722163
Madison9522204
Jones8042148
Forrest7295138
Lauderdale6879228
Lowndes6062140
Lamar593982
Lafayette5768114
Washington5235130
Bolivar4632124
Oktibbeha443295
Panola433798
Pearl River4219132
Warren4145115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall406595
Monroe3998129
Union397074
Neshoba3857171
Lincoln3630104
Hancock353378
Leflore3402122
Sunflower321386
Tate304674
Pike302797
Scott296771
Alcorn292763
Yazoo292266
Itawamba290775
Coahoma283169
Tippah280265
Copiah280159
Simpson277881
Prentiss271258
Marion258878
Wayne255741
Leake254572
Covington250480
Grenada248978
Adams235978
Newton233353
George232845
Winston222579
Jasper214545
Tishomingo213266
Attala210571
Chickasaw202054
Holmes183470
Clay179452
Stone173529
Tallahatchie171839
Clarke170773
Calhoun158728
Smith154333
Yalobusha146036
Greene128133
Walthall125441
Montgomery123540
Noxubee123431
Perry123335
Lawrence121621
Carroll119725
Amite112435
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102931
Tunica99824
Claiborne99130
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper91523
Quitman77514
Franklin76520
Choctaw70317
Jefferson62927
Wilkinson62727
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 499819

Reported Deaths: 10148
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson720331403
Mobile36423741
Madison32708469
Tuscaloosa24457422
Montgomery22805523
Shelby22276219
Baldwin19935289
Lee15083161
Calhoun13963296
Morgan13801255
Etowah13419327
Marshall11460215
Houston10130264
Elmore9515190
Limestone9440139
St. Clair9057228
Cullman9000183
Lauderdale8630214
DeKalb8509175
Talladega7647165
Walker6601260
Jackson6552104
Autauga634792
Blount6256128
Colbert6010121
Coffee5261104
Dale4685107
Russell408134
Franklin400879
Covington3999107
Chilton3922104
Escambia379573
Tallapoosa3637143
Clarke344553
Chambers3434111
Dallas3428142
Pike293173
Marion288996
Lawrence286287
Winston258668
Bibb246558
Marengo245357
Geneva240670
Pickens226357
Barbour213951
Hale212969
Fayette202857
Butler201666
Henry183741
Cherokee178240
Monroe166739
Randolph165441
Washington157136
Macon147845
Crenshaw146955
Clay146254
Cleburne140341
Lamar133933
Lowndes133151
Wilcox123125
Bullock117736
Conecuh107224
Perry106427
Sumter101032
Coosa90324
Greene88932
Choctaw56123
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