Democracy Dies in Darkness

Fact Checker

Stephen Miller's bushels of Pinocchios for false voter-fraud claims

By Glenn Kessler

February 12, 2017 at 2:00 PM

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller appeared on ABC's "The Week" on Sunday, spouting a bunch of false talking points on alleged voter fraud. (He also repeated similar claims on other Sunday talk shows.) To his credit, host George Stephanopoulus repeatedly challenged Miller, noting that he had provided no evidence to support his claims. But Miller charged ahead, using the word "fact" three times in a vain effort to bolster his position.

Here's a guide through the back and forth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move on, though, to the question of voter fraud as well. President Trump again this week suggested in a meeting with senators that thousands of illegal voters were bused from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and that's what caused his defeat in the state of New Hampshire, also the defeat of Senator Kelly Ayotte.

That has provoked a response from a member of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub, who says, "I call upon the president to immediately share New Hampshire voter fraud evidence so that his allegations may be investigated promptly."

Do you have that evidence?

Stephanopoulus is referring to a Feb. 10 Politico report of a closed-door meeting Trump held with senators to discuss the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court: "The president claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the 'thousands' of people who were 'brought in on buses' from neighboring Massachusetts to 'illegally' vote in New Hampshire. According to one participant who described the meeting, 'an uncomfortable silence' momentarily overtook the room."

Ayotte lost her Senate race by about 1,000 votes but did not challenge the results; Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in New Hampshire by nearly 3,000 votes.

MILLER: I have actually, having worked before on a campaign in New Hampshire, 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. 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.

This is false. PolitiFact New Hampshire in November gave the state's governor, Chris Sununu, a "Pants on Fire" for claiming that voters were bused in — and Sununu quickly retreated from his comment. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said voter fraud was not widespread problem, largely because the law requires voters to show a valid identification at the polls. If an ID is lacking, the voter's photo is taken, they have to sign an affidavit affirming their identify and then state officials follow up.

Watch more!
The Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee explains why White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s claims on Jan. 24 about voter fraud in the presidential election don’t add up. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

Sununu later said he did not mean to imply that "I see buses coming over," saying it was more of a figure of speech. "Sununu said he was referring to an incident over Portsmouth state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark allowing Democratic staffers to live at her house in the 2008 and 2012 elections," PolitiFact reported. "Those staffers voted in New Hampshire elections using Fuller Clark's address, which is not illegal, as they were living in the state at least 3 months before the election, the Attorney General later ruled."

Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire attorney general and prominent Republican in the state, tweeted this after Miller's comments:

We sent the White House the PolitiFact article and asked the White House for additional evidence. We will update if we receive a response.

MILLER: But I can tell you this, voter fraud is a serious problem in this country. You have millions of people who are registered in two states or who are dead who are registered to vote. And you have 14 percent of noncitizens, according to academic research, at a minimum, are registered to vote, which is an astonishing statistic.

Ugh. Miller has again resorted to bogus claims that we have repeatedly debunked.

To repeat:

A 2012 Pew Center on the States study found problems with inaccurate voter registrations, people who registered in more than one state (which could happen if the voter moves and registers in the new state without telling the former state) and deceased voters whose information was still on the voter rolls. But the primary author of the Pew report tweeted in response to Trump's staff's claim that he "can confirm that report made no findings re: voter fraud."

As to the 14 percent figure — stemming from research by Old Dominion University professors, using data from 2008 and 2010 — that also has been misrepresented by Trump and his staff. They have ignored updates and challenges to the research. The researchers have also warned that "it is impossible to tell for certain whether the noncitizens who responded to the survey were representative of the broader population of noncitizens."

One of the researchers, Jesse Richman, wrote about the Trump staff's use of his research. The results "suggest that almost all elections in the US are not determined by noncitizen participation, with occasional and very rare potential exceptions," he said, noting that "there has been a tendency to misread our results as proof of massive voter fraud, which we don't think they are."

In other words, the researcher whom Miller is citing says his research does not show what Miller claims.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You can't make a — hold on a second. You just claimed again that there was illegal voting in New Hampshire, people bused in from the state of Massachusetts. Do you have any evidence to back that up?

MILLER: I'm saying anybody — George, go to New Hampshire. Talk to anybody who has worked in politics there for a long time. Everybody is aware of the problem in New Hampshire with respect to

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm asking you as the White House senior — hold on a second. I'm asking you as the White House senior policy adviser. The president made a statement, saying he was the victim of voter fraud, people are being bused from

MILLER: And the president — the president — the president was.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence?

MILLER: If this is an issue that interests you, then we can talk about it more in the future. And we now have — our governance is beginning to get stood up. But we have a Department of Justice and we have more officials.

An issue of voter fraud is something we're going to be looking at very seriously and very hard.

But the reality is, is that we know for a fact, you have massive numbers of noncitizens registered to vote in this country. Nobody disputes that.

False. As shown above, this is disputed even by the researcher whose work is being cited by Miller: "There has been a tendency to misread our results as proof of massive voter fraud, which we don't think they are."

MILLER: And many, many highly qualified people, like Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, have looked deeply into this issue and have confirmed it to be true and have put together evidence.

And I suggest you invite Kris Kobach onto your show and he can walk you through some of the evidence of voter fraud in greater detail.

Miller mentioned Kobach, but the latter's efforts at proving voter fraud have been mocked in Kansas.

In a scathing editorial titled "Kris Kobach is a big fraud on Kansas voter fraud," the Kansas City Star accused the "publicity-seeking" Kansas secretary of state of throwing out "wild claims" and wasting taxpayer funds as part of "loathsome attacks on U.S. immigration policy."

State Rep. John Carmichael, a Democrat, has introduced a bill to strip Kobach of his prosecutorial power because he has "dramatically overstated the frequency of voter fraud during his tenure as Kansas' secretary of state," the Wichita Eagle reported in January. "Carmichael noted that Kobach has not brought a single case against a noncitizen for voting illegally. All of the cases he has brought concern U.S. citizens accused of voting in more than one state."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Just for the record, you have provided absolutely no evidence. The president's made a statement.

MILLER: The White House has provided enormous evidence with respect to voter fraud, with respect to people being registered in more than one state, dead people voting, noncitizens being registered to vote. George, it is a fact and you will not deny it, that there are massive numbers of noncitizens in this country who are registered to vote. That is a scandal.

As noted, the "enormous evidence" has been repeatedly debunked.

MILLER: We should stop the presses. And, as a country, we should be aghast about the fact that you have people who have no right to vote in this country registered to vote, canceling out the franchise of lawful citizens of this country.

That's the story we should be talking about. And I'm prepared to go on any show, anywhere, anytime, and repeat it and say the president of the United States is correct 100 percent.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you just repeated, though, you just made those declarations. But, for the record, you have provided zero evidence that the president was the victim of massive voter fraud in New Hampshire. You provided zero evidence that the president's claim that he would have won the general — the popular vote — if 3 million to 5 million illegal immigrants hadn't voted, zero evidence for either one of those claims.

The Pinocchio Test

Stephanopoulos is right. The White House continues to provide zero evidence to back up its claims of voter fraud. Officials instead retreat to the same bogus talking points that have been repeatedly shown to be false.

It's pretty ridiculous to cite research in a way that even the researcher says is inappropriate, and yet Miller keeps saying 14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote. The Republican governor of New Hampshire has admitted that he was wrong to say buses of illegal voters voted in the election, and yet Miller shamelessly suggests that is the case. Miller cites a supposed expert on voter fraud, Kobach, who has been mocked for failing to prove his own claims of voter fraud. Miller also repeats a claim about people being registered to vote in two states, even though that is not an example of voter fraud.

Miller earns Four Pinocchios — over and over again.

Four Pinocchios

(About our rating scale)

Send us facts to check by filling out this form

Keep tabs on Trump's promises with our Trump Promise Tracker

Sign up for The Fact Checker weekly newsletter


Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. He would like your help in keeping an eye on public figures. Send him statements to fact check by emailing him, tweeting at him, or sending him a message on Facebook.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

You obviously love great journalism.

With special savings on our Basic Digital package, you’ll never miss a single story again.

Already a subscriber?

Secure & Encrypted