Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to President Trump, defended his boss’s continuing insistence on rampant voter fraud in the 2016 election Sunday by offering an expert witness.
“I suggest you invite Kris Kobach onto your show,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “and he can walk you through some of the evidence of voter fraud in greater detail.” Kobach is Kansas’s secretary of state and is fighting the ACLU in federal court over his state’s recent voting restrictions. (A law passed in Kansas in 2011 was credited with disproportionately keeping young and black voters from the polls.)
On Monday, three networks invited Kobach on. Two pressed the issue. Kobach offered zero proof.
At question is not the existence of voter fraud at all. There are certainly instances in which people vote illegally, like the woman in Texas who cast ballots in 2012 and 2014 despite not being a citizen. The question is whether fraud occurs at a large enough scale to affect election results. A teenager stealing a candy bar from a convenience store every three weeks is different than armed men emptying its safe every night. Miller suggested that Kobach could prove the latter. He barely proved the former.
The first network to host Kobach was Fox News. He appeared briefly during “Fox and Friends,” interviewed by host Brian Kilmeade. Kilmeade began the segment by pointing to that woman in Texas, asking “why are many in the media working so hard to cover up these stories?” Kilmeade asked Kobach to explain why the media says there’s no proof and that fraud doesn’t happen.
The media doesn’t say that.
Kobach explained that there were 115 cases in Kansas of noncitizens on the voter rolls or trying to get on the voter rolls. Many of the people in Kansas have actually voted. And this, he said, was the “tip of the iceberg,” because “statistical analysis” of the state suggested that there might be 18,000 noncitizens on or trying to get on the voter rolls. Extrapolate to Texas or California, he said, and that’s hundreds of thousands of people. Noncitizen voters are a “proven reality,” he told Kilmeade.
Note the proof offered: Fewer than 115 people in Kansas registered to vote, “many” of whom have voted. As of last May, the Kansas City Star reported that he’d filed six fraud cases. In four, the perpetrators were convicted. Later, he told CNN that he’d achieved six convictions out of nine filed.
Extrapolate that outward to the country and you’d expect 667 convictions nationally. That’s not many candy bars, even if proven.
Kilmeade didn’t push back. When Kobach appeared later on sister network Fox Business, host Neil Cavuto was less compliant.
He played the snippet from ABC in which Miller said to seek out Kobach for evidence. “We have Kris Kobach here, the Kansas secretary of state, who says he does have proof of widespread voter fraud,” Cavuto then said. “Give me the proof.”
Kobach did not give him the proof.
“So there’s different kinds of voter fraud,” he said. “The kind that Stephen Miller was talking about was people who are registered in more than one state and who cast double votes. They live in Massachusetts and go vote in New Hampshire. … About 3 million people are registered in more than one state. It’s no crime to be registered in more than one state. But it is a crime if you actually try to vote in two votes. But every year, thousands of people do vote in more than one state.”
It’s not clear that’s true. There certainly are not thousands of people arrested for voting multiple times each year. Often, as the Brennan Center for Justice has found, apparent cases of double-voting are actually mistakes in how votes were recorded or confusing people with similar names who are registered in different states.
Kobach bragged about his state’s participation in Crosscheck, a group of states that compares voter rolls to identify possible multiple voters. Greg Palast, writing for Rolling Stone last year, indicates that the program flagged 7.2 million suspected double voters — and had brought criminal charges against four people.
The broader point Cavuto made, though, was about scale. He pressed Kobach to admit that there was no way 3 million people — a number used by Trump — had voted illegally. Kobach ceded the point, but suggested that the number of illegal votes from noncitizens could top 1 million nationally. His sole evidence for that was a study that’s been repeatedly debunked.
Then Kobach was on CNN, again with the Miller introduction. And guess what.
First, they tackled the recent patently untrue allegations from Trump that the vote in New Hampshire had gone against him because of cross-state voters in the state. Kobach said he’d talked to the secretary of state of New Hampshire, who said that 6,000 people had registered to vote on Election Day last year with out-of-state driver’s licenses. Fewer than 3,000 of them used Massachusetts licenses. How many of those were “legit” registrations, in Kobach’s words, and how many were fraudulent?
He had no idea. Host Kate Bolduan pointed out that he had no evidence at all that any of those 3,000 people voted fraudulently. Kobach conceded that he didn’t.
This is how it often works. Instead of pointing to video footage from the convenience store showing people robbing safes, those who claim rampant voter fraud instead talk about how many safes there are and how many people knew where the safes might be and the number of people who own drills that might be used to access a safe. But no empty safes, just a few candy wrappers.
Later, Kobach took issue with CNN’s framing of the conversation.
He had the opportunity to prove his point. He was on TV to prove his point. He didn’t.