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Opinion >  Editorial

Trump’s vote claim irresponsible

Voter fraud. Again.

We thought this hobby horse would be stuffed into the attic after the election, but it’s back, thanks to a candidate who won.

The president-elect is irritated with the news that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. So he took to Twitter to wrongly claim that millions of illegal votes were cast. He offered no evidence, but he did browbeat a CNN reporter for failing to prove that it didn’t happen.

Trump’s source, apparently, is the conspiracy website Infowars, whose founder, Alex Jones, also believes the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax perpetrated by anti-gun forces. We prefer not to believe the president-elect believes everything the loopy Jones says, but Trump did implicate Sen. Ted Cruz’s father in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Jr., and he was the loudest promoter of the “birther” nonsense surrounding Barack Obama.

Trump’s affinity for conspiracies was relatively harmless when he was a private citizen. But he’s about to be the leader of the free world, and the consequences are monumental. He has a responsibility to check things out. The whole world is watching.

When the president-elect says there is voter fraud, the public cannot simply shrug it off. It undermines the foundation of our republic. Moreover, it’s an insult to election staff and citizen observers, who work to reinforce the credibility of elections in every state.

Plus, his allegation doesn’t add up. Some of the states he singled out for fraud, such as Virginia and New Hampshire, have voter ID laws, which are specifically installed to prevent illegal voting. Is he saying those laws didn’t work? Officials in those states were perplexed by Trump’s tweet.

If he truly believes there was “serious voter fraud,” he should call for massive recounts or for an investigation. Instead, he has mocked the Wisconsin recount spearheaded by Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein.

So which is it? Fraud or no fraud? If the former, what about all of the other races on those ballots? Should those be called into question? What about the fact that elections in most states, including Washington and Idaho, are run by Republican secretaries of state?

The best explanation is that he only thought of his race, and the popular vote count has crawled under his skin. If so, he needs to get over it. As president, he must think outside of himself and do what’s best for the country.

More than 60 million people voted for Trump; he has a lot of support. So let’s review what’s known about voter fraud. Numerous investigations have shown that it is rare, and it certainly doesn’t happen often enough to tip elections. Yes, sometimes there are dead people on voter registration lists, but they don’t zombie-walk to the polls. Voter impersonation is scarce.

If Trump has proof, he should show it. If he doesn’t, he should consider George W. Bush and the 2000 election. He didn’t win the popular vote either, but he was able to move forward with dignity.

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