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Opinion >  Editorial

Voter fraud claim doesn’t add up

Before the Trump Commission was formed to track down millions of votes that were allegedly cast illegally, according to the president, five states decided to look for themselves.

The study found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Delaware and Maryland out of the 11.5 million votes examined. Three of the states use mail-in ballots and two have in-person voting.

In Washington state, 74 votes out of 3.36 million cast were flagged. Oregon found 54. Together these cases accounted for 0.002 percent of the ballots cast in those two states. If that same percentage applied nationwide, there would’ve been about 2,600 fraudulent votes cast in the 2016 presidential contest. Hardly enough to overturn the popular vote margin of about 2.9 million.

And that’s what makes this Trump Commission exercise so silly. It was bad enough when Trump said during the debates that he might not accept the outcome if he lost, but he’s not even accepting it in victory, which undermines the legitimacy of the results in all races, not just his.

Of course, he doesn’t doubt the Electoral College tally, which is all that matters in the presidential contest.

Still, he couldn’t accept his popular vote deficit, so he formed the election fraud commission with no evidence that millions of people cast illegal votes (and all of them for Hillary Clinton).

The head of the commission, Kris Kobach, has scored nine convictions for voter fraud in his state of Kansas, which has 1.8 million registered voters. Still he is gung-ho in finding 3 million to 5 million illegal votes nationwide.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, has called the suggestion of widespread fraud “ludicrous on its face.”

Fraud proponents talk a lot about dead people remaining on voter rolls, and sometimes that’s true. Counties do get behind in expunging names of the deceased. But dead people voting is another matter. Of the 74 possible voter fraud cases in Washington, a grand total of one, in Cowlitz County, involved a person apparently voting in place of someone who died.

We hasten to add that 74 is the maximum total. The cases have been turned over to prosecutors for action, and it may turn out that there’s a reasonable explanation once these voters have been contacted.

The more typical example is someone voting in more than one jurisdiction. Fifty-nine of the 74 cases in Washington involved people voting in two states. Four of them were registered in Spokane County, not exactly a total that tips election outcomes. The remaining cases involved people voting twice within the same state.

Nonetheless, officials should take these cases seriously. Chris Gregoire defeated Dino Rossi by a mere 129 votes in the 2004 gubernatorial contest.

Wyman said in a news release, “We work closely with local elections officials, and when we find credible evidence that illegal voting activity has taken place, we turn it over for further investigation.”

But there is zero evidence of voter fraud on the scale alleged by Trump, and it’s a waste of time and money to try to prove it.

All this really does is undermine public trust in our electoral systems without reasonable cause.

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