Were there 3 million illegal votes from undocumented immigrants in this year’s presidential election? Well, that’s what some websites are saying.
"Report: 3 million votes in presidential election cast by illegal aliens," reads a headline on InfoWars, a conspiracy website ran by Alex Jones. The article has been shared via Facebook more than 48,000 times when we last looked.
So is there any truth to it?
Well, we don’t know for absolute certain. But the report is actually a tweet, and the person who authored the tweet won’t explain how he arrived at his figure. If that isn’t reason enough to be skeptical, independent experts and historical analyses suggest it’s highly suspect.
In other words, don’t buy it.
Where’s the report?
As evidence of its claim, InfoWars’ headline refers to a report from VoteFraud.org and tweets from Gregg Phillips, whose Twitter profile says he’s the founder of VoteStand, a voter fraud reporting app.
There is no report from VoteFraud.org, however, and Phillips told PolitiFact he is not affiliated with that website. The information comes from tweets made by from Phillips on Nov. 11 and Nov. 13.
Here they are:
Phillips would not provide any additional information when asked by PolitiFact. He said he has chosen not to release more information because he is still working on analyzing the data and verifying its accuracy. Phillips would also not say what the data is or where it came from, or what methodology he used.
Phillips said he would release the information publicly once he is finally finished.
According to his page on LinkedIn, Phillips is a former finance director of the Alabama Republican Party. He also served as executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party and was managing director of a super PAC that supported Newt Gingrich’s 2012 campaign for president.
Plenty of reason to be skeptical
While we have no idea how Phillips arrived at his claim that 3-million noncitizens voted, people who have made similar claims in the past have cited a 2014 report that claims 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010 midterm congressional elections.
That report was based on data from a Harvard survey of people. But the data was flawed, which created flaws in the subsequent report.
The authors of the survey say a small percentage of respondents, who are citizens, accidentally misidentified themselves as noncitizens on the survey. This is because the respondents didn’t read the question carefully and accidentally selected the wrong response to the question.
How do researchers know this? One of the authors of the survey, Brian Schaffner, said people changed their answers later when they were asked about their citizenship.
"When we took out people who changed their answer on the citizenship question and only look at people who answered consistently that they were noncitizens, we found no reported noncitizens who voted," Schaffner told PolitiFact.
Other research contradicts Phillips’ tweet.
News 21, a national investigative reporting project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, found just 56 cases of noncitizens voting between 2000 and 2011.
A report by the liberal Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that most cases of noncitizens voting were accidental. "Although there are a few recorded examples in which noncitizens have apparently registered or voted, investigators have concluded that they were likely not aware that doing so was improper," reads the 2007 report.
States that have tried to purge noncitizens from voter rolls, meanwhile, have found even government data lacking.
In 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott’s administration started an effort trying to crack down on noncitizens voting by comparing driver's license data against voter rolls.
Through this process the Florida Department of State created a list of 182,000 potential noncitizens that had voted. That number was whittled down to 2,700, then to about 200 before the purge was stopped amid criticism that the data was flawed given the number of false positives — including a Brooklyn-born World War II vet.
Ultimately, only 85 people were removed from the voting rolls. State officials began to pursue a second attempt at a purge in advance of the 2014 election but then abandoned that effort, too.
Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, called Phillips’ claim "fake news."
"There is no credible evidence I have seen to show large numbers of noncitizens voting in U.S. elections anywhere," Hasen said. "The idea that 3 million noncitizens could have illegally voted in our elections without being detected is obscenely ludicrous."
Reports claim 3 million "illegal aliens" cast votes in this year's election.
The articles point back to tweets from Gregg Phillips, who has worked for the Republican Party and has a voter fraud reporting app. But Phillips will not provide any evidence to support his claim, which happens to be undermined by publicly available information.
If Phillips does release a more detailed report, we will consider that information. But for now, this claim is inaccurate. We rate it False.
Email interview with Rick Hasen, UC-Irvine School of Law political science professor, Nov. 17
Email interview with Adam Cox, law professor at New York University, Nov. 17
Interview, Gregg Phillips, Nov. 17
News 21, "Comprehensive Database of U.S. Voter Fraud Uncovers No Evidence That Photo ID Is Needed," Aug. 12, 2012
Brennan Center for Justice, "The Truth About Voter Fraud," 2007
InfoWars, "REPORT: THREE MILLION VOTES IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAST BY ILLEGAL ALIENS," Nov. 14, 2016
Milo, "REPORT: ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS CAST MORE THAN 3 MILLION VOTES IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION," Nov. 14, 2016
TheNewAmerican, "Vote Fraud Monitoring Group Says Three Million Noncitizens Voted in Presidential Election," Nov. 14, 2016
Freedom Daily, "3 Million Illegal Immigrants Being Investigated For Voting After Obama Told Them It Was Safe To Do So…" no date
Gregg Phillips, Twitter
The Washington Post, "Florida’s voter purge explained," June 18, 2012
Tampa Bay Times, "Florida Gov. Rick Scott's 2012 voter purge violated federal law, court rules," April 1, 2014
PolitiFact, "Donald Trump wrongly says 14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote," Oct. 24
PolitiFact, "U.S. Rep. Hastings says Florida's noncitizen voter purge is a "backdoor poll tax." June 7
The Washington Post, "Could non-citizens decide the November election?" Oct. 24, 2014
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