Did millions of ineligible people cast votes in the November election?

Allegations of voter fraud have dominated news headlines lately. But are these claims plausible? Last year, King County Elections Director Julie Wise told the Seattle Times that claims of widespread voter fraud were “wrong. Not true. Inaccurate.” Secretary of State Kim Wyman also called them “baseless” and “irresponsible.” And Matthew Masterson, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, defended the 2016 General Election as being “extremely well administered.”


Data from the Brennan Center for Justice validate that assessment. Researchers interviewed elections administrators in 42 jurisdictions, including King County, and found that… “improper noncitizen votes accounted for 0.0001% of the 2016 votes [23.5 million] in those jurisdictions.”

In this multi-state study, only two of the 42 jurisdictions experienced any suspicious votes. Total number of incidents? Fewer than 30.

• One of those jurisdictions ranks in the top 10 U.S. counties with the most non-citizens. It reported fewer than 10 instances of non-citizen voting in 2016.

• Among the 44 counties with the largest populations of noncitizens, 13 are in California where 23 million voters participated in November 2016. Although the California Secretary of State is investigating some cases of potential fraud, there are no allegations that a noncitizen voted illegally.

Closer to home, the Asotin County (Clarkston) prosecutor has charged two men, both citizens, with voter fraud related to the 2016 election. One man signed his widow’s name on her ballot envelope. He thought power of attorney extends to voting; it does not. The other man voted in both Washington and Idaho.

Voters cast 3,363,440 ballots in Washington in 2016. Those two cases represent 0.00006% of the ballots cast.

 The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute.

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