US President to seek 'major investigation' into voter fraud

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump has said he would seek a "major investigation" into voter fraud in the November presidential election. His decision comes despite an overwhelming consensus among state officials, election experts and politicians that voter fraud is rare in the US.

"I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and.... even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!" Mr Trump said on Twitter yesterday. He did not elaborate beyond the two Twitter posts.

State officials in charge of the Nov 8 election have said they found no evidence of widespread voter fraud and there is no history of it in US elections.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in Congress, repeated on Tuesday he had seen no evidence to support Mr Trump's claims.

Republican Trump won the Electoral College that decides the presidency and gives smaller states more clout in the outcome. However, he lost the popular vote to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by about 2.9 million.

Mr Trump has bristled at references to the popular-vote results, which, combined with allegations of Russian tampering in the election on his behalf, has led to criticism that his victory was not legitimate.

The former New York businessman has never substantiated his claim of widespread voter fraud.

His announcement on Twitter follows a White House press briefing on Tuesday in which his spokesman, Mr Sean Spicer, confirmed that Mr Trump continued to believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the election.

The President has previously cited a Pew report from 2012 that concluded more than "1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters". That report did not provide evidence that dead people voted, or that others voted in their name.

Mr Trump has also cited an Old Dominion University study which suggested 14 per cent of non-citizens said they were registered to vote. That study has been dismissed as having flawed methodology, with a sample size of under 1,000 and no link between being registered to vote and actually voting.

Mr Spicer said the President nonetheless had confidence in the election outcome.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2017, with the headline 'US President to seek 'major investigation' into voter fraud'. Print Edition | Subscribe