Exhaustive fact check finds little evidence of voter fraud, but 2020’s ‘Big Lie’ lives on

More than a year after President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump and his allies still insist without evidence that widespread voter fraud led to a stolen election. A new reporting project from the Associated Press shows that is false, finding fewer than 475 potential instances out of more than 25 million votes cast. Judy Woodruff speaks to reporter Christina Cassidy.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    More than a year after President Biden won the presidential election, former President Trump and his allies insist, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud led to a stolen election.

    A new, exhaustive piece of reporting from the Associated Press shows that simply is not true. AP Reporters went looking for cases of voter fraud in six states that Trump has challenged, and they found fewer than 475 potential instances out of more than 25 million votes cast, a number that would not have come close to changing the outcome.

    I spoke yesterday to Christina Cassidy. She's one of the reporters for the AP.

    Christina Cassidy, thank you so much for joining us.

    This was a deep and wide-ranging effort that you and your colleagues made. What, there were you and 10 other reporters. You talked to, what, 340 election officials across these states.

    What were you trying to find out?

  • Christina Cassidy, Associated Press:

    Heading into the November 3 election, we were certainly aware about various statements being made about voter fraud.

    We were also aware that academic studies had shown that it was exceptionally rare. But once November 3 happened and we saw everything that happened since, we decided at the AP that we wanted to go to the source. We wanted to look for the voter fraud, and we wanted to identify what voter fraud had occurred, what potential voter fraud had occurred in the November 3 election.

    And so we embarked on this reporting effort that involved reporters in six states, the six states that were disputed by President Trump and his allies. And we went to the local election officials. And we asked them to identify for us any potential instances of voter fraud that they had flagged during their post-election certification and canvassing work.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what did you find?

  • Christina Cassidy:

    Well, in the end, we found it was just shy of 475 potential cases of voter fraud in those six states, which would not have made a difference in the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And this was out of millions of votes cast, if you add up all the votes in those states.

    Christina, tell us — just give us a couple of examples of the fraud that you did find, those individual cases.

  • Christina Cassidy:

    Sure.

    I mean, they ran the gamut. You had individuals like a gentleman from Wisconsin who was a felon, and he did not understand or did not know, he said, that he — he thought he was eligible to vote. And so he voted. And it turns out Wisconsin is not one of those states that have loosened laws for felon voting. So, there was that instance.

    We had a woman in Maricopa County who has been charged. Authorities say that she submitted a ballot on behalf of her mother, who had died about a month before the election. And there were other instances of people who had submitted mail ballots. Either they had mailed them or dropped them off and those ballots showed up after they had voted in person, whether in early voting or on Election Day.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we know that former President Trump, the people who support him, continue to push this notion of massive voter fraud, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    And you spoke to the former president. What did he say?

  • Christina Cassidy:

    Well, the president definitely spoke about his concerns about the pandemic-related changes, and how there were — that there was such an increase in mail ballots, and his belief that those are less secure.

    But speaking with election officials, they stand by their protocols and their procedures in place. And there are numerous procedures, protocols in place, guardrails to ensure that every ballot is accounted for. Mail ballots that are sent out, they are logged. Every mail ballot that is returned is logged.

    They go through various security checks in a number of states. They do — they conduct signature verification. So, when those ballots come in, they're looking at the signatures. And every time a voter has had contact with their election office, whether it's signing a petition, requesting a ballot application, submitting a ballot, those signatures are on file, and they're kept on file.

    And so, when those ballots come in, they're reviewed. They look at those signatures, and if there's a discrepancy, they flag it. They contact the voters. They say, hey, there is an issue here. You need to come in and prove that this is your ballot. And if that person doesn't come in, that ballot is discarded and is not counted.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, let me just ask you, is there any possibility, based on what you found, that this election could have been counted erroneously, that the results could have turned out differently than they did?

  • Christina Cassidy:

    Not based on voter fraud, no.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right.

    Christina Cassidy, an exhaustive piece of reporting from the Associated Press.

    Thank you very much.

  • Christina Cassidy:

    Thank you.

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