Did Donald Trump's Whining Of A Rigged Election Inspire Actual Voter Fraud?
For weeks now Republican nominee Donald Trump has been playing with a new political strategy — claiming "widespread voter fraud" is "rigging" the election against him. Despite a lack of evidence supporting his claims, warnings that deceased individuals and illegal immigrants are casting votes have become a regular component of Trump's speeches. Political pundits have cautioned that Republican candidate's erroneous claims could have serious long-standing consequences, but did Trump's rigged election allegations actually inspire voter fraud?
A 55-year-old woman was arrested Thursday in Iowa and charged with first-degree election misconduct after she attempted to vote for Trump twice. According to the Washington Post, police records claim Terri Lynn Rote of Des Moines cast an early-voting ballot at the Polk County Election Office before casting another ballot at a satellite voting location.
Rote told Iowa Public Radio she had been moved to cast a second ballot for Trump because she feared her first vote would be changed into a vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. "The polls are rigged," Iowa Public Radio reported Rote said. In an interview with the Post, Rote said she'd made the decision to cast a second ballot for Trump in the spur of the moment while walking by the satellite voting location. "I don't know what came over me," the Post reported Rote said.
An early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, Rote reportedly caucused for the real estate mogul in Des Moines back in early February, according to The Blaze. Rote was released Friday on a $5,000 bond according to Polk County records and could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
Rote was one of three people the Polk County Auditors Office reported last week to law enforcement on suspicion of voter fraud. All three are suspected of casting two ballots. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald told the Des Moines Register it was the only time in 12 years that he could remember having to report potential voter fraud.
Despite significant evidence that instances of voter fraud are extremely rare — one study found just 31 credible cases of voter impersonation out of the 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014 — Trump has continued to ramp up allegations that voter fraud is "a big, big problem in this country" in the final run-up to Election Day. "Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day," Trump tweeted Oct. 17. "Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!" Experts, however, disagree and warn Trump's erroneous claims could erode trust in the electoral process and threaten the legitimacy of the presidency.