Merrill Says Threat Of Voter Fraud Investigation Signals Voter Suppression Efforts
HARTFORD, CT—Anticipating that President Donald Trump will sign an executive order calling for an investigation into alleged voter fraud in the November 2016 election, Connecticut’s Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said there’s no evidence to suggest it happened.
Last week, Trump told congressional leaders he believes three to five million votes were cast illegally for Hillary Clinton. Merrill, who is president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, said there’s no evidence from her colleagues across the country that statement could be true.
“Normally allegations of wrongdoing are made by sore losers, not sore winners,” Merrill said Friday during a press conference in her state Capitol office. “It’s very surprising to me that the president would question the legitimacy of his own results. He won the election fair and square under the rules that we currently have.”
In Connecticut, Merrill said there were just 16 allegations of in-person voter fraud during the November 2016 election cycle, including the primary and the general election. Those allegations have yet to be investigated by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
“Unproven allegations in Connecticut account for 0.00095 percent of the vote,” Merrill said. “There is simply no evidence of widespread voter fraud.”
Merrill said being registered to vote in more than one state, like some in Trump’s own cabinet and family, is not illegal. She said it would be illegal to vote in more than one state.
She said she fears statements like Trump made last week will lead to new legislation that will make it more difficult for people to register to vote. She also worries legislation could limit state and local control over elections and that any investigation could be limited to the states in which Trump lost.
“It breeds cynicism in the voter,” Merrill said. “Attacking the legitimacy of elections without any evidence of wrongdoing potentially undermines the public’s faith in a free and fair vote.”
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro called Trump’s statement about a possible executive order to investigate election fraud “an assault on our constitutional right to vote.”
She said there is no evidence of millions of fraudulent votes.
“You are more likely to be hit by lightning or win Powerball than you are to find voter fraud,” DeLauro said.
“The president is letting urban myths and debunked studies lead his governing,” DeLauro said. “I believe it’s a witch hunt against non-existent fraud. Will it lead to a further restriction of voting for marginalized Americans? That is the danger.”
Merrill said Connecticut would cooperate with any federal investigation initiated by Trump’s administration even though it already knows the outcome. She said normally investigations occur when there’s some evidence of a problem. She said that’s not the case with the 2016 election.
She also pointed out that an investigation could be perceived as federal interference in what is essentially a state function.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said to begin an investigation based on “pure fiction, pure suspicion can itself be threatening, and harassing and intimidating.”