President-Elect Trump Makes Voter Fraud Claims Amid Push For Recount
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump refused to say that he would accept the results of the election if he lost. Well, Donald Trump won, and he's still not accepting the results. Yesterday, Trump tweeted a baseless claim that millions of people voted illegally and gave Hillary Clinton a lead in the popular vote, though the popular vote does not determine who wins the election.
This comes amid an effort to push for recounts in three key swing states that deliver Trump his victory on Election Day. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith has been following all of this. Welcome to the studio, Tamara.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Glad to be here.
CORNISH: So Trump tweeted these claims yesterday not with any evidence. So where do you think the information came from?
KEITH: One possibility is Infowars. That's a website that ran a story three week - a couple of weeks ago saying that 3 million people who weren't citizens voted. But PolitiFact has found that to be based on one report that didn't exist and tweets from someone who has not produced data to back up the claim.
Donald Trump did not link to or directly cite the Infowars story, but he has been close to its founder, Alex Jones. And after the election, Jones said Trump had called to thank him. Jones is known for pushing conspiracy theories, including that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was fake.
CORNISH: Now, Donald Trump independently put out this claim about illegal voting. Has he or his transition team come forward with any evidence to back that up?
KEITH: You know, I asked them for that very thing today during a daily - its - the daily briefing call with reporters. Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, responded by citing a 2014 study about non-citizens registering to vote. But that study has been thoroughly debunked, including by the people who produced the data that it was based on.
And he also pointed to a Pew Research report about redundant voter registrations. That shows poor record keeping, but it did not even address the idea of voter fraud. So still there is no evidence of the type of widespread fraud in 2016 that Donald Trump claimed in his tweets. And elections officials in all the states he mentioned in his tweets have also denied any evidence of widespread fraud.
CORNISH: Tamara, I want to move on to the recount efforts underway. These are in three states that Trump won. And I want to start with Wisconsin. Today, election officials announced a timetable to begin a recount. So what does that look like?
KEITH: Yeah, and this is all being spearheaded by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. By tomorrow, Stein and also Rocky De La Feunte, who's an independent candidate who also requested a recount, will have to pay the money that it would cost for that recount. It's expensive. It's going to be about a million dollars. If they do pay for it, that recount would begin on Thursday.
The state elections commission has decided that counties do not have to do a hand recount. They can just sort of rerun the ballots through the machines. Stein had wanted a hand recount, hoping that that would potentially detect any evidence of hacking. Though there is to this point no evidence of it.
Stein has said that this is all about verifying the integrity of America's election systems and machines, but she's also in the process raised more than $6 million to fund the effort. And I should say that Stein does not expect the outcome of the election to change. Neither do Hillary Clinton's lawyers.
CORNISH: Though Jill Stein is hoping for recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan as well. What's going on there?
KEITH: So Michigan certified the election results today, showing that Donald Trump won by about 10,000 votes, which is a pretty close margin. Stein can file for recount between now and Wednesday there. Pennsylvania has a more complicated system which she is also backing but requires voters to be involved.
You know, if these things go forward, the Clinton campaign has said that it will participate. That doesn't mean that it is supporting this process but simply that they would have lawyers on hand to monitor and to look out for the interests of Clinton's voters and votes that were cast for her.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Tamara Keith. Thank you.
KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.