Fact Check: President Trump’s Election Claims

Over the week that has passed since Election Day, President Donald Trump has repeatedly taken to Twitter to dispute the results of the election. Many of President Trump’s claims have been challenged by election officials, prominent politicians of both parties, and media figures. Let’s review and fact check some recent contentions:

THE CLAIM:

THE FACTS: According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, poll watchers in both Michigan and Pennsylvania have minimal qualification requirements and little actual authority. In both states, there is a limit to the number of poll watchers allowed in each precinct. Poll watchers are not required to certify results, and there has been no evidence to support the claim that the poll watchers were not allowed in close proximity to the ballots that had been cast. The Trump campaign filed suit, challenging the legality of the vote count. Per PBS, Trump’s campaign admitted that its chosen observers were in fact admitted to the facility, to which Republican-appointee U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond responded, “I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?” The lack of any evidence in the matter led to the dismissal of the suit without prejudice.  There has been no credible evidence presented in any Pennsylvania suit filed on the matter that “hundreds of thousands of votes” were affected and no indication that each vote questioned by the president was a vote cast against him. Legal motions and suits filed in Michigan have also failed to provide material evidence of any significant fraudulent activity. A motion to halt certification of results in Wayne County, filed by the GOP was denied, per The Detroit News, with Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny noting election officials, “offered a more accurate and persuasive explanation of activity.” Additionally, the hearing noted that the maximum number of poll watchers for both Democrats and Republicans were admitted to the facility, with additional observers restricted only for COVID safety precautions. 

THE CLAIM:

FACT CHECK: Again, there has been no indication that poll watchers or other observers were restricted from vote-counting areas. President Trump claims that he had received 71 million legal votes, leading to his election victory. It is unclear if the president believes that over 6 million of Joe Biden’s votes (and over a million of the president’s own, as he was credited with over 72 million votes) were cast illegally, though it appears to be the basis of his “won the election” claim. Importantly, this figure represents the popular vote total and not the electoral college total. While the states are not required to certify their election results until the electoral college meets on December 14, multiple studies conducted by the likes of The Brennan Center have concluded that fraud is exceedingly rare. The New York Times has reached out to election officials in every state, with no evidence of fraud detected. Per Kendall Hodson, chief of staff at King County Elections, 31 states subscribe to the ERIC election security system, which detected a total of 17 cases of voter fraud over the 2016 and 2018 elections combined, totaling just .004 percent of over 100 million ballots cast.  Additionally, many states exercised their right to allow for expanded voting by mail in effort to safely conduct an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it does appear that many of the mail-in ballots of states that also allowed for in-person voting were in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden, this is better explained by Trump’s vocal attacks on mail-in ballots in the lead up to the election. 

THE CLAIM:

THE FACTS: The president’s claim that the FDA had conspired with Democratic lawmakers to suppress a vaccine announcement until after the election is not supported by evidence. Trump’s contentions of a Democratic bias within the FDA seem at odds with the leadership of the agency, as the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn was nominated by President Trump on Nov. 1, 2019. His nomination was confirmed by a Republican controlled Senate and he officially took the position on Dec. 17, 2019. Additionally, the announcement of the vaccine was issued by a private sector corporation, Pfizer, which indicated promising early results in trials but clearly states that it has not yet submitted the vaccine for FDA approval. Lastly, Mr. Biden has not given any indication that he would choose to delay an effective vaccine. In fact, Biden has outlined a plan that will, “Invest $25 billion in a vaccine manufacturing and distribution plan that will guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.”

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