U.S. President Donald Trump clung to false notions Sunday that Joe Biden stole the presidential election, citing thousands of votes magically switched to the president-elect and poll watchers illegally barred on Election Day, neither of which happened.
Even after his administration agreed to allow the formal transition of power to Biden to begin, Trump insisted anew in his first live interview since losing the Nov. 3 election that he was a victim of widespread voter fraud. He failed to cite specific evidence when repeatedly asked to do so.
“We won the race,” Trump told Fox News Channel. “This was corruption. Because we got far more votes than him.”
None of those statements are true.
TRUMP: “We won.”
THE FACTS: No, Biden won the election.
Biden earned 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the same margin that Trump had when he beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, which he repeatedly described as a “landslide.” (Trump ended up with 304 electoral votes because two electors defected.) Biden achieved victory by prevailing in key states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia.
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Trump’s allegations of massive voting fraud have been refuted by a variety of judges, state election officials and an arm of his own administration’s Homeland Security Department. Many of his campaign’s lawsuits across the country have been thrown out of court.
No case has established irregularities of a scale that would change the outcome. Lawsuits that remain do not contain evidence that would flip the result.
TRUMP, on Dominion Voting Systems electoral software used in many states: “It all goes to Dominion ... we had glitches where they moved thousands of votes from my account to Biden’s account. ... They’re not glitches, they’re theft, they’re fraud — absolute fraud.”
THE FACTS: That’s not the case.
In fact, a coalition of state election officials and the Trump administration’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency declared the election was the most secure in history, with “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.”
Trump has previously cited a report aired on the conservative television network One America News Network, which promoted a theory posted to a pro-Trump blog that claimed that millions of votes were switched or deleted in Biden’s favor.
The anonymous commenter who posted the theory claimed the findings are supported by data from the polling firm Edison Research. Yet the company has not produced such a report, said Larry Rosin, the president of Edison Research.
“We have no evidence of any voter fraud,” Rosin said in an email.
TRUMP: “Joe Biden did not get 80 million votes. ... I got 63 million votes four years ago and won quite handily in the Electoral College. ...We were hoping to get 68 (million) or so and we felt that was a path to an easy victory. I got 74 million votes.”
TRUMP: “There’s no way Joe Biden got 80 million votes. ... There’s no way Joe Biden beat Barack Obama in the Black communities of various cities.”
THE FACTS: It’s not unrealistic at all that Biden won 80 million votes in an election where turnout exceeded the mark set by the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama. Voter participation in the Nov. 3 election, in fact, was the highest in more than a century.
As of Sunday, the tallied votes accounted for over 66% of the eligible voting-age population in the U.S, according to the United States Elections Project, the highest since 1900, before all women were allowed to vote.
The sheer number of votes also set records, although that’s a less remarkable milestone given the country’s growing population. Biden won more than 80 million — the highest number for a presidential candidate in history, with votes still being counted. Trump received more than 73.9 million — the highest total for a losing candidate.
Biden’s total surpasses the 2008 record of 69.5 million votes cast for Obama. Biden was also on that ticket as Obama’s running mate.
Election experts and partisans point to various factors accounting for the rise in civic participation. Some noted that higher turnout was expected after many states expanded the time and the ways voters could cast ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, while others cited the extraordinarily high passions Trump provoked — both for and against — in an election that amounted to a referendum on his leadership.
TRUMP: “You take a look at just about every state we’re talking about, every swing state we’re talking about. They did these massive dumps of votes and all of a sudden I went from winning by a lot to losing by a little.”
TRUMP, on election night: “At 10 o’clock, everyone thought it was over. Then the phony mail-ins started coming.”
THE FACTS: That’s inaccurate. Trump is actually describing a legitimate vote counting process, not a sudden surge of malfeasance that no one has seen before.
Indeed, news organizations and officials had warned in the days leading up to the election that the results would likely come in just as they did: In-person votes, which tend to be counted more quickly, would likely favor the president, who had spent months warning his supporters to avoid mail-in voting and to vote in person either early or on Election Day.
And mail-in-ballots, which take longer to count since they must be removed from envelopes and verified before they are counted, would favor Biden. That pattern was exacerbated by the fact that many states prohibited the counting of mail-in votes that arrived before Election Day.
In addition, big cities are often slower to report their numbers, and those votes tend to skew Democratic. Likewise, many states tend to count mail-in ballots at the end of the process.
TRUMP, alleging fraud in Pennsylvania: “They weren’t allowed to have poll watchers.”
THE FACTS: That’s false.
Trump is wholly misrepresenting a court case in the state and what happened at voting places. No one tried to ban poll watchers representing each side in the election. Democrats did not try to stop Republican representatives from being able to observe the process.
The main issue in the case was how close observers representing the parties could get to election workers who were processing mail-in ballots in Philadelphia. Trump’s representatives sued to allow the observers to get closer than the guidelines had allowed. A court ruled in favor of that request.
The counting in Philadelphia was being livestreamed and Trump’s lawyers admitted in court that their campaign had observers in the room — “a nonzero” number of them, as they put it.
Republicans have lost a flurry of legal challenges brought by the Trump campaign and its GOP allies filed in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania.
Poll watchers have no role in counting votes.