Voter fraud is exceedingly rare—but not in the headlines or in the mind of Donald Trump. In 2012, Jane Mayer published a profile in The New Yorker of Hans von Spakovsky, a Republican lawyer who would go on to serve as a member of the Trump Administration’s voter-fraud commission. Spakovsky has created a cottage industry out of stoking fears about illegitimate voting. He has also been instrumental, Mayer observes, in insuring that narratives about widespread voter fraud have become part of Republican orthodoxy, despite the scarcity of documented cases. (One scholar notes that, in 2005, the government charged more Americans with violating migratory-bird statutes than with committing election fraud.) As the late congressman John Lewis put it, Spakovsky and other voter-fraud activists are “trying to create a cure where there is no sickness.” The supposed cure also often amounts to efforts at disenfranchising minorities.
This week, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about voter fraud and the many myths surrounding it. In “Stacey Abrams’s Fight for a Fair Vote,” Jelani Cobb profiles the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and chronicles her efforts to combat voter suppression. In “Trump and the Truth: The ‘Rigged’ Election,” Jonathan Blitzer discusses Trump’s heated campaign rhetoric in 2016 about the electoral process. (“The election is going to be rigged—I’m going to be honest,” he said. “People are going to walk in and they’re going to vote ten times, maybe.”) In “Reënacting the Trial of a Black Woman Convicted of Voter Fraud,” Vinson Cunningham explores how a new dramatic reading, “Why Would I Dare: The Trial of Crystal Mason,” echoes Langston Hughes’s “The Ballot and Me.” Finally, in “How Far Could Republicans Take Trump’s Claims of Election Fraud?,” Jeannie Suk Gersen writes about how Trump’s allegations have eroded faith in the democratic process. As we continue to watch events unfold in Washington, we hope you’ll take some time this weekend to delve into these eye-opening pieces.
— David Remnick
The man who has stoked fear about impostors at the polls.
As the 2020 elections approached, Abrams led the battle against voter suppression.
The idea of a “rigged” election doesn’t just give Trump’s ego the excuse it needs if his candidacy falls short—it also resonates with his backers.
“Why Would I Dare: The Trial of Crystal Mason,” a show about a woman accused of voter fraud, echoes Langston Hughes’s “The Ballot and Me.”
Republicans are looking to strategies that might remain even after rebuffs both at the polls and in court.