Debunking Sean Spicer’s Lie That “14% of 2008 Voters Were Non-Citizens”
At yesterday’s press briefing, Sean Spicer made an outrageously false claim about voter fraud in 2008. My tweet calling out this lie has now garnered more than 2,500 retweets:
I was going to write a post about this and dig up the “Pew study” Sean Spicer referred to, but I see today that Politico beat me to it. And it turns out it wasn’t a Pew Research study, it didn’t come out in 2008 as he claimed, and it was completely debunked years ago: Spicer makes misleading voter fraud claim to defend Trump’s false voter fraud claim.
The study was published in January, 2014 in the journal Electoral Studies and received renewed attention in October when the authors wrote up their findings in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog. Using data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, which interviews tens of thousands of people every election year about their views on the election, the authors estimated that 14 percent of noncitizens had voted in recent elections. Trump has repeated this claim before.
The problem is the underlying study is wrong. Brian Schaffner, a political science professor and one of the coordinators of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, explained in POLITICO in November that the authors of the study were misusing the dataset. Specifically, they weren’t accounting for measurement error (small errors in the data that result when respondents make mistakes because they didn’t understand the question or accidentally selected the wrong answer) in their results. Once they did so, their findings disappeared. “In fact, once my colleagues and I accounted for that error,” Schaffner wrote, “we found that there were essentially zero non-citizens who voted in recent elections.”
Other studies have found that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, despite the president’s continued claims otherwise. As Schaffner concludes, “Simply put, the claims Trump is making are false through and through.”
I’ve never seen a presidential administration that lies so brazenly and continuously, even about things that are easily checked and debunked. They do this because they’re getting away with it; Trump’s Fox News-indoctrinated supporters simply don’t care about logic, facts, truth, or honesty.