The Fraudulent Voter Fraud Schadenfreude

The inaugurations of  Donald Trump, 2017 (left) and Barrack Obama, 2009 (right).

The inaugurations of Donald Trump, 2017 (left) and Barrack Obama, 2009 (right).

Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer’s first press conference centered on “alternative facts” about the attendance at Trump’s inauguration. There is no crime in having a sparsely attended inauguration. Lyndon B. Johnson had only 27 people on hand, including himself, yet that was sufficient for him to lead our country. Indeed Trump had a decent attendance at his inauguration by historical standards. However, to claim that this inauguration was the most well attended in history is simply counter-factual. Attendance was only one-third of Obama’s first inauguration. In fact, Clinton’s first inauguration, both of Obama’s inaugurations and the Women’s March on Washington all had higher attendance than Trump’s inauguration.

However, if Trump is consistent about one thing, it is inconsistency.

In the next press conference (referred to by the White House as the “first official press conference,” suggesting that the previous one somehow didn’t count), instead of re-litigating the inauguration, the administration decided to re-litigate the election. Although Trump won the electoral vote, his inability to win the popular vote remains a sore spot for him.

Electoral Vote Popular Vote
Donald Trump 304 62,979,636
Hillary Clinton 224 65,844,610
Others 7 7,804,213

So he turned his attention to alleged voter fraud. Unable to point to any examples of fraudulent voting, however, Trump tweeted about the millions of Americans whose voter registrations are out of date.

While voters submit a form to register to vote, there is no form or even expectation that voters will “unregister” themselves when they move to a new state or when they die.

D17125_2It is not a problem to have non-voters on the registration list when a voter moves or passes away. These people are not going to show up to vote. If they did, then they (or someone impersonating them) would probably be caught and convicted of a felony since their neighbors and the elections officials would not recognize them. We have almost no recorded cases of this happening for the simple reason that stealing a single vote is not worth the risk.

If Trump now is declaring for some reason that old voter registrations that have become invalid (through death or relocation for example) are fraudulent or criminal, then before calling for a national investigation, he should get his own house in order.

  • State records show that his daughter Tiffany is registered to vote in New York City, where she lives, as well as in Philadelphia, where she studied until her graduation from the University of Pennsylvania last May.
  • Similarly, while Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, now votes at a polling place near his Park Avenue home in New York City, he is also registered as a voter at a polling place near his home in Bel Air, California.
  • In addition, Trump’s chief of staff, Steve Bannon, is registered to vote in both Florida and New York.
  • Also, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner cast votes in the New Jersey through the November 2009 state general election. He then registered in New York at his Park Avenue address and began voting in New York in 2010.
  • Finally, White House press secretary Sean Spicer is on the rolls both in Virginia and his home state of Rhode Island.

To understand why Trump, who won the election, continues to raise the completely unfounded issue of voter fraud, Christopher Bates, an author on the website Electoral Vote Predictor, has decided to “play armchair psychologist” in his article Trump Doubles Down on Voter Fraud. In this piece, Bates lists the characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as described in DSM-5. After concluding that Trump possesses every one of these traits, Bates adds:

Lying goes part and parcel with NPD; exaggerations and falsehoods of various sorts are key to maintaining the narcissist’s self-image and worldview. And over time, the lying comes more and more easily, for two reasons. The first is because it has to. As we have previously noted, lying is hard to get away with on a consistent basis, because other humans are very skilled lie detectors (it’s generally agreed that lies are correctly detected about 30% of the time). The only way to improve one’s odds is to believe one’s lies, so as to not give off the usual cues of deception. The second is because lying acts, in many ways, like a drug. Studies show that the parts of the brain that trigger a “shame” response when a lie is told become conditioned over time (in the same way that the brain can become desensitized to the effects of caffeine, or alcohol, or heroin over time). As a consequence of these two things, a narcissist’s lies generally get bigger and more frequent as time goes by. Donald Trump’s career, which was liberally populated with whoppers decades before he considered a White House run, fits this pattern nicely.

The conclusion here is that Donald Trump does not lie because he is playing some sort of master chess game. He lies because he needs to, and because he largely does not perceive the difference between “truth” and “lie” anymore. This is not uncommon among presidents; a recent study suggests that many presidents fit the pathology for psychopathy, at least in part (particularly the display of fearless dominance). Where Trump appears to be different is in the extent of his affliction. And if our suppositions are correct here, it means that the candidate who spent the last year-plus lying left, right, and center is going to be the president who spends the next four years lying left, right, and center, regardless of the response or of the consequences.

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