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Trump asks for 'major investigation' into voter fraud he alleged happened

Students and local residents participate in early voting at Chapel of the Cross today.
Students and local residents participate in early voting at Chapel of the Cross today.

Trump tweeted he wanted to conduct a major investigation into voter fraud Jan. 25.

“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote and who are dead,” Trump tweeted.

Two days later, Trump referenced a statistic from Gregg Phillips, the founder of VoteStand, that more than 3 million votes were illegal. VoteStand is a mobile application that allows people to report voter fraud..

“Look forward to seeing final results of VoteStand. Gregg Phillips and crew say at least 3,000,000 votes were illegal,” Trump tweeted. “We must do better.”

The Associated Press found Phillips was listed on the rolls in three states, though he voted only in Alabama.

Alesha Brown, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, who works on voting rights, said historically, there have been few instances of voter fraud.

“The data just doesn’t support the idea that there is some mass amount of voter fraud in the United States,” Brown said.

She said there is no way that a few cases could have a meaningful impact on election results.

Virginia Gray, a UNC political science professor, questioned the allegations of voter fraud.

“There is just no evidence at all that 3 million people voted illegally,” she said.

Gray said she thinks an investigation would be a waste of money, particularly when there is no evidence indicating there was any kind of voter fraud.

Even if 3 million people were to have voted illegally, Gray said it makes no sense that they all would have voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with no votes going to other candidates.

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But Susan Myrick, an election policy analyst at the Civitas Institute, said voter fraud is a real issue.

“I don’t know how many voted illegally, but I believe a lot of people voted illegally,” Myrick said. “Not only in North Carolina, but all across the nation — I couldn’t put a number on it.”

She said she realizes many people do not consider voter fraud a real issue, but these conclusions cannot be verified without an investigation.

Myrick said she hopes the N.C. General Assembly reinstates the voter ID law — which was struck down in July 2016 — so future voter fraud can be prevented.

But Brown warned against voter ID laws, saying the problem lies in voter suppression, not voter fraud.

“Our democracy works best when everyone is able to participate,” she said. “These types of partisan politics really undermine our system and they shouldn’t be tolerated.”