In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo this morning, VoteStand founder Gregg Phillips asserted that he knows for a fact that 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, insisting that he just needs a little more time to prove it. Cuomo pointed out the flawed logic in this statement saying, “If I know the answer to something it’s because I concluded my process of analysis, not because I’m in the middle of it.”
The apparent baselessness of Phillips’ assertions did not weaken President Trump’s belief in claims of widespread voter fraud. Less than an hour after the segment aired, the president tweeted his support for Phillips.
President Trump is pushing ahead with an effort to investigate voter fraud in the US — predominantly in states that he lost in the 2016 election. Despite absolutely no evidence that there has ever been widespread voter fraud in the United States, Trump has repeatedly insisted that millions of people voted against him illegally.
VoteStand, as many of the replies to this tweet point out, is an app via which users can share reports of things that seem like voter fraud to them with very little evidence. Common complaints as shared by the app’s official Twitter feed include machine malfunctions, poll workers who don’t ask for an ID, and excess absentee ballots spotted on doorsteps. As of this writing, there are no reports available for view in the iOS app and it doesn’t seem to load at all on Android.
According to the Google Play Store, VoteStand has between 1,000 and 5,000 downloads on Android. The App Store does not publish download estimates for iOS, but if they’re comparable to Android downloads then everyone who installed this app must have witnessed several thousand instances of voter fraud for VoteStand to have single-handedly identified 3 million illegal votes.
This type of anecdotal, contextless reporting is as useless in proving voter fraud as the confusing anecdote that Trump told House and Senate leaders on Monday, describing how golfer Bernhard Langer (who is a German citizen and was not eligible to vote) was turned away from the polls in Florida while people “who did not look like as if they should be allowed to vote” were not. The New York Times reports that Trump then “threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from.” Langer later challenged Trump’s claim of voter fraud, clarifying that this story was about a friend, not about himself, and he did not tell it to Trump directly, but that it had somehow trickled down to Trump through acquaintances.
anecdotal reporting devoid of context
VoteStand was created by Texas resident Gregg Phillips, a former member of the Health and Human Services Commission and the founder of AutoGov, a company that purports to use data analytics to predict Medicaid eligibility. He has also tweeted support of conspiracy theories about Israeli citizens pretending to be Russian while hacking the DNC and the Department of Homeland Security hacking elections at the behest of President Obama. On November 11th, Phillips announced that 3 million illegal ballots had been cast in the 2016 election, directly causing Trump’s massive popular vote loss. This statement was made before any states had submitted certified vote counts and Phillip has yet to publish any data that proves his claim. Trump echoed this claim on November 27th on Twitter, writing “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
Today, Phillips tweeted that Tea Party organizer Catherine Engelbrecht and True the Vote (which hosts VoteStand downloads on its website) will “lead the analysis and reporting effort from here.” True the Vote is a Tea Party organization that supports discriminatory voter ID laws and has been accused of voter intimidation — during the 2012 election the group requested that “observers” be placed at voting locations in Columbus-area districts with a majority of black voters and challenged the voting rights of nearly 500 students. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings has been trying to advance an investigation into the organization since 2012.
The Verge has reached out to VoteStand for comment on why the app doesn’t appear to be functioning and what kind of data they intend to publish, and will update if we hear back.