Ever since he started to dip in the polls, Donald Trump has been prattling on about the danger that the election, like everything else that doesn't go his way, is "rigged." Unlike other areas where he's clashed with the Republican establishment, Trump ripped this talking point straight from the GOP's playbook. Republicans go on about voter fraud because they need an excuse to push policies like strict voter ID laws, with the aim of suppressing the vote among Democratic-leaning constituencies.
Thing is, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. The Brennan Center for Justice found that the rate of vote fraud incidents sits between 0.00004% and 0.0009%; an academic who specializes in voting found 31 credible allegations of voter fraud in the whole country from 2000 to 2014.
That something is exceedingly rare, however, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Just take Terri Rote. On Thursday afternoon, Rote was booked into the jail in Iowa for voting twice. Here's her picture:
Notice anything about this photo? Maybe the Trump sign she's hoisting above her head?
Rote, who caucused for Trump way back in February, was convinced—no doubt thanks to Donald Trump and GOP—that the election was rigged for Hillary Clinton. So when she went to vote last week (early voting starting in Polk County, IA, on Sept. 29), she had a pang of fear: What if her ballot was surreptitiously switched into a vote for—gasp!—Hillary Clinton? Rote's response was a simple one: she'd better vote twice.
"I wasn't planning on doing it twice, it was spur of the moment," Rote told Iowa Public Radio. "The polls are rigged."
But Rote was found out because—surprise!—county officials monitor voting. "I think it shows that our voting system works in Iowa, that we're able to catch it," said Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald, who added that this was the first voter fraud he'd reported in a dozen years. Rote, for her part, was charged with voter misconduct, a felony, and released on a $5,000 bond Friday.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but Donald Trump has whipped his supporters into such paranoia over voter fraud that they're willing to commit voter fraud to make sure he gets elected. Democracy in 2016, everyone!
Ali Gharib is a journalist based in Brooklyn. Sometimes he writes about bars and broke down cars.