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Did 3 Million Illegal Aliens Vote in the 2016 Election?

Nov. 18, 2016

Status: False

Within days of the 2016 presidential election social media went viral with claims that some 3 million "illegal immigrants" had voted. As time passed and it became clear that Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote by what would eventually prove to be more than 2.6 million votes--the largest negative popular vote to electoral college win in Unites States history--this became a sore point for Trump supporters, and for Trump himself an outright narcissistic injury. As of Feb 2017 Trump was still angrily insisting that all those illegal alien voters were the only reason he lost the popular election so badly, and was demanding investigations into the matter at taxpayer expense.

When this claim first hit the news last November I was immediately suspicious. As it happens, I'd spent most of 2005 researching the impact of voting national technical & logistic means on the 2004 Washington gubernatorial election & the 2000 presidential one. The end result was a 99-page working paper (Church, 2005) prepared with the assistance of the Washington Secretary of State's office (then Republican, BTW) & the Caltech/MIT Voting Project , who among other things were kind enough to provide me with raw datasets & peer-review. One of the many things that research uncovered was that while some degree of logistic failure & ballot tabulation invalidation occur in every election (including vote fraud), there is absolutely no way in hell fraud of this magnitude would've gone unnoticed [*cough* bullshit! *cough*], so I was interested to see how these folks managed to cook up such a tale...

Not surprisingly, Google searches returned numerous hits from sites like RedState, 100PercentFedUp, Inquisitr, & InfoWars--all of which are known fake news websites (Zimdars, 2016; King, 2016; Wikipedia, 2016). One called The Gateway Pundit even managed to inflate the count to 4 million (Hoft, 2016; Fake News Checker, 2016). The only mainstream news references returned were to articles debunking it &/or their cited sources. A check of Snopes immediately verified it as Unproven (Emery, 2016), although from my own research I happen to know it's utter nonsense. The claim appears to have originated with InfoWars (Watson, 2016), who in turn based it entirely on two nearly identical tweets from one Greg Phillips... nothing else. When asked point-blank for his data & sources Phillips refused to provide either because, he said, "we won't allow the media to spin this first" (in other words, fact-check it... yeah, I'll bet he won't!). He said the data would be released "in open form to the American people" but needless to say that never happened (Emery, 2016; Graves, 2016). As of this writing it's been more than two months since Phillips first made this claim and he is still refusing to provide his data (Ryan, 2017). To date, not a single valid data point of any kind has been presented in support of this allegation.

Further checks of Wikipedia revealed that InfoWars is the website of radio host & conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who among other thing believes the Oklahoma City bombing & 9/11 attacks were U.S. government plots, that Nasa faked the moon landings to hide "secret technology," & last but not least, my personal favorite... that Hillary & Obama are literally "demons from hell" (Wikipedia, 2016b). What evidence is there for this extraordinary revelation, you ask...? He has it from "high up folks," he says, that they "smell like sulfur" & are "swarmed by flies" (Stack, 2016). I kid you not. You just can't make this stuff up... there isn't that much LSD anywhere on this earth. :D

So let's see... whom should I believe? Researchers at the Caltech/MIT Voting Project, the Washington Secretary of State's office, & my statistics textbooks... or the guy who thinks last year's Democratic POTUS candidate is a fly-covered demon from hell that smells like sulfur...? [Hmmm. This is a tough one... :D ]


Church, S. 2005. "Florida 2000 and Washington 2004, A Study of Two Elections." ScottChurchDirect Feb. 4, 2009. Available online at Accessed Jan. 30, 2016.

Emery, D. 2016. "La-Z-Girl." Snopes Oct 27, 2016. Available online at Accessed Feb. 3, 2017.

Fake News Checker. 2017. "Untrustworthy 'Fake' News Sources." Fake News Checker Available online at Accessed Feb. 6, 2017.

Graves, A. 2016. "Fact-check: Did 3 million undocumented immigrants vote in this year's election?" Politifact Nov. 18, 2016. Available online at Accessed Feb. 3, 2017.

Hoft, J. 2016. "Elections Expert: 'We Now Have 4 Million Ineligible and Dead Voters on American Voter Rolls'." TheGatewayPundit Available online at Accessed Feb. 3, 2017.

King, E. 2016. "Here's a List of Fake, Misleading, and Satirical News Sites to Beware Of." Complex Nov. 15, 2016. Available online at Accessed Jan. 26, 2017.

Ryan, J. 2017. "Trump-cited study author (still) refuses to show proof of voter fraud." CNN Jan. 27, 2017. Available online at Accessed Jan. 26, 2017.

Stack, L. 2016. "He Calls Hillary Clinton a 'Demon.' Who Is Alex Jones?" New York Times Oct. 13, 2016. Available online at Accessed Feb. 3, 2017.

Watson, P.J. 2016. "Report: Three Million Votes in Presidential Election Cast by Illegal Aliens." InfoWars Nov. 14, 2016. Available online at Accessed Jan. 27, 2017.

Wikipedia. 2016b. "List of fake news sites." Wikipedia Jan. 22, 2017. Available online at Accessed Feb. 7, 2017.

Wikipedia. 2016d. "Alex Jones." Wikipedia Jan. 17, 2017. Available online at Accessed Feb. 7, 2017.

Zimdars, M. 2016. "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical 'News' Sources." Merrimack College Available online at Accessed Feb. 7, 2017.


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