President Donald Trump believes his Democratic rival won the popular vote because of an electoral fraud in which three to five million voted illegally. There is no evidence that would make him think that way apart from his wounded ego, but according to the White House his beliefs should suffice so that everyone accepts and stays quiet about this falsehood.
Since it is impossible to repeat such narrative over and over without doing anything about it, Trump called for “a major investigation” about electoral fraud on Twitter.
It’s difficult to know what this will entail. For the Department of Justice to take any action there needs to be a serious complaint from a candidate, and it is difficult that Trump would take that role because his lawyers already claimed that the election was clean. Meanwhile, members of Congress have their hands full with other, more important issues than investigating something that does not exist.
We should not forget either that electoral laws and vigilance at the ballots is a matter left to the states. That’s why a fraud of the magnitude he mentions is unimaginable, much less when 30 of 50 state governors are Republican.
However, Trump’s obsession with this issue is a source of concern.
The electoral fraud argument has been used for a long time by Republican governors and legislatures to enact laws discouraging Democratic-leaning minorities from voting. The cleansing of voter registration rolls is a necessary measure to leave out the dead, but in places like Florida living people were also scrubbed.
As if that was not enough, a Supreme Court decision gutted an important section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prevented restrictive electoral laws. That led to the approval in 20 states of measures limiting ballot access for African-American and Latino voters. The courts blocked some of those measures deeming them unconstitutional, but the battle goes on.
Neither the electoral fraud nor the millions of undocumented voters touted by Trump exist. What we need is to modernize the electoral system to guarantee ballot access instead of limiting it. We cannot allow the president to use this invention as an excuse to harass states that did not vote for him, like California and New York.
The President is enough of a grown man to accept that you don’t always win.