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Trump’s election fraud claims aimed in part at keeping his base loyal

Donald Trump (White House photo)

Voter fraud is extremely rare, and when it does happen, people are generally caught and prosecuted and it does not change the outcome of the election. Typically, it involves someone wanting to honor the wishes of a loved one who recently died and either knowingly or not commits a crime by filling out that ballot.

Trump campaign officials have also alleged that more than 21,000 had been cast in the name of the dead in Pennsylvania. The claims stem from a conservative legal group’s lawsuit against the secretary of state, accusing her of wrongly including some 21,000 supposedly dead residents on voter rolls.

The federal judge who has the case, John Jones, has said he was doubtful of the claims. He said the Public Interest Legal Foundation that brought the claims was asking the court to accept that there were dead people on voter rolls, and he asked for proof and questioned why they had waited until the “eleventh hour” to file suit.

“We cannot and will not take plaintiff’s word for it — in an election where every vote matters, we will not disenfranchise potentially eligible voters based solely upon the allegations of a private foundation,” he wrote in an Oct. 20 ruling.

But even if those 21,000 votes were to be cast aside, Biden would still lead the state by more than 20,000 votes, according to AP data.

Trump’s own administration has pushed back at the claims of widespread voter fraud and illegal voting though it didn’t mention Trump was the one making the allegations. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the federal agency that oversees U.S. election security, also noted local election offices have detection measures that “make it highly difficult to commit fraud through counterfeit ballots.”

Top election officials in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada – both Republican and Democrat – have all said they see no widespread voting irregularities, no major instances of fraud or illegal activity.

Meanwhile, on a call with supporters Saturday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien encouraged them to be ready to continue the fight for Trump, including standing by for rallies and demonstrations. Other aides outlined what they argued were irregularities in the count.

And Republicans were sticking to the idea that all “legal” votes must be counted — the language freighted with a clear implication that Democrats want illegal votes counted, a claim for which there is no evidence.

It’s a precarious balance for Trump’s allies as they try to be supportive of the president — and avoid risking further fallout — but face the reality of the vote count.

According to one Republican granted anonymity to discuss the private conversation, Republicans on Capitol Hill were giving Trump the space to consider all legal options, and allowing the process to play out.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet made any public statements — neither congratulating Biden nor joining Trump’s complaints about the results.

“I’m not sure his position would have changed from yesterday — count all the votes, adjudicate all the claims,” said Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist in Kentucky allied with McConnell. “My sense is there’s won’t be any tolerance for beyond what the law allows. There will be tolerance for what the law allows.”

It was a view being echoed by several other Republicans neither supporting or rejecting the outcome.

“Nothing that I’ve seen regarding the election raises a legal issue that could succeed. There is just is nothing there,” said Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush in the 2000 recount in Florida that ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court. “When these kind of lawsuits are filed it just breeds contempt for the whole legal system,” he said.

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Associated Press Writers Lisa Mascaro and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.

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