As with many of Trumps statements, this does not seem to be true. There are dozens of journalists from different political backgrounds rejecting the claim:
- Politico: Trump’s Claims About Illegal Votes Are Nonsense. I Debunked the Study He Cites as ‘Evidence.’
- CNN: Trump falsely claims 'millions of people who voted illegally' cost him popular vote
- NPR: Here Are The Problems With The Trump Team's Voter Fraud Evidence
- Politifact: Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim that millions of illegal votes cost him popular vote victory
- Fox News: States reject Trump's claim that illegal ballots gave Clinton popular vote
- Washington Post: Donald Trump’s bogus claim that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton
- New York Times: Trump Claims, With No Evidence, That ‘Millions of People’ Voted Illegally
- Snopes: Zero evidence has been put forth to support the widely parroted claim that 3 million "illegal aliens" voted in the 2016 presidential election.
- Reuters: Trump, without evidence, says illegal voting cost him U.S. popular vote
- ABC News: Vice President-Elect Defends Trump's Unsubstantiated Claim of 'Millions' of Illegal Votes
- Huffington Post: Donald Trump Just Told One Of His Most Brazen Lies Yet
- The Daily Mail: Trump is RIGHT that illegal voting hit the presidential election, say experts - even if it wasn't in the millions, his critics have NOT proven he was wrong [The headline suggests that Trump was right, but the actual article says that there is no evidence: "[Experts] say sites which accused Trump of acting on 'zero evidence' are right"]
- Chicago Tribune: Trump's illegal voters lie is just a distraction
Here are quotes from those articles.
Trump could be referencing a series of fake stories on conspiracy websites that said he actually beat Clinton in the popular vote count. Trump's transition team did not return requests for comment Sunday afternoon.
Trump’s latest lie seems to have originated from the conservative conspiracy website Infowars, which published an article claiming that Trump actually won the popular vote because “three million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens.”
On a call with reporters on Monday, Trump’s transition team could not provide any credible evidence for his lie, citing only a debunked blog post and a Pew study that did not contain any proof of undocumented immigrants voting.
Politico, discussing a study Trump used to justify his claim:
There is no evidence that non-citizens have voted in recent U.S. elections.
The authors were essentially basing their claims on two pieces of data associated with the large survey—a question that asks people whether they are citizens and official vote records to which each respondent has been matched to determine whether he or she had voted. Both these pieces of information include some small amounts of measurement error, as is true of all survey questions. What the authors failed to consider is that measurement error was entirely responsible for their results.
Richman and his colleagues saw the very small number of people who answered that they were “immigrant non-citizens,” and extrapolated that (inaccurate) number to the U.S. population as a whole.
Officials in those states insisted Monday that Trump’s claim of millions of illegal votes, including ones allegedly cast by illegal immigrants, is unfounded.
That peer-reviewed article comes from a team of researchers that includes Stephen Ansolabehere, who developed the CCES. He and two colleagues wrote at the Monkey Cage that Richman and Earnest's findings were based on "measurement error."
He also pointed to a 2012 study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The numbers he cites are in fact correct: That study showed that 24 million voter registrations at the time were "no longer valid" or were "significantly inaccurate," and that nearly 2.8 million Americans were registered in more than one state.
That's a sign that states' voter registration databases could use some extra upkeep but it's not itself evidence of fraud, as Miller said it was.
However, the Trump campaign has yet to provide evidence that widespread fraud — involving "millions of voters" — in fact swayed the results of the presidential election, as the president-elect said it did.
The next day, the Pew study's primary author, David Becker, tweeted in response to references to his research: "As primary author of the report the Trump camp cited today, I can confirm the report made no findings re: voter fraud. We found millions of out of date registration records due to people moving or dying, but found no evidence that voter fraud resulted. Voter lists are much more accurate now than when we issued that study in 2012, thanks to the 20 states sharing data through @ericstates_info."
Trump does actually cite two studies - Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections? - and Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient.
But the first has been heavily criticized for drawing invalid conclusions by journalists as well as by a peer-reviewed study: The perils of cherry picking low frequency events in large sample surveys:
The example for this analysis is Richman et al. (2014), which presents a biased estimate of the rate at which non-citizens voted in recent elections. The results, we show, are completely accounted for by very low frequency measurement error; further, the likely percent of non-citizen voters in recent US elections is 0.
According to the author of the second study that Trump cites, it doesn't say that millions voted illegally.