According to president elect Donald Trump, millions of people voted illegally:

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

I suppose referring to illegal immigrants, undocumented, voting. Is this true?

  • 6
    Depending on your definition of illegal immigrant... Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 19:56
  • 6
    It's a little unclear whether you're asking about the truth of Trump's statement ("people voted illegally") or of your interpretation ("illegal immigrants voting"). There are plenty of allegations of illegal voting (multiple voting, paying people to vote, dead people voting) that have nothing to do with illegal immigrants. The answer may be the same, but the evidence set is different.
    – LarsH
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 20:55

2 Answers 2


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.

Huffington Post:

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.

Fox News:

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.

ABC News:

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.

  • 42
    Even though I agree with this answer, something about it seems inherently shallow. Sharing a bunch of headlines from sites that all say the same thing in different ways doesn't seem like a good basis for an answer.
    – LCIII
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 13:15
  • 22
    The link-list at the top is to show the overwhelming disagreement with the claim across the political spectrum, which is a good indication that the claim is false. The quotes go into the specifics (likely origin of the claim, rejection of the claim by state officials, refutation of the two sources named by Trump to support his claim). Would the conclusion section have been enough to disprove the claim? Yes. But the news articles are more accessible and my hope is that the overwhelming disagreement with the claim will convince those who still doubt the facts.
    – tim
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 14:02
  • 7
    "The link-list at the top is to show the overwhelming disagreement with the claim across the political spectrum, which is a good indication that the claim is false." No, it's a good indication that the author is using the Appeal To Authority and Argumentum ad populum. The number of people disputing the claim has no bearing to whether or nor the claim is true.
    – NPSF3000
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 19:38
  • 2
    Not agreeing or disagreeing, but I distrust at least 12 of those media sources, if not all of them.
    – Willy Goat
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 20:58
  • 4
    @NPSF3000 I have no idea what you are trying to say about dictatorships, but the point is you are misrepresenting the significance of consensus of the journalists. It's not their popular belief that is significant, it's that across the board journalists are staking their reputation on their conclusion that there is no evidence available to them to support this claim (a claim that would be easily smashed if evidence to the contrary were available).
    – Batman
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 0:19

No. Those claims were never supported by any evidence. If there was any evidence of millions of "illegal votes", presumably, against Trump, his campaign would have surely requested a recount and/or filed a lawsuit to challenge the results in those states.

Election officials in the 3 states mentioned by Trump, New Hampshire, Virginia, and California have rebutted his assertions of wide spread voter fraud:

“We have heard claims like this in the past, relative to our elections, but we have been provided no evidence that suggests that there is voter fraud on a widespread scale in New Hampshire,” David Scanlan, New Hampshire’s deputy secretary of state, told POLITICO in a phone interview Monday.

“The claims of voter fraud in Virginia during the Nov. 8 election are unfounded,” Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés said in a statement to POLITICO. “The election was fair and all votes cast by eligible voters were accurately counted.”

“It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him,” he (Secretary of State Alex Padilla) said Sunday, according to the LA Times. “His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a president-elect.” Source

I think it's a well established practice for the accuser to prove the accused guilty, not for the accused to prove innocent. Since no proof has been presented, the premise should be rejected.

  • 7
    While I agree there's no evidence, I don't know why you say the campaign would have requested a recount. They won - they have zero interest in recounting those votes. All it would do is distract attention away from their transition. No one wants to set the record straight badly enough to burn the political capital on a recount. Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 21:07
  • 7
    @ChrisHayes Winning the popular vote would give his administration extra credibility and it won't cost him any political capital. He would have the moral high ground - ensuring free and fair election, etc, etc. Not to mention how devastating a scandal like that would be to the Democratic party...
    – ventsyv
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 15:00
  • 1
    comments seem to be getting deleted... anyway, your statement "his campaign would have surely requested a recount and/or filed a lawsuit to challenge the results" is pure supposition, you cite no sources and your argument fails to show any advantages to challenge results before inauguration, which your use of past tense "would have requested" requires.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 17:18

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .