President Trump’s son claimed that 8% of the votes in the August primary came from the dead. The Detroit Free Press fact checked that claim. (Spoiler alert: It’s not true.)
MICHIGAN — No, the dead are not voting according to the Detroit Free Press.
President Donald Trump has picked fights with Michigan over mail-in voting before, threatening to withhold funding bound for the state if it continued to encourage voting by mail. That campaign has been rife with disinformation.
And the latest misleading information about voter fraud comes from Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who said the dead were voting in droves retweeting claims made by right-wing website Britebart.
“The media: NOTHING TO SEE HERE!!!” he wrote. “Hey, it was only about 8% of the votes cast which I imagine are amateur numbers for the democrats in places like Michigan.”
The Free Press, however, pointed out that the ballots were not cast by dead people, they were cast by over 800 Michiganders who died after sending in their ballot.
“Of the rejected ballots, 846 had to be tossed because the voters were deceased,” wrote the Free Press’ Clara Hendrickson. “These were not instances of someone completing and mailing an absentee ballot by stealing the identity of a deceased voter. Rather, as Benson’s Aug. 14 release notes, they were cast by eligible Michigan voters who died after casting their ballots but before Election Day.”
Hendrickson explained that such a situation is hardly an uncommon occurrence. In November of 2016, Michigan rejected almost 1,800 ballots for the same reason.
And, she explained, since these were rejected ballots, none of those votes counted.
On top of that, 2.5 million votes were cast in the primary, shattering records yet again. Of just the 1.6 million absentee ballots alone, the number Trump cited accounted for about 0.05%, far less than the 8% Trump claimed. Trump, the Free Press notes, seems to have confused the total number of rejected absentee ballots with the total number of votes overall, apparently thinking only 10,000 Michiganders voted.
“Rather than indicating instances of fraud, the rejected ballots show the state’s ability to detect and discount ineligible ballots,” wrote Hendrickson.
In fact, the larger concern is valid ballots going uncounted due to issues like President Trump’s efforts to slow down the Postal Service and thereby make voting by mail harder. Of the rejected ballots in August, many were the result of arriving after election day despite being postmarked on or before election day.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has supported proposals in the state legislature to address that issue, but so far the Republican-controlled legislature has not adopted such measures.
“The data demonstrates that thousands of people who cast otherwise valid votes were not able to participate in last week’s election solely because the Legislature failed to act ahead of the primary,” Benson said in a statement.
The Free Press’ reporting is part of a fact-checking collaboration with PolitiFact.