On 14 November 2016 — not even a week after the results of the 2016 presidential election were announced — our inbox exploded with messages requesting that we investigate the claim that more than three million votes were cast by "illegal immigrants" or "illegal aliens" (non-citizens). In some cases it was also claimed that these three million voters are "under investigation" for fraud, or that three million votes for Hillary Clinton will be "voided" because they were illegal. Under federal law, non-citizens cannot vote in a presidential election.
The first thing we found was that while no such claim has been reported in the mainstream media, it has been repeated on scores of partisan, right-leaning web sites since the 8 November election under the guise of "news." Here are a few examples:
The reporting in this excerpt from InfoWars.com is typical:
Three million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens, according to Greg Phillips of the VoteFraud.org organization.
If true, this would mean that Donald Trump still won the contest despite widespread vote fraud and almost certainly won the popular vote.
“We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens,” tweeted Phillips after reporting that the group had completed an analysis of a database of 180 million voter registrations.
We scoured at least a dozen such articles for evidence to support the claim, but found none. All of them pointed back to the same source: a pair of tweets by someone named Gregg Phillips, whose Twitter profile identifies him as the founder of VoteStand ("America's first online fraud reporting app"):
Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations. Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million. Consulting legal team. — Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 11, 2016
Phillips offers no evidence whatsoever to back up the claim that he "verified" more than three million non-citizen votes. Nor does he divulge his data sources or methodology, much less explain how it was possible to "verify" three million fraudulent votes within five days of a national election. In point of fact, Phillips bluntly refuses to share this information with journalists, claiming it will be released "in open form to the American people":
Phillips, who also founded the technology consulting firm Autogov and served as managing director of Newt Gingrich's Winning Our Future super PAC during the 2012 presidential campaign, is no stranger to voter fraud controversies. He was quoted in a 30 October 2013 Breitbart article (which described Phillips as a "voter integrity activist") characterizing Obamacare as "the biggest voter registration fraud scheme in the history of the world." Per the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), Obamacare health insurance exchange web sites provide voter registration services to customers. While some observers have complained that the exchanges are inadequate to the task of signing up new voters and have actually failed to register millions of eligible people, according to a 2014 MSNBC report, others, Gregg Phillips among them, argue the opposite — that Obamacare has opened the floodgates for millions to register illegally:
Some say registering voters through the law opens the door to non-citizen voting—though in reality, the safeguards are no different than they are for those registering to vote through other methods.
“This entire scheme is an outrage beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before,” Gregg Phillips, a conservative activist who supports voting restrictions, told msnbc. “The very idea that they would have used a stalking horse like healthcare to register, in their own words 68 million Americans to vote – or 68 million new voters, not necessarily Americans – is a problem.”
“The only way to do that is to pick up all the illegals,” Phillips added.
Based on these past statements, it seems likely that Phillips' case that three million non-citizens voted in the past election is related to his claim that "illegals" are registering to vote via Obamacare. In the absence of supporting data, however, he has really made no case at all. The "three million non-citizens" figure may just as well have been plucked out of thin air.