Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth said he’s worried about violence at polling places after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claims that the election is rigged in favor of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I certainly worry about it far more than I would’ve been before he started this nonsensical talk,” Yarmuth said. “He’s just infuriating the same kind of xenophobia and fear-based appeals that have gotten him where he is. I’m very worried there could be violence after this, I’m worried about violence at the polls.”
Trump claims that voter fraud is rampant across the country and that ballots are cast by undocumented immigrants and people using the identifications of dead voters. He also says that the media is unfairly biased in favor of Clinton’s candidacy.
A study conducted by a professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles showed that of about 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014, only 31 cases of voter fraud were reported.
But the American public thinks that voter fraud occurs more frequently — according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 46 percent of Americans believe that voter fraud occurs very or somewhat often.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief election official, denounced Trump’s claims that the election would be rigged.
“Claims that our elections are rigged are fanatical scare tactics and bear no resemblance to the truth,” Grimes said in a statement. “Such claims discount the good, bipartisan work of 120 county clerks and 15,000 precinct election officials throughout 3,700 precincts do to ensure everyone has a chance to exercise their right to vote and to make certain that our elections are fair and accurate.”
Jim Stansbury, chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party, defended Trump’s views of a rigged election in a recent WFPL interview, but said it had less to do with a fraudulent voting process and more to do with media bias, especially the debates.
“It’s not fair for (Trump) to have to debate not only Hillary, but also the moderators. Why should he have to debate them, as well,” Stansbury said. “That, to me, feels a bit like rigging.”
Vote buying has a long tradition in Kentucky, especially the eastern part of the state, with recent convictions of three people in Magoffin County who conspired to buy votes for candidates running for local offices.
Tres Watson, spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky, tamped down Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, but still said Eastern Kentucky needed to be watched.
“Our American system of democracy depends on fair and open elections and we have no reason to believe this year’s vote will be any different,” Watson said. “That said, due to recent convictions and allegations of vote buying in Eastern Kentucky, we hope the Secretary and law enforcement officials will take the appropriate steps to ensure this is the case. The battle for Kentucky’s future is too important to let the results be tainted by more vote buying.”
Election Day is Nov. 8. Many contested races are on the ballot including president, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, state House of Representatives, state Senate and one state Supreme Court seat representing the central Kentucky region.