“Why is it that dead people always vote Democrat?” Rinke asks to start the ad.
The ad features a dash of comedy: a zombie stands beside Rinke wearing at least six “I Voted” stickers and what appears to be a shirt promoting the Biden-Harris campaign. But Rinke’s assertion about dead people always voting for Democrats should still be taken seriously.
Voter fraud is exceedingly rare in Michigan and every other state. And Rinke’s claim about dead people and Democrats is flat-out false.
Facts First: It’s just not true that votes cast in the names of dead people are always cast for Democrats. Though the number of voter fraud cases involving the ballots of deceased people is tiny, there are recent cases in which such ballots were fraudulently cast either for Republican candidates — including Trump — or by registered Republicans.
Since voters’ ballot choices are secret, the public sometimes never learns which political party an unlawful ballot was cast for; in some cases, we know the name and party registration of the person who committed the fraud but not who they actually supported in the deceased person’s name. Still, the available record makes it abundantly clear that there is no truth to Rinke’s suggestion that this kind of fraud is committed only by Democratic voters.
When CNN asked Rinke’s campaign for evidence to support that claim, spokesperson Katie Martin didn’t provide any. Rather, she said in an email that “a quick Google search will show multiple news articles on deceased voters voting in elections.”
Correct — but that same quick Google search also disproves Rinke’s claim that “dead people always vote Democrat.”
Republican fraud cases in 2020
Consider five of the proven or alleged “dead people” cases that emerged out of the 2020 general election:
There are also cases from the 2020 election in which registered Democrats have been charged with requesting ballots on behalf of dead relatives, plus cases in which the party preference of the accused person is not publicly known. So this minuscule problem isn’t exclusive to Republicans — but it certainly isn’t exclusive to Democrats, either.
The Michigan picture
And, critically, the auditor’s review did not conclude that the 1,616 votes were fraudulent.
The review noted that about 99% of the 1,616 votes, all but 20 of them, were cast by voters who died during Michigan’s 40-day absentee voting period — suggesting the votes may have been cast by people who lawfully submitted ballots and then happened to die shortly afterward but before Election Day.
In addition, the auditor’s review noted that even some of the voters recorded as having died 41 days or more before Election Day may actually be living people who were incorrectly marked as deceased because they have a common last name like Smith or a suffix like Jr.
So Rinke and others are free to urge Michigan authorities to improve their administration of the voter rolls. But there just isn’t any sign of widespread voter fraud in the state, involving dead people or anybody else.