During Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Donald Trump returned to a familiar campaign theme: how everything in the entire world, and especially the 2016 presidential election, is rigged against him.
Here’s a little of how it went:
If you look—excuse me, Chris—if you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote—millions, this isn’t coming from me—this is coming from Pew Report and other places —millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.
Now Trump comes up with wild shit all the time, and it can be kind of fun—like in a way that makes you lose faith in humanity—to trace the right-wing conspiracy roots of many of his favorite talking points.
But not this one. Trump’s obsession with alleged voter fraud and dead voters is coming right from the mainstream Republican party—and has been for years.
Trump is pulling from the same playbook that Republican officials in states like Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Texas have been using to defend laws that make it harder for young people, older people, and people of color to vote.
As an example, a federal court that recently struck down North Carolina’s voter identification law found that the law wasn’t designed to stop voter fraud—because voter fraud isn’t an actual problem in the United States.
A pretty exhaustive review of the data on voter fraud from the Brennan Center for Justice found incident rates between 0.00004% and 0.0009%—and a lot of that, the report also noted, was due to administrative errors.
The real purpose of the law, the court found, was to disenfranchise black voters.
“The new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision” and “impose cures for problems that did not exist,” the court wrote. “Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation.”
Trump’s voter fraud obsession isn’t a Trump thing—it’s a Republican thing.