According to leading purveyors of "alternative facts" there were about three million persons "illegally" registered to vote in 2016. One rather insecure candidate has claimed that all the “illegal” votes were cast for HIS opponent; a shocking claim, and one that bears investigation. We may find that fraud is not the right problem to investigage.
The current estimate of the voting age population is 231 million of the total population of about 322 million, or 71.7 percent. Write that down. In fact only 130 million (56%) of the eligible voters actually voted. That is 56% of 71.7%. Write that down.
About 2.4 million persons died in the USA during 2016, which deaths are not automatically cross-tabulated with voter registrations in any state as far as we know*. Most deaths are among elderly people, and death is rare among persons under 21, so we can fairly safely estimate that about two million eligible voters died.
Consider also that in 2015 some 51 million persons moved from one state to another. Applying the same ratio of voters:population, the number of voters moving would be about 71.7% of 51 million, or 26.3 million*.
The combined total of “lost voters” is thus 2.4 + 26.3 million, or 28.7 million. An unknown number of the 26.3 million re-registered in another state, but there is no simple way to correlate those registrations. These numbers will repeat in each national election, roughly proportionally to the changing size of the population. For argument’s sake we will assume that half re-register in time to vote in the ensuing election, reducing the “lost” voters to about 15.5 million.
If three million persons actually voted improperly of the 130 million voting that would be 2.3% of all persons voting. Precinct sizes vary from state to state from about 1,100 (KS) to about 2,700 (DC). That means that on average from 25 to 62 persons slipped through in each precinct despite the presence of poll watchers from both parties and sworn officials checking lists, and those numbers must be increased by removing from the tallies all persons voting absentee or otherwise by mail, which votes are much harder to fake, at least here in Washington State. Frankly, we think we could take those claims and happily wash our hog with them. So... three million? Don't write that down.
Even if we accept the fraud estimates, the current state by state registration system hypothetically allows three million to vote who shouldn’t while actually disenfranchising over 15 million who should and failing to involve 100 million who abstain. We also see a large, national political party hell-bent to apply a full court press to increase the actual 15 million while wringing its hands over the hypothetical three million and ignoring the disengaged 100 million.
Only you can decide which distresses you more as a resident of a democracy. Would you direct your efforts toward punishing the guilty (or merely careless) or toward engaging the uninvolved?
(* Please, prove us wrong about cross-tabbing; perhaps some states actually do it, though it's unlikely that any state includes deaths in a different state, making any cross-tabulation suspect; kindly cite your sources. Also, the mortality and mobility numbers vary only slightly by year, so that really is insignificant, but pick such nit as you wish. We understand this article is a long slog, but these are the weeds through which you must hack your way if any improvement in recent dismal US voting patterns is to be achieved.)