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Elections officials, voting advocates react to the president's claim of fraud

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Voting is stitched into the fabric of our democracy.

"There's nothing more important in this country than the right to vote,” said Rosalind Blanco Cook, president of the League of Women Voters in New Orleans.

President Donald Trump claims the process was compromised and millions voted illegally. He has promised a major investigation.

"I don't want to start throwing out numbers, but there's a lot of people that are dead that are on the rolls. There are people who voted that are on the rolls in two different states,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Trump has not named the states, but the claims he has made are resonating with people in Louisiana. Voting advocates are concerned that voter trust could be undermined by the unproven claims.

"The League of Women Voters certainly has a concern that all of this talk of investigations and questioning the integrity of the elections system will undermine, in some people's eyes, the whole election system,” said Cook.

"These comments from now-President Trump could take away the confidence in our electoral system, which could have widespread ramifications in future elections, particularly close future elections,” said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler issued the following statement:

“I take any and all allegations of fraud very seriously, but I can only speak on behalf of the election system here in Louisiana since it is the one I control. Louisiana did not have any widespread irregularities or allegations of fraud during the 2016 Presidential Election Cycle.

"In our state, you must be a citizen of the United States in order to register to vote. In fact, when you register you are in effect signing a legal affidavit and creating an official public record stating that you meet all of the necessary requirements. Creating a false public record is a serious crime that is punishable by law. In addition, Louisiana has a trusted, election-day photo I.D. law in our state that provides an additional level of security.

"Our registrar of voters statewide are also required by law to review, monitor and update our voter registration lists for accuracy. One tool they use is a robust program called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) which allows states to share data allowing us to clean our registration records by removing individuals who are identified as no longer living in our state or who have died. ERIC includes data from more than 21 states as well as the national change of address program giving us confidence that only those eligible to vote in Louisiana are in fact, voting.

"In other words, Louisiana has many layers of legal protection to shield us from voter fraud.

"It is for the above reasons, and because we received no complaints or allegations of illegal citizens registering or voting on Election Day that I was able to, in good conscious, certify Louisiana's election results.

"Do I believe there could be precincts in this country in which there are voters on the rolls who have moved out of state or have died? Yes, I do. And if a presidential investigation can produce evidence concerning this scenario or any other fraudulent activity it should be shared with the states so that it can be cleaned-up and put to rest.

"I can assure you that conducting free and fair elections will always be my top priority and if I feel that our laws are being broken by anyone, I will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

"To me it would seem like the issues may be in those states where the tally was much closer, but again we welcome anyone who looks at our records. They're public records,” said Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters Dennis DiMarco.

DiMarco also pointed to layers of protection against voter fraud.

"The system of a statewide database which means you can't register in Jefferson and then go to Orleans and register, the fact that we require in most cases a photo ID to vote,” he said.

People registering to vote also sign affidavits attesting to where they reside and where they were born, according to the registrar.

“I would warn against losing confidence and too, one thing I find if your candidate wins you think it’s the greatest system in the world, if your candidate loses there’s something wrong with it,” said DiMarco.

"The overwhelming majority of elected officials and validators, people who Americans trust say they can find no evidence of what President Trump is suggesting, but despite that polls are showing us that there's a group of Trump loyalists who absolutely believe there's truth to what he's saying,” said Sherman.

And DiMarco is very confident that dead people are not voting in his parish.

"Quarterly we receive information from the Department of Health and Human Services of anyone who’s died, we go through our records and if we have indication that you passed away we flag that,” said DiMarco.

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