KEY POINTS

  • President Trump has been a vocal opponent of mail-in voting, commonly echoing far-right conservatives belief of mass voter fraud
  • Trump has previously voted by mail, along with several members of his family and administration
  • Multiple states are pushing through with expanding mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite threats of legal action by Trump

The 2020 Presidential election was already expected to be contentious  as President Trump seeks reelection. The move to expand mail-in voting to ensure voters’ safety during the coronavirus pandemic has only upped the ante. 

If Trump gets his way, mail-in voting won’t happen for many voters come November, even though he requested his own ballot from Palm Beach County, Florida, this week.

Since the pandemic hit its first peak in April, Trump has not been shy about attacking expanded mail-in voting ahead of the November elections. He commonly echoes many far-right conservatives who are critical of mail-in voting over alleged voter fraud and expanding the system would lead to more cases of fraud.

“You get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody's living room, signing ballots all over the place,” Trump previously said about alleged fraud.

However, multiple studies have disproven this idea of mass voter fraud and reinforced its validity as an alternative means to in-person voting. A 2014 study by the Washington Post found out of a billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014, the outlet only found 31 instances of actual fraud. Another study published by the Brennan Center for Justice in 2017 found the average rate of voter fraud fell between 0.00004% and 0.0009%.

Byt those numbers have not  stopped Trump from finding ways to discourage or outright block mail-in voting ahead of November. One way he has gone about trying to prevent mail-in voting is blocking funds meant to help the U.S. Postal Service. He openly admitted Thursday the alleged fraud was his motivation for blocking stimulus funding for the USPS Democrats have fought for in a new coronavirus stimulus package.

“They [the Democrats] want three and a half-billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically,” Trump told Fox News. “They want three and a half-billion dollars for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots.

“They want $25 billion for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there.”

Trump addressed it later on Thursday during a White House press briefing, saying he supported absentee ballots and doubling down on blaming Democrats.

“Another part of it is they want $3.5 billion just for the ballots themselves.  Why it’s so much, I don’t know.  But that’s what the Democrats want,” Trump said.

“Absentee ballots, by the way, are fine.  But the universal mail-ins that are just sent all over the place, where people can grab them and grab stacks of them, and sign them and do whatever you want, that’s the thing we’re against.”

The irony in all this is Trump has previously voted through mail-in ballots.

Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, requested their vote-by-mail ballots on Wednesday for the Palm Beach County elections in Florida. It’s the second time the couple have requested mail-in ballots as county residents. About 20 members of Trump’s family and administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, have voted by mail as well.

Trump undermined his own criticisms further by changing his position on mail-in voting for the state of Florida. He said unlike most other states, Florida relied on mail-in voting long enough to have the apparent system in place for it to work.

“(Florida has) been doing this over many years and they’ve made it really terrific,” Trump said during an Aug. 4 White House press briefing. “This took years to do. This doesn’t take weeks or months. In the case of Nevada, they’re going to be voting in a matter of weeks. And you can’t do that.”

Trump’s comment was in reference to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signing a bill for the state to adopt universal mail-in voting ahead of the November elections. The Trump campaign has since filed a lawsuit to block the new law, a move that has been criticized by state officials on both sides of the aisle.

Nevada Republican and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske asked a federal court on Monday to throw out the campaign’s lawsuit.

A similar lawsuit was filed in Pennsylvania by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee after Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and local election boards agreed to expand mail-in voting in June. U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, who was appointed by Trump, pushed back at the lawsuit and asked the Trump campaign to produce evidence of the alleged fraud by Friday.

“Plaintiffs shall produce such evidence in their possession, and if they have none, state as much,” Ranjan said.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told CNN he would announce plans to expand mail-in voting for the November elections on Friday. It remains to be seen if this will prompt a reaction from the Trump campaign and RNC to try and block it.

US President Donald Trump announced the agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize diplomatic ties US President Donald Trump announced the agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize diplomatic ties Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski