The 100th-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment is Aug. 18. It took women more than 70 years to get the right to vote, getting beat up, arrested and going to jail, but passing the baton to younger women until they finally succeeded. Now more women vote than men. To them it’s a pretty big deal. In 2016, women exceeded men’s votes by 10 million. I am sure they will break that record in 2020.
Because of our current pandemic, the safest and easiest way to vote is by mail-in or absentee ballots. No need to get in any lines. Just drop off your ballot at a polling station, post office or mailbox and be sure it is stamped with a date no later than Nov. 3. Couldn’t be easier, right?
So then, why is President Trump attacking mail-in voting? Trump votes by mail. His family votes by mail. His staff votes by mail. Republican leaders in the Senate like Mitch McConnell and John Thune have said that voting by mail is totally safe.
Recently, Trump tweeted, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump also suggested that dogs will get ballots and kids will steal ballots out of mailboxes.
There is no difference between absentee ballots and mail-in ballots. They both have barcodes – which means one person, one ballot. You still need signatures that are compared to signatures on record. And both leave a paper trail in case someone tried to vote twice or voted out of state.
Trump suggested in 2016 there were over 3 million illegal votes cast (since that is approximately the number of votes that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by even though she lost the election). There is no evidence for that. The New York Times asked all 50 states to report voter fraud in the 2016 election. The problems were minuscule, mostly mistakes by voters. No state was grappling with widespread fraud.
The last major fraud case was in 2018 by a Republican running for Congress in North Carolina. The race was invalidated and had to be run again after a worker for the Republican candidate in one county collected hundreds of absentee ballots, including blank ones, from local homes. But election officials caught it and quite easily.
A team of investigative journalists in 2012, funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Knight Foundation, found “an infinitesimal number of fraud cases in elections between 2000 and 2012 – a total of 2,068.” That equates to about one case for every 15 million eligible voters. I don’t think that will throw a national election.
Trump falsely accused the state of Michigan of going down a “voter fraud path” by mailing absentee ballots. But the secretary of state had sent out applications in accordance with the law, not ballots.
Trump also attacked the state of Nevada for “illegally” sending voters mail-in ballots, despite the fact that a federal judge said it was acceptable for the 2020 presidential primary.
Trump tweets: “Nevada has ZERO infrastructure for Mail-In Voting. It will be a corrupt disaster if not ended by the Courts. It will take months, or years, to figure out.” This is not true.
And if that wasn’t enough, Trump and his appointee to head the Postal Service, are trying to slow the mail down by refusing to give the people delivering mail overtime if they can’t deliver all the mail within their allotted time. Trump is also refusing any COVID-19 money for the USPS, hard hit by the pandemic. In 2006, led heavily by Republicans, the USPS was required to pre-pay annually for 10 years around $5 billion each year for retirees’ health benefits, highly unusual for any business. Because of this, the USPS, which doesn’t use taxpayer’s money to operate, hasn’t been able to upgrade its systems.
So why is Trump claiming there will be massive fraud? Even suggesting we delay the election to some later date? Why undercut mail-in voting and the mail, especially during a pandemic? One reason is to suppress people from voting. We’ve seen Republican states purge voter rolls and reduce polling stations creating long lines of up to five hours during the pandemic. And then there is the gerrymandering so that members of Congress can pick their electorate instead of the other way around.
Ironically, by denigrating mail-in voting his followers may agree and wind up not voting at all. Thus, he may inadvertently suppress the Republican vote.
The other reason is to sow doubt about the election. Trump can save face if he loses, and then can blame cheating and fraud on his loss. Or perhaps he wants to steal the election or refuse to step down somehow claiming mail-in ballot fraud and create a constitutional crisis pitting Americans against each other with one side refusing to accept defeat – in effect, starting a new civil war?
Whatever Trump’s reason, it is despicable.
Putin must be smiling. He has been trying to pit Americans against each other to weaken us for last two decades. With Trump in office, he can sit back and relax.