Donald Trump launched a fresh attack on mail-in voting on Monday, making a series of false allegations to suggest the 2020 election will be tainted by fraud.
The president has been advancing untrue claims about mail-in balloting for months, fueling concerns he is laying the groundwork to contest the results of the 2020 election.
On Monday, he put forward a new theory, claiming that foreign countries would print millions of mail-in ballots and mail them to voters.
Trump made the claims after reports he was seething after a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where attendance was far below what his campaign had projected. Trump told the Politico news site last week that expanding vote-by-mail was his “biggest risk” as he seeks re-election.
Experts have said that it would be nearly impossible for a foreign country to orchestrate the kind of fraud Trump and Barr are hyping.
Many election offices have systems in place to closely track mail-in ballots and have other methods of verifying the identity of a voter such as comparing the signature on the ballot to ones on file.
“There are many checks and balances in place to ensure that nobody could just print ‘millions’ of ballots and vote them,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, who works with election officials across the country.
“We have decades of experience enforcing these security measures, including during world war II, confirming the integrity of mail voting. That’s why election officials from both parties, including most Republicans, promote mail voting and vote by mail themselves.”
Different jurisdictions are required to print ballots with different combinations of races and layouts, depending on where a voter lives. There can even be specific paper stocks required for ballots – all measures that would make it extremely difficult for a foreign power to simply print and mail out ballots.
In Wake county, North Carolina, for example, there are nearly 100 different ballots for voters this fall depending on where they live, tweeted Gerry Cohen, a member of the county board of election. All of mail-in ballots are examined at a public meeting by all five members of the county board, he added.
“It’s ridiculous. You can’t just print ballots. There is a specific process with vendors or internal to election offices. Ballot tracking is a way that you can add security,” said Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and a former election official in Denver. “If either Barr or Trump had toured an election office or had advisers that know the process, they would know this is not feasible.”
In a separate tweet on Monday, Trump pointed to the fact that Americans have voted during times of war to suggest that Covid-19 was merely being used as an excuse to “cheat”. But members of the military have long voted by mail and there is a long history of expanding access to the ballot because of war, Alexander Keyssar, a historian who has studied elections, told NBC News in April.
Trump has continued to attack voting by mail even though he and other members of his administration have frequently used it. On Monday, Business Insider reported that the vice-president, Mike Pence, and his wife, Karen, voted in the Indiana primary this month using the Indiana governor’s mansion as their address. Pence had done the same in 2018.
Indiana’s constitution says that someone does not lose their residency if they are called away from the state on federal service, said Ian Hauer, a spokesman for the Indiana secretary of state, Connie Lawson. A Pence spokesman tweeted that the governor’s mansion was still the legally correct address for the Pences to vote absentee.