As President Donald Trump continues to falsely claim that voting by mail is rife with fraud and doing so in this year’s presidential race will be an untrustworthy endeavor, the Arizona Republican Party is sending mailers to state residents urging them to request absentee ballots — and they are doing it with a mailer featuring a picture of Trump.
The mailer encourages recipients to “Join President Trump & vote by absentee ballot” and highlights a quote from Trump last month where he said he would be voting by mail in his home state of Florida’s elections.
“I will be an absentee voter,” the quote from Trump reads. “We have a lot of absentee voters. It works, so we are in favor of absentee.”
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While Trump and his enablers rail against vote by mail, they are encouraging their own supporters to do just that.
Their hypocrisy knows no bounds. pic.twitter.com/8I7g5vVapI
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) August 16, 2020
Trump has not expressed the same sort of confidence about voting by mail in other comments he’s made in recent months.
Since mid-spring, after mail-in voting became popularized as a means to take part in elections without spreading or contracting coronavirus, Trump has tried to suggest that doing so would invite fraud to the process, a claim that has been contradicted by a number of fact-checking organizations who point out voting by mail is a safe and secure way to vote.
“Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country, because they’re cheaters. They’re fraudulent in many cases,” Trump baselessly claimed in April, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Trump was later questioned over his own voting habits — he has, after all, voted by mail in the past himself.
The president implied to reporters at the time that there was a difference between absentee voting and mail-in voting, a distinction the Arizona Republican Party’s mailer appears to make as well (“absentee” voting is the only term that appears, without mentioning “mail-in” voting even though absentee voting is largely done by mail). Yet, according to Trump’s own lawyers who filed court documents on the matter earlier this summer, the two terms are barely distinguishable at all, and in some states are synonymous with one another.
Trump has recently amended his attitudes on mail-in voting, at least partially, suggesting it was a safe practice to use in Florida, where he intended to vote by mail. The Sunshine State’s mail-in voting system “is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” he said in a tweet, encouraging voters in that state to utilize it.
Trump’s inconsistent tone on voting by mail is also apparent in other states that are up for grabs in this year’s presidential race, such as Wisconsin, which is considered a “toss-up” state. Arizona, too, is considered a possible “toss-up” by many elections experts.
In spite of evidence that suggests neither of the two political parties benefits from mail-in voting over the other, Trump has suggested in statements and social media postings that voting by mail would help Democrats, saying in a tweet earlier this year that, “for whatever reason, [it] doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”
There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that backs Trump’s claims. However, recent polling from Monmouth University seems to indicate that Democratic voters in this year’s elections specifically are more likely to attempt to vote by mail this year than are Republican voters.
While the nation is split overall on how it plans to vote, 72 percent of Democrats say they’re “very” or “somewhat” likely to vote using mail-in ballots. Only 22 percent of Republicans responded in the poll saying they planned to vote by mail.
Some observers also believe that Trump may be laying the groundwork now to make it appear as though the outcome of the election in November, which will largely depend on mail-in ballots, is dubious, in case he loses to Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden. “The president is making the case that mailed ballots are illegitimate and highly vulnerable to fraud,” FiveThirtyEight elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley said in late July. “This is not true, of course, but by casting aspersions, he’s setting up the potential for delegitimizing the results as they come in, on and after Election Day.”
Whether trying to cast doubts on the elections or not, the Trump administration, through Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s actions in recent months, is likely making voting by mail a more challenging process for American voters to take part in. DeJoy has ordered a number of changes for the United States Postal Service, which have resulted in slowdown of mail delivery as well as raising doubts about the ability of voters in 46 states to send their ballots confidently through the mail.
Many have alleged the changes are a purposeful attempt to disrupt the absentee or mail-in voting process. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called on House lawmakers to return from their August recess to Washington, D.C. in order to vote on legislation to stop the changes DeJoy is implementing ahead of the election.
“Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy are under threat from the president,” Pelosi said in a letter to House colleagues this week.