Despite alleging for months that voting by mail is insecure and unreliable, President Donald Trump has requested an absentee ballot for Florida’s primary elections next week.
This will be the second time that Trump, who had lived in New York for his entire life until he officially changed his residency to Florida last year, will take part in absentee voting in the Sunshine State. First Lady Melania Trump also requested an absentee ballot.
The request for the ballot was made on Wednesday.
Voting advocates have promoted mail-in voting as a means for voters to cast their ballots during the pandemic. However, ever since the idea started gaining momentum, Trump has bashed it, falsely describing mail-in voting as “corrupt” while speaking to reporters at the White House in April.
When confronted with the fact that he himself had utilized mail-in voting, Trump attempted to draw a false distinction between mail-in voting and casting a vote using an absentee ballot.
“Well, there’s a big difference between somebody that’s out of state and does a ballot and everything’s sealed, certified and everything else,” Trump said at the time.
“I think mail-in voting is a terrible thing,” he added. “I think if you vote, you should go.”
Trump changed his position on voting by mail earlier this month, at least when it came to Florida’s elections, tweeting that the “election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True.” His reelection campaign has also promoted voting by mail to Trump’s supporters in toss-up states like Wisconsin.
Every state has some version of voting by mail, and five states across the country conduct their elections solely through mail-in ballots. There’s little to no evidence to suggest the practice is rife with fraud of any kind.
As far as a difference between mail-in voting and absentee ballots, that Trump and some of his advisers have tried to peddle, there is no distinction, a point the president’s own legal team made in legal arguments earlier this summer.
Trump’s shifting positions on voting by mail, however, seem to be based on whether it can help him — either by allowing him to vote by mail personally, or allowing his supporters to do so. When it comes to helping the United States Postal Service (USPS) prepare for an unprecedented influx of mail-in ballots, the president has said he would not provide funds to do so.
“They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it,” Trump said in comments to Fox News this week. “How are they going to do it if they don’t have the money to do it?”
Media commentators have said that these comments show Trump is attempting to sabotage mail-in voting efforts in order to win reelection later this fall.
“Trump just comes out and says it: He is blocking money to keep the Postal Service afloat in an attempt to cast the election as fraudulent,” Washington Post reporter Jacob Bogage tweeted after hearing the president’s statement.