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Trump’s Press Secretary Says It’s Okay for Her and Trump to Vote by Mail

Mail-in ballots are essential for holding a safe election amid COVID-19 and should be made available to everyone.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., May 8, 2020.

As she spent the better part of last week defending President Donald Trump’s constant attacks against mail-in voting, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany apparently failed to disclose that she herself had engaged in the practice with great frequency.

According to reporting from The Tampa Bay Times, McEnany has voted by mail 11 times since 2010. That accounts for every time she ever cast a ballot in any election over the past decade.

McEnany is a Florida resident, as is Trump. Both have taken advantage of the state’s absentee ballot rules to vote by mail, and both have responded with questionable rationales for why it’s acceptable for them to do so but not for the nation at large.

In April, when Trump began his strong pushback against the idea of mail-in voting for citizens fearful of contracting coronavirus by having to vote in person, the president wrongly asserted the practice was rife with “cheaters.” When confronted with the fact that he was among Florida’s absentee voting participants, Trump said it was okay for him to do because he lived far away.

“Because I’m allowed to,” Trump said to reporters at the time. “Well, that’s called out of state — you know why I voted? Because I happened to be in the White House and I won’t be able to go to Florida and vote.”

McEnany echoed those sentiments on Wednesday, wrongly asserting that absentee ballot voting by mail was reserved only for voters who were not geographically able to vote in person.

“Absentee voting has the word absent in it for a reason. It means you’re absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person,” she said.

Florida, however, does not agree with McEnany’s assertions, at least based on that state’s allowance of any individual to request a mail-in ballot without having to provide an excuse to do so. Indeed, most states are “no-excuse” absentee ballot states, meaning anyone in those states can vote absentee and by mail if they make a request for such a ballot.

Even in states that do require an excuse to vote by mail, however, there is no strict rule in most that absentee ballots can only be handed out to those who will be outside the jurisdiction on Election Day. Among the small number of states that require an excuse for voting by mail, for example, eight of them grant absentee ballots to individuals on the basis of age, allowing older Americans to exercise their voting rights without having to do it in person if they so wish, even if they’re in town at the time of the election.

Mail-in voting may expand in a big way this year, as fears over COVID-19 persist. Last week, a federal judge in Texas ruled that those who worried about voting in person would be allowed to request an absentee ballot to vote by mail instead. The state is planning an appeal of that ruling, however.

Trump and several other Republicans who are against voting by mail across the U.S. cite the possibility of voter fraud and other complications related to such practices. Yet such concerns seem to be misplaced, as fraud is incredibly rare. Indeed, the chances of absentee ballot voter fraud happening are less likely than the odds of a person getting hit by lightning.

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