Thursday, July 30, 2020

So, why does Trump think that mail-in ballots lead to massive voter fraud?

Donald Trump has been banging on about how mail-in voting automatically leads to fraud for some time now. It's no surprise, then, that he's now suggesting that the November 3rd election should be delayed because of the possibility -nay, probability, nay, absolute certainty - of massive voter fraud from absentee or mail-in ballots. Many states are looking at mail-in voting as a way to reduce risks during the ongoing pandemic.
This, of course, is in spite of the fact that Trump himself, as well as several other Republicans who are speaking out against mail-in voting, has availed himself of mail-in voting several times in the past (for example, this March in the Florida primaries, and in New York in the 2018 election). Trump's response to this, when asked about it, was that, "I'm allowed to". Duh...
And bear in mind that absentee voting and mail-in voting are essentially the same thing, and subject to the same protections, despite Trump's attempts attempt to separate the two. His claim that, "With Universal Mail-in Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history" is therefore total bunk.
Trump seems to be obsessed with the "tremendous potential for voter fraud", which, he says, "for whatever reason, doesn't work out well for Republicans". It's not quite clear why he believes that any fraud from absentee ballots or mail-in voting should benefit the Democrats; the last time voting irregularities were blamed on mail-in votes, it was a consultant working for the Republican party that was charged (this was in North Carolina in July 2019).
That said, study after study has shown there is no significant evidence of intentional voter fraud. One study covering 14 years found 31 instances of voter fraud out of about one billion votes. There were precisely 4 cases of fraud out of the 135 million votes cast at the 2016 federal election. So, not exactly "widespread", then.
So, why is this such a big deal for Trump? He says it is because he doesn't want to wait "three months" for mailed votes to be counted, he wants instant gratification. But that doesn't ring very true. He says mailed ballots tend to favour Democrat candidates at the expense of Republicans, although no-one is very sure why he thinks that.
I can only speculate that he is trying to get out ahead and either use it as an excuse not to have an election, or if an election cannot be avoided and he loses badly (as the polls suggest he might), a reason not to accept the result. What would be the point in delaying the vote? Unclear, except that Trump gets to sit in the Oval Office a bit longer, and maybe wreak a bit more of his havoc in the country. Who knows what the man thinks?
What's ironic is that some Republicans are worried that, when mandatory mailed ballots become necessary, as they probably will given the way the pandemic is going in America, Trump's rhetoric on the subject could actually result in Republicans losing out. Sensible Democrats will probably gratefully avail themselves of the socially-distanced option (and polls confirm that), while many Republicans will probably not vote at all because they have been persuaded by Trump not to trust the system. Ah, well, you reap what you sow...
There again, there is also evidence that Black voters, who tend to vote predominantly Democrat, are even more wary of voting by mail, because they do not trust the administration to count their votes. Several studies have shown that mail-in votes from Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be rejected than those of white voters, whether due to signatures not matching or ballots being received after the deadline. So, it's a bit of a conundrum.

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