“Who needs Vladimir Putin when you can install a politically compromised Postmaster General to sabotage this election for him? Donald Trump has turned mail-in voting into a mafia-style negotiation with the American people and is now holding our democracy hostage,” said Kyle Morse, an American Bridge 21st Century spokesperson. “Not only did Donald Trump mismanage the pandemic — necessitating safe mail-in voting — and wreck our economy, he is admitting in broad daylight that he will sabotage this election and force people to choose between their health and their vote. The stakes couldn’t be higher with Trump’s transition from buffoonish racist to full-on autocrat all but complete.”
By Aaron Blake on 8/13/20
Back in March, President Trump seemed to blurt out the real reason he opposes expanded voting by mail in the 2020 election. Referring to provisions in the Democrats’ coronavirus stimulus bill to vastly increase funding for voting by mail, he said on Fox News that the bill had “levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
He’s doing it again.
Speaking with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network on Thursday morning, Trump appeared to confirm that he opposes Democrats’ proposed funding for mail-in balloting and the U.S. Postal Service in order to make it more difficult to expand voting by mail.
“Now they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
Trump also alluded to this idea at a news conference on Wednesday evening, noting that Democrats are now asking for $3.5 billion for universal mail-in voting and an additional $25 billion for the Postal Service.
“They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess,” Trump said. “Are they going to do it even if they don’t have the money?”
He added: “But therefore they don’t have it. They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in votes.”
And: “Therefore, they can’t do the universal mail-in vote. It’s very simple. How are they going to do it if they don’t have the money to do it?”
Trump has argued, as he did Wednesday, that the post office is unreliable and that mail-in ballots lead to fraud — despite basically no evidence of large-scale fraud. Trump and the White House have regularly cited dubious evidence in making the case, including pointing to ballots that have been rejected for reasons unrelated to fraud and dodgy data about voter registration numbers.
A charitable reading of his comments would suggest that he’s saying the post office could never handle something like universal mail-in voting, and that’s why he opposes giving it the chance. That same charitable reading could be applied to his March comments; maybe he was just saying that the fraud would help Democrats, rather than increased turnout!
But as in March, Trump’s choice of words points at something more partisan. If you are so concerned about fraud and about the Postal Service’s ability to handle mail-in ballots, after all, couldn’t more funding help alleviate those problems? And if your true concern is about fraud, why would you cite “levels of voting” — i.e. turnout — rather than that alleged fraud?
Republicans have repeatedly in recent years pointed in the direction of this being about electoral gain rather than their concerns about fraud. Some have pitched Voter ID as a boon to Republicans’ ability to win elections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last year suggested that Democrats’ proposal to make Election Day a federal holiday — something that would logically increase turnout — was “a power grab that’s smelling more and more like exactly what it is.”
Trump has taken a keen interest in the Postal Service in recent months, installing a loyalist to head it. Democrats have accused him of doing this to stifle the ability of Americans to cast votes by mail. The Post’s Jacob Bogage has a great piece on the ins and outs of what’s been taking place there:
Trump’s remarks came hours after congressional Democrats intensified calls for more oversight of the agency and the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor and Trump ally.
The effort comes after DeJoy ushered a wholesale reorganization of agency’s executive ranks, restructured operations and instituted a hiring freeze on top of other cost-cutting measures already being blamed for significant mail backups. Two House Democrats, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.) and Rep. Alma Adams (N.C.), called for DeJoy’s removal over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the policies stand in the way of the chamber completing a “Phase IV” coronavirus relief package.
In recent weeks, the Postal Service has warned states that long-standing classification practices for ballots and other political mailings may not be enough to ensure timely delivery for the November election, exacerbating Democrats’ fears that Trump is using the nation’s mail service to aid his reelection bid.
Postal officials advised the nation’s secretaries of state to use high-priority first-class postage, which costs 55 cents an item, on election mail rather than the third-class, or bulk, rate of 20 cents typically used.
But postal workers have long informally treated election mail — including voter registration materials, voter information and ballots — as first-class items, affording them privileges their 20-cent price point ordinarily would not allow.
Democrats worry the Postal Service may issue new directions for handling election mail and attribute those changes to the USPS’s financial difficulties and DeJoy’s cost-cutting mandate. The Senate and House Democratic caucuses wrote to DeJoy on Wednesday urging him not to change election mail processing practices.
Trump’s comments on Wednesday and Thursday will only deepen suspicions about what all this is truly about.