President Trump has taken kindly to Republican misinformation surrounding voter fraud for months now, but on Monday he put forward three of his most brazen suppression efforts surrounding the increasingly important practice of voting by mail:
As is common for presidential tweets these days, these missives are both incorrect and show a great deal of hypocrisy. Forty-five states already allow the kind of voting Trump considers dangerous, and in these states there have been negligible levels of tampering and fraud. As for foreign interference, election law expert Rick Hasen told NBC News that interfering with mail ballots — compared to the relative ease of hacking in-person voting machines — would be “ridiculous,” considering the bounty of safeguards built into the process. “They would have to have accurate voter information including voter identifying information, such as signatures or the last four of people’s driver license numbers,” Hasen told NBC News. “There are just so many things that would make it obvious that these ballots would be fraudulent that such a scheme would be easily caught and deterred.”
There’s further evidence that Trump is only feigning concern in an attempt to suppress votes: his campaign and his administration is filled with mail-in voters – and he’s even done it himself. Here are the most prominent Trump allies who have voted by mail in recent elections.
At a coronavirus press briefing on April 8, the president called voting by mail “a very dangerous thing for this country because they are cheaters.” Shortly after his false comment, a reporter reminded him that he voted by mail in the 2018 midterm. “Well sure, I could vote by mail,” Trump responded, explaining away the dissonance by saying he wasn’t able to get down to his primary residence in Florida to do so — despite visiting his golf course in the state at least 89 times since becoming president.
With the coronavirus restricting Trump to the White House for most of the spring, the president and the first lady also voted by mail in the 2020 primary in Florida.
Vice-President Mike Pence
While the vice-president has stayed mostly silent as his boss campaigns against mail-in ballots, Pence did engage in the practice for the April primary. According to Business Insider, Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, used the Indiana governor’s mansion — where the pair haven’t lived since 2016 — as their address, which is perfectly legal since they have not registered to vote in Washington, D.C.
Advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
According to the New York Daily News, the presidential advisers made an effort to vote by absentee ballot in the 2017 New York City mayoral election: Jared Kushner requested a mail-in ballot but did not send one in, while Ivanka Trump sent hers in past the deadline. President Trump, too, may have had trouble with his mail-in ballot in the 2017 mayoral election, as he put the wrong month for his birthday.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
The White House press secretary defended Trump’s decision to vote by mail despite his public condemnations of the process, saying that he was excused from his own standard because “the president is, after all, the president, which means he’s here in Washington. He’s unable to cast his vote down in Florida, his state of residence.”
Shortly after her comment in April, the Tampa Bay Times reported that McEnany, a Florida native, had voted absentee in every election she had participated in since 2010. In a statement provided to the paper, she said: “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. President Trump is against the Democrat plan to politicize the coronavirus and expand mass mail-in voting without a reason, which has a high propensity for voter fraud.” However, Florida — a state with a significant seasonal population — does not require residents to provide any reason when they request a mail-in ballot.
Cabinet Members Bill Barr, Betsy DeVos, Larry Kudlow, and Wilbur Ross
In an interview with the New York Times Magazine this month, Attorney General William Barr said that he was “real worried about” the potential of foreign governments interfering with mail-in ballots. Despite this worry, Barr has voted absentee in Virginia in 2012 and 2019, according to the Washington Post.
Three more repeat offenders of this completely healthy democratic process are the president’s secretary of Commerce, director of the United States National Economic Council, and Education secretary. Ross, 82, has voted absentee in 15 of the last 15 elections, including the Florida primary in March, while Kudlow, 72, has reportedly voted by mail in 13 of the last 20 elections. DeVos, meanwhile, has permanent absentee voting status in Michigan.
Other Trump administration staffers who have voted absentee include Kellyanne Conway and Alex Azar.
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel
The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee has shared her own criticisms of voting by mail, calling Democratic bills to expand absentee voting amid a pandemic an effort that “vastly expand[s] opportunities for fraud and weaken confidence in our elections.” In May, after McDaniel sued the state of California for providing all voters in the state with mail-in ballots for November, her own voting history was made public:
Campaign Manager Brad Parscale
The president’s current campaign manager did not vote for the president in 2016: “I was in New York working to elect Donald Trump and encountered a series of problems receiving my absentee ballot from Texas and missed the deadline,” Parscale told CBS News last week. For the 2018 midterms, Parscale stepped up and voted by mail.