the national interest

Why Do Trump Fans Think Amazon Proved Mail Ballots Are Fraudulent?

Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Before he eventually resorted to a conspiracy theory that Zombie Hugo Chavez planted a vote-fabricating algorithm in Dominion ballot machines, Trump’s original plan to steal the election centered on discrediting voting by mail. His loyalists are still claiming mail voting is rife with fraud. Their latest “evidence” is Amazon’s efforts to prevent its workers from voting by mail in an election to organize a plant in Alabama.

Amazon’s workers in Bessemer, Alabama, want to vote to unionize their warehouse. Understandably, they’d prefer to hold the election by mail rather than force employees to cast in-person ballots during a pandemic. Amazon’s management opposes this. Conservatives see this as proof, somehow, that voting by mail really must be rigged.

An array of Trumpy media sources, from RedState to Tucker Carlson to Donald Trump, Jr. have seized gleefully on Amazon’s opposition. And it is true that there is a contradiction between the stance the Washington Post took on mail balloting and the position Amazon’s management is taking. Here, via Red State, is the right-wing analysis of the contradiction. It’s proof that Amazon knows mail balloting is a vehicle for fraud, and opposes it for that reason:

What isn’t fair or secure about 6,000 employees receiving ballots to their home, Bezos? Are you afraid that union goons will intercept the ballots before employees get them? Are you afraid that union goons will harass employees for their vote since they, too, will have access to the list of employees and their addresses? Are you afraid that union goons will show up at employees’ homes to harvest the ballots?

Are you afraid that in the extended time frame for the election that ballot-counting can be a mess and inaccurate? Are you afraid that it will be more difficult to tell if an employee in fact returned a particular ballot or if someone returned it fraudulently?

The other possible explanation would be that mail balloting is not vulnerable to fraud, and that Amazon’s opposition has other motivations. Maybe, just maybe, the main objective of a corporation fighting to prevent its workers from organizing is not to hold the fairest possible election. Maybe Amazon’s corporate objective is to defeat the union. And maybe they think making it harder for workers to cast ballots is more likely to produce a favorable outcome for management.

Liberals have a very easy way to process the contradiction between the Post’s reporting on mail ballots and Amazon’s opposition thereto: First, Bezos does not dictate the Post’s reporting or editorial line. Second, Republicans oppose mail voting for the same reason Amazon does: They both believe they can winnow the electorate by making voting more dangerous and increase their chances of winning.

The right’s analysis, by contrast, makes no sense — unless you assume that Jeff Bezos’s motives in handling an election of his workforce must be pure.

The Trumpist right has made a big show of populism, casting itself as the tribune of the forgotten working man and enemy of the global cosmopolitan class. But this is simply a pose to discredit liberal democracy and the welfare state. When you actually drill down into the specifics, they implicitly trust Jeff Bezos. They don’t want to stop Bezos from crushing his workforce; their only recrimination is that Amazon refused to help suppress the electorate in the same way.

Why Do Trump Fans Think Amazon Proved Mail Voting Is Fraud?