In May, he tweeted that mail-in voting in 2020 would “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY.” In June, he told Politico that the “biggest threat” to his re-election was if the dozens of lawsuits filed by his campaign and Republican allies to block expanded access to mail-in voting failed. “If we don’t win those lawsuits, I think — I think it puts the election at risk.”
In a Thursday morning interview on Fox Business, Trump went even further. He brought up a proposed $25 billion in emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service — funding that Senate Republicans and the White House oppose.
“Now, they need that money in order to have Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said. “But if they don’t get those items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
Mail-in voting, also known as absentee voting, is a widely used method embraced by Democratic- and Republican-run states. The incidences of voter fraud in mail-in voting are vanishingly small. Yet for the past several months, the Trump administration has attacked mail-voting by spreading disinformation about fraud, installing a new Postmaster General who has scaled back delivery service, and resisted new federal funds for local election officials who must adjust their plans due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Trump’s assault on mail-in voting is blatantly political and nakedly hypocritical. At the same time he attacks mail-in voting, his campaign is encouraging Republican voters in battleground states to apply for absentee ballots and vote by mail. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, and other senior administration officials have all voted by mail in recent elections. The only plausible explanation for Trump’s newfound resistance to voting by mail — to the point that he would kneecap the Postal Service to prevent the delivery and transport of ballots — is that he believes it will hurt his chances of reelection in November.
“Mail-in voting wasn’t created in this pandemic,” Janai Nelson, associate director-counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, recently told Rolling Stone. “It’s only when we see the expansion of access to this very practical tool that we see the casting of votes being subjected to such scrutiny and malignment.”