Donald Trump continues to lie about the security of voting by mail.
In "interim guidance" it released on June 22 under the heading "Considerations for Election Polling Locations and Voters," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided recommendations for avoiding the spread of the coronavirus during voting. While a large portion of the guidelines was devoted to measures to be taken by election officials and voters in person at polling places, they also recommended the use of "alternative voting methods," including "alternatives to in-person voting if allowed in the jurisdiction."
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has continued his attacks on such alternatives, focussing his complaints on voting by mail.
The CDC guidance was released, as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, with little notice. It urges "a wide variety of voting options," "longer voting periods (more days and/or more hours)," and "any other feasible options for reducing the number of voters who congregate indoors in polling locations at the same time" as ways to reduce the spread of the virus.
The guidance describes protocols for hand hygiene and surface cleaning at polling places, cloth face covering use for poll workers, and safe processing of mail-in ballots.
The CDC recommendations came after Wisconsin saw a spike in COVID-19 cases in April following the state's in-person election. The Republican-controlled legislature and conservative state Supreme Court had blocked efforts by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to delay the election. At least 71 people who participated subsequently tested positive for the virus.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) told the Post, "In the midst of this pandemic, voters should not need to choose between their health and casting their ballots. This guidance from the CDC makes it clear that the government must take steps to protect voters."
Trump has continued to attack voting by mail-in ballot, falsely claiming that it leads to massive voter fraud.
The same day as the guidance came out, Trump tweeted, "Because of MAIL-IN BALLOTS, 2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nations history - unless this stupidity is ended. We voted during World War One & World War Two with no problem, but now they are using Covid in order to cheat by using Mail-Ins!"
In another tweet, he wrote, "RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!"
On June 26, Trump cheered a "Big WIN in Texas on Mail-in Ballots!" after the Supreme Court allowed the state to limit no-excuse voting by mail to people over age 65.
On July 2, Trump tweeted, "Mail-In Ballots will lead to massive electoral fraud and a rigged 2020 Election. Look at all of the cases and examples that are out there right now, with the Patterson, N.J., being the most recent example. Republicans, in particular, cannot let this happen!"
During a special election in Paterson in May, the Postal Inspection Service alerted officials to bundles of ballots found stuffed in a mailbox and elsewhere, and four individuals were charged with voter fraud. In total, 3,190 ballots were rejected — about 19% of the total submitted. Election law experts told NPR last week that the fact that they were caught and thrown out shows that safeguards work.
"Even on this small scale, what you see is that having a conspiracy like this to try to affect the outcome of an election is very difficult to do without detection," University of California Irvine law professor Rick Hasen said.
Other Trumps have expressed support for voting by mail. Republican National Committee robocalls in support of California U.S. House candidate Mike Garcia in April featured Donald Trump's daughter-in-law Lara saying citizens can vote by mail "safely and securely," and Donald Trump Jr. urging voters to "Make your vote count for Republican Mike Garcia and get it in the mail," CNN reported on Wednesday.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.