Trump has falsely claimed for months that mail-in voting is rife with fraud.
Donald Trump endorsed voting by mail on Tuesday, after weeks of attacking it — but he only spoke for his new "home" state of Florida.
"Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True," he tweeted. "Florida's Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail! #MAGA"
The tweet was in direct contrast with Trump's prior comments on mail-in voting.
Last month, Trump attempted to draw a distinction between absentee voting and mail ballots, though many states draw no such distinction and ballots are processed in the exact same way.
"Absentee Ballots are fine because you have to go through a precise process to get your voting privilege. Not so with Mail-Ins. Rigged Election!!! 20% fraudulent ballots?" he claimed in a July 10 tweet.
Last Thursday he made a similar argument, tweeting, "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA."
Trump has also suggested that the U.S. Postal Service (which he has undermined throughout his term) will not be able to handle millions of ballots for the November elections. Florida's mail-in ballots rely on the same postal system as other states.
He has also urged in-person voting, so people will know who won on Nov. 3.
"Mail-In Ballot fraud found in many elections. People are just now seeing how bad, dishonest and slow it is. Election results could be delayed for months. No more big election night answers? 1% not even counted in 2016. Ridiculous! Just a formula for RIGGING an Election," he tweeted in July. The same delays could apply with a huge number of mail-in ballots in Florida.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story. On Tuesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, however, responded to questions about Trump's most recent claim regarding voting in Florida, suggesting Trump had "always made the distinction" between absentee and mail-in ballots when speaking about nonexistent fraud.
McEnany falsely claimed that there was a clear difference between the two, saying absentee voters had to "proactively" request a ballot, making the system more secure, and that mail-in ballots had been sent to inactive voters in some states (they have not).
Again, experts say no substantive difference exists.
"Fundamentally, it’s the same thing," former Denver elections director Amber McReynolds, who currently serves as CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, told PolitiFact last month. "Ballots are handled exactly the same regardless of whether or not it's an absentee ballot or a vote-by-mail ballot."
With Trump's attacks on mail-in voting, many Republican voters in Florida and elsewhere have been reluctant to vote that way — even during a pandemic. As of a few weeks ago, Florida Democrats had requested about a third more mail-in ballots for the state's August primaries than had Republicans.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.