White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says absentee ballots are for when voters are "unable to vote in person," which health experts have argued should include a pandemic.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany made the case for allowing more people to vote by mail during the November election when she defended her decision to cast absentee ballots 11 times in the past 10 years.
"Absentee voting has the word absent in it for a reason," McEnany said in a press statement on Wednesday. "It means you're absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person."
Health experts have warned that in-person voting during this pandemic inevitably means a high risk of infection, making it difficult or impossible for many people to do it.
In a May 19 amicus brief to the Texas Supreme Court supporting expanded access to absentee voting, a group of health care experts wrote that in-person voting would lead to "heightened danger" of the transmission of coronavirus, even if facilities regularly wiped down voting machines.
The brief looked at whether "voting in person on election day would be likely to injure voters' health," and declared, "the answer is simply, 'Yes, it would.'"
Without immunity to the virus, "no accommodation can be made at the polling place to effectively protect against injuring those voters' health given the virulence of COVID-19," the group wrote.
In April, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said he was not sure in-person voting in November would be safe.
"Do you think it will be safe in November for voters to physically go to vote at the polls?" Fauci was asked by CNN in an interview.
"I hope so," Fauci said, before saying, "I can't guarantee it."
McEnany's statement came in response to a report by the Tampa Bay Times showing that she has regularly voted by mail over the past decade, even as she currently opposes allowing more people to do the same.
Her stance is the same as that of Donald Trump, who has also voted by mail in the past but now regularly lies about voter fraud as he argues against allowing more people to use absentee ballots.
On Wednesday, Trump falsely claimed that allowing more people to use absentee ballots would result in "a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots."
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, "it is still more likely for an American to be struck by lightning than to commit mail voting fraud."
The center's analysis of votes from 2000 through 2012, a time period during which billions of votes were cast across the country, found fewer than 500 cases of absentee voter fraud. It also said that absentee ballots "are secure and essential to holding a safe election amid the coronavirus pandemic."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.