States like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania only send ballots to registered voters who request them.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday defended Donald Trump's desire to "get rid of the ballots" used in absentee voting, citing a report about ballots being "found cast aside."
But the two states McEnany cited, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as evidence of the problems with what she called "mass mail out voting," do not send out mail-in ballots in a mass mailing. They require registered voters to specifically request an absentee ballot — the kind of absentee voting that Trump has repeatedly said he approves of.
Trump said in a Wednesday news conference that he wants to "get rid of the ballots" connected to mail-in voting, and said there wouldn't be a peaceful transition of power if he loses to Joe Biden unless that condition is met.
McEnany was asked about the remark in her press briefing and proceeded to cite issues with "mass mail ballots" to make her case.
"In the last 24 hours, police in Greenville, Wisconsin, found mail in a ditch, and it included absentee ballots," McEnany said. "I can confirm for you that Trump ballots, ballots for the president were found in Pennsylvania."
The latter case was confirmed by the Justice Department on Thursday afternoon. However, while an initial statement said officials had discovered nine discarded mail-in military ballots — all cast for Trump, only some of which were "attributed to specific voters" — a subsequent press release corrected the original total to seven ballots cast for Trump. The remaining two ballots, the department said, had been recovered along with the other seven and had been "resealed inside their appropriate envelopes by Luzerne elections staff prior to recovery by the FBI."
"[T]he contents of those 2 ballots are unknown," the revised statement read.
The initial Justice Department statement was ultimately deleted.
In the past, McEnany has defended Trump's criticism of mail-in voting, as well as his own record of voting absentee, by suggesting he is only against "mass" mail-in voting, or states that proactively send ballots to registered voters.
"He's always been for voting absentee," she said in August. "What he is not for is mass mail-in voting or perhaps, to make it even clearer, mass mail-out voting."
From a Sept. 24 White House press briefing:
REPORTER: So Kayleigh, yesterday when the president said, "Get rid of the ballots, there won't be a transfer, frankly, there'll be a continuation," which particular ballots is he talking about wanting to get rid of, and why does he think that would help him get elected?
KAYLEIGH McENANY: The president wants to get rid of mass mail out voting, and that's not because of — he's said clearly that that could go either way, it could damage either candidate's chances because it's a system that subject to fraud.
In fact, in the last 24 hours, police in Greenville, Wisconsin, found mail in a ditch, and it included absentee ballots, and also I can confirm for you that Trump ballots, ballots for the president were found in Pennsylvania and I believe you should be getting more information on that shortly.
Here in the last 24 hours, they were found cast aside.
This article has been updated to include a revised statement from the Justice Department.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.