The Florida Republican does not want Americans to be able to vote from home even amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As millions of Americans are under stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Democratic lawmakers have urged the passage of national legislation to enable citizens to vote by mail.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said Thursday that this is a ploy to promote election fraud in order to help Joe Biden win the 2020 presidential election.
In a Fox News interview, Gaetz said, "It's perhaps Joe Biden's failures as a candidate that animate the left's desire to get these vote-by-mail provisions in coronavirus legislation, so they're able to have the mechanism of voting that even MIT professors are saying is the most susceptible to fraud."
"So a bad candidate resulting in a policy agenda to try to, I think, create the greatest opportunity for fraud in our elections system," he added.
Donald Trump and a group of Republicans have been pushing the false argument that voting by mail is rife with fraud. Trump and Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia shared voter fraud conspiracy tweets last week, and Rep. Greg Murphy of North Carolina accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of wanting to "make national voting open for fraud [in] the midst of a national crisis."
Following the 2016 general election, Oregon and Washington — states with mail-based voting systems — examined the number of suspected voting fraud cases. Washington found just 74 cases out of 3.36 million votes cast, a rate of about 0.002%. Oregon found just 54 cases, working out to the same 0.002% rate.
In a 2016 Washington Monthly opinion piece, former Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling argued that universal voting by mail should be adopted nationwide. Mail-in balloting, he wrote, is much less susceptible to wholesale fraud: "Mail-based voting systems today are far less risky than most polling place elections, precisely because they distribute ballots (and electoral risk) in such a decentralized way."
The MIT study Gaetz cited said some scholars argue that voting by mail has resulted in more cases of voter fraud than in-person voting, but it also stated, "As with all forms of voter fraud, documented instances of fraud related to VBM are rare."
After Thursday's Fox News interview, Gaetz tweeted a video of himself from his official House Twitter account with quoted text: "The Left is pushing for a mechanism of voting that is extremely susceptible to fraud...and their efforts are perhaps animated by @JoeBiden's failures as a candidate. A bad candidate shouldn't result in a policy agenda that creates an opportunity for fraud in our election system."
A Democratic staffer flagged the tweet on Thursday as "absolutely an ethics violation." Members of Congress are restricted from using their official social media accounts for election-related activities.
A Gaetz spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the tweet.
On Wednesday, Georgia's Republican state House speaker conceded in an interview that automatic voting by mail would mean higher turnout and "be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia."
While states set their own default voting methods, every state has a vote-by-mail option. Indeed, Donald Trump, after changing his voter registration to Florida last October, requested an absentee ballot last month for the state's 2020 Republican primary.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.