William Barr is propping up false claims by Donald Trump that absentee voting allows massive voter fraud.
Attorney General William Barr is pushing a new conspiracy theory about absentee voting, falsely claiming that voting by mail is vulnerable to foreign manipulation.
"We've been talking about how, in terms of foreign influence, there are a number of foreign countries that could easily make counterfeit ballots, put names on them, send them in," Barr told the New York Times. "And it'd be very hard to sort out what's happening."
The comment is Barr's latest attempt to prop up one of Donald Trump's false conspiracy theories.
His claim is easily debunked.
"It would be easy for election officials to sort out what was happening. This is pure BS," Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida and an expert on voting and voter turnout, tweeted.
There are multiple safeguards against counterfeit ballots, said McDonald, and "you can't just print out a single ballot for the entire U.S."
McDonald said each voting precinct in the country has its own unique ballot, and a foreign adversary would have to copy each one. According to a report issued by the United States Election Assistance Commission in 2004, there are nearly 175,000 precincts in the country.
Absentee ballots are also protected by the signatures of voters on the sealed envelopes in which they are mailed back. Tweeted McDonald, "Election officials will figure out something is afoot pretty quickly. This is why it is easy for election officials to detect ham-handed attempts like making ballot copies."
"All the while, the post office, which works with election officials to process ballots, will have to be oblivious to fake ballots moving through their system. If someone dumps a bunch at a single location, that will be suspicious. Certainly if they are overseas addresses," he said.
Barr is propping up Trump's false claim that absentee voting facilitates massive voter fraud.
Democrats have pushed for more federal funding to help states expand absentee voting ahead of the November elections, given the dangers of voting in person in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But in some cases, Republican voters have listened to Trump's claims and have failed to vote by mail..
There is no evidence that voting by mail — a form of voting the vast majority of Americans support, according to multiple polls — is more vulnerable to voter fraud, which experts say is extremely rare in general.
The use of voting by mail was increasing even before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released by the Brennan Center for Justice.
"Despite this dramatic increase in mail voting over time, fraud rates remain infinitesimally small," the Brennan Center said. "None of the five states that hold their elections primarily by mail has had any voter fraud scandals since making that change."
Trump has also claimed that absentee voting would benefit Democrats over Republicans, even though there is no evidence that is the case either.
Barr has a history of making false comments and intervening in Justice Department matters to legitimize Trump's conspiracy theories.
Barr lied about the contents of former special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to spin the findings and make them look better for Trump.
He also lied about the findings of a report that found that the investigation itself was legitimate, and instead is overseeing his own investigation into false conspiracy theories about the basis for it to prop up Trump's lie that former President Barack Obama spied on the Trump campaign.
Barr also intervened in the prosecutions of Trump ally Roger Stone and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. Career Justice Department prosecutors resigned in protest over his meddling in the Stone case; Sen. Elizabeth Warren called his interference in the Flynn case "blatantly corrupt," and other lawmakers called for his disbarment.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.