Top White House and campaign aides fanned the airwaves Sunday to defend President Donald Trump’s opposition to universal mail-in voting, casting widespread access to voting amid a global pandemic as a disaster waiting to happen.
Trump told Fox Business Network last week that Democrats can’t have universal mail-in voting if the U.S. Postal Service isn’t adequately funded. And USPS has sent letters to 46 states and Washington, D.C., warning that some ballots may not arrive in time to be counted for the November election.
“The president doesn’t have a problem with anybody voting by mail, if you would look at it in terms of maybe a no-excuse absentee ballot,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “What he opposes is universal mail-in ballots, where you send millions of ballots out to registered voters across the country, even those that don’t request it.”
Meadows argued that voter rolls are inaccurate and that ballots could be sent to old addresses or dead people’s homes, potentially leading to the actual residents voting more than once.
It’s “asking for a disaster,” said Meadows, who noted that Trump has already requested his absentee ballot to vote in Florida.
“We want to make sure that every vote counts, but that only one vote counts. And so, when you look at that, this debate is really over a process. A number of states are now trying to figure out how they’re going to go to universal mail-in ballots. That’s a disaster, where we won’t know the election results on Nov. 3, and we might not know it for months.”
Democrats have noted that five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington state — have voted largely or entirely by mail for years, with few problems. They’ve also noted for someone to use a ballot improperly sent to them, they’d have to use a fake signature, which would subject them to prosecution.
Trump allies pointed to recent primary elections in New York state, where it took six weeks to declare Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the winner as a harbinger of what’s to come in November if most of America votes by mail.
“This is where we literally have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of live ballots being sent out,” senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And, look, it could be going to someone who no longer lives at that location, be going to dead people. We’ve seen where dogs and even cats have received official communications from registrars, from secretary of states. It takes a long time for states to be able to put this together safely and securely. And to go and to rush this through, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said a friend of his in New Jersey who was recently married received a ballot in both her new name and her maiden name. He also invoked Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, who said there’s “no reason” Americans can’t vote in person as long as they wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.
“I think what President Trump wants is a fair system,” Kushner said on CBS’ “Face the Nation. “If you have a tried and true system, where there are some security mechanisms built in, that’s acceptable. But you can’t have a new system and expect Americans to have confidence in the election.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared on three of the political talk shows, where he accused Trump of trying to suppress votes by defunding and destroying the post office.
“He wants to sabotage the Postal Service because he does not want many millions of people to be able to vote through mail-in ballots,” Sanders said of the president on CNN. “That’s not me. That is exactly what he said.”
Sanders added on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump is “sabotaging our democracy.”
“I guess that he thinks that a suppressed vote, a lower voter turnout, will work for him and that it will help him win the election,” he told host Chuck Todd.
House Democrats announced Sunday that they were inviting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and USPS Board of Governors Chairman Robert Duncan to testify on Capitol Hill next week even though the House is supposed to be in recess until mid-September.
“The hearing will examine the sweeping operational and organizational changes at the Postal Service that experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections,” Democratic leaders said in a statement.
“The Postmaster General and top Postal Service leadership must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election.”