President Donald Trump Tuesday evening attacked voting by mail—a solution many rights advocates argue is particularly necessary amid the ongoing public health crisis—as a "terrible thing" even after admitting that he cast a mail-in ballot in the 2020 Republican presidential primary in Florida (presumably for himself) just last month.
"Mail-in voting is horrible. It's corrupt," Trump said during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. "Sure I can vote by mail... because I'm allowed to."
"Well that's called out-of-state," Trump continued, attempting to justify what observers denounced as a glaringly hypocritical position. "You know why I voted? Because I happened to be in the White House and I won't be able to go to Florida and vote."
The president proceeded to suggest, without evidence, that mail-in voting is riddled with fraud and abuse. "You get thousands and thousands of people sitting in someone's living room signing ballots all over the place," Trump said. "No, I think that mail-in voting is a terrible thing."
Trump added vaguely that "even the concept of early voting is not the greatest, because a lot of things happen."
President Trump: "I think mail-in voting is horrible, it's corrupt."
Reporter: "You voted by mail in Florida's election last month, didn't you?"
Trump: "Sure. I can vote by mail"
Reporter: "How do you reconcile with that?"
Trump: "Because I'm allowed to." pic.twitter.com/Es8ZNyB3O1
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 7, 2020
Sean Eldridge, founder and president of advocacy group Stand Up America, said in a statement late Monday that "Trump's baseless attacks on vote-by-mail are a pathetic attempt to suppress the vote in the middle of a national crisis."
"He is demanding that voters choose between protecting their health and participating in our democracy," said Eldridge. "Expanding access to the ballot through mail-in voting should not be a partisan issue, yet Trump and his cronies are trafficking in debunked conspiracy theories to undermine efforts to ensure every eligible voter can cast their ballot this fall. Trump's lies are especially dangerous after today's catastrophic election in Wisconsin."
I waited 2.5 hours today in rain and hail (and a mask and gloves) to vote in Milwaukee because @wisgop and @scotus would rather risk lives than have a fair election. Instead of 182 polling sites, we had 5. #VoterSuppression #WisconsinPrimary pic.twitter.com/9F8xKwciOX
— Trudy Harwood (@TrudyandPierre) April 8, 2020
Tuesday's press briefing was not the first time Trump has attacked mail-in voting. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, Trump said in an interview on "Fox & Friends" that "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again" if mail-in voting and other voting expansion proposals were to be implemented on a national scale.
"One promising method is a vote-by-mail system," wrote Williams and Blado. "Five states—Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah—already conduct their elections through mail... It's time for state elections to practice what their own health departments preach: stay home."
Fred Wertheimer, president of advocacy group Democracy 21, urged Congress to act urgently to ensure that mail-in voting is available nationwide by November.
"Trump's continuing efforts to rig the November election, in this case by suppressing the sacred right to vote, must be defeated," Wertheimer said in a statement. "Every eligible voter must have a safe and secure opportunity to vote in November. In order to accomplish this, it is essential for Congress to provide the states with additional funding of at least $1.6 billion in the next relief bill, which is necessary to ensure that fair and honest elections occur in November, unrigged by President Trump and his allies."