This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis.
Did you know that Donald Trump votes by mail? You’d be forgiven if you didn’t, especially if you’ve read any of his error-ridden tweets or watched his unhinged briefings trashing the practice.
Vice President Mike Pence also votes by mail. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has voted by mail for the last 15 years. Other senior members of the Trump administration, like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, cast their ballots by mail, too.
Yet, for weeks, Trump has used the White House podium to denigrate the very practice he’s been taking advantage of, and he’s deployed his Republican cronies to spread mail in voting conspiracies to the public.
He’s attempted to undermine Democratic lawmakers as they fight for federal funding to ensure millions of Americans can safely cast their ballots while they shelter in their homes. He’s made outrageous claims about voter fraud to national audiences, like saying that “mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters” — a comment that Vox later called a “pants on fire falsehood.”
He’s said that there is a “tremendous potential for voter fraud” when in reality — and quite ironically — the only time there’s been a large-scale case of mail-in voter fraud happened when a Republican operative tried to steal a congressional election in North Carolina in 2018. He’s made false assertions that mail-in voting gives Democratic candidates an electoral advantage, while election experts and numerous independent studies show that voting by mail doesn’t benefit any political party.
He’s called voting by mail “corrupt” while the Republican National Committee sent mailers to conservative voters in Pennsylvania urging them to send in their mail-in ballot and saying that “voting by mail is an easy, convenient and secure way to cast your ballot.” And those mailers were sent the same week that RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel penned an op-ed pushing the widely discredited claim that mail-in voting is akin to ballot harvesting. Even this weekend he went so far as to call for ballots cast by mail to be thrown out after California implemented mail-in voting statewide last week.
The dishonesty and blatant hypocrisy of these claims are almost shocking — but this isn’t the first time Trump or party officials have lied to the public about voting by mail. For years he’s pushed a false narrative after elections that there was “serious voter fraud” because voters simply requested mail-in ballots or because some states vote entirely by mail.
He’s asserted that absentee ballots from Florida “showed up out of nowhere” and that there was “illegal voting” in California in 2016 after Hillary won the state by more than four million votes. Both of these claims are — obviously — lies.
Fortunately, the American people aren’t falling for them. Poll after poll shows that a large majority of Americans — across party lines — support conducting upcoming elections by mail-in voting. One released last week shows that 67 percent of voters support implementing vote-by-mail right now to protect voters’ health during the crisis, but 58 percent also favor reforming election rules so that all eligible voters can cast their ballots by mail in the future.
Perhaps that’s because millions of Americans already vote by mail every year — in Republican and Democratic states alike. In 2016 alone, more than 23 percent of voters cast their ballots by mail. About 30 states already allow people to vote absentee for any reason — including Florida, where Trump votes. Both Washington and Oregon have conducted their elections by mail for years to great success. Voters in Colorado have cast their ballots entirely by mail since 2013, too.
After a chaotic election in Wisconsin left voters sick and as more states deal with postponed primary elections, it’s heartening to see that officials in other states are following the lead of their neighbors and the advice of experts. In Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, Republicans in charge of the states’ elections have already spearheaded efforts to implement or expand mail-in voting — a seemingly direct rebuke of Trump and the RNC.
The success of mail-in voting across the country is exactly why lawmakers like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are pushing for $4 billion in funding to expand vote-by-mail options in every state amid this pandemic. It’s also why groups like mine, Stand Up America, have demanded Congress allocate those funds to states in the next response package before it’s too late.
The bottom line is that voters shouldn’t be forced to risk their health to cast their vote because of Trump’s penchant for spreading voter fraud conspiracies. Congress must ignore these falsehoods, listen to the experts and allocate the funds needed to support implementing vote-by-mail and no-excuse absentee voting in every state.
If it’s good enough for Donald Trump, then voting by mail should be good enough for the rest of the country — especially as the U.S. grapples with the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.
Ryan Thomas is the National Press Secretary for Stand Up America, a grassroots community of over 2 million progressives working to strengthen democracy in the U.S. since Trump’s election in 2016.