“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” President Trump tweeted May 26, accusing California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, of proposing to send ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.” In fact, voter fraud of any kind is rare, and states that conduct all-mail-in elections, such as Oregon and Utah, have not seen widespread fraud. Mr. Trump may have been spurred by a lawsuit the Republican National Committee filed May 24 against Mr. Newsom, demanding that the courts stop the governor from distributing absentee ballots in California. That lawsuit, too, is built on fearmongering.
Mr. Trump’s claims to the contrary, Mr. Newsom has not ordered absentee ballots be sent to “anyone living in the state” — only to registered voters. In fact, according to California’s secretary of state, only registered voters deemed active will be sent ballots, which is similar to Utah’s system. Many states are sending ballot-request forms rather than ballots, but that extra step could stress state resources and discourage voting. After receiving a flood of absentee-ballot requests for its April primary, Wisconsin officials failed to send out thousands of ballots in time.
It is probable that some ballots will end up at the wrong addresses. But California’s signature matching procedures will discourage or catch abuse. The procedures also give voters a chance to prove they are who they claim to be if their ballots are in danger of being discarded. Any remaining risk of fraud is minuscule, and must be weighed against the substantial threat that without a major effort to enable vote by mail, many people will be unable or justifiably afraid to vote.
Mr. Trump has made clear, by his own words, that his real concern is not election integrity. He warned in April that expanding vote by mail would produce “a level of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” In his tweets condemning Mr. Newsom, the president warned that people who “have never even thought of voting before” might cast a ballot if sent one. The leader of a great democracy is denouncing higher voter participation.
If Republicans fear that enabling more people to vote will hurt them, they should offer more attractive policies and candidates — and stop trying to suppress the vote, in California and everywhere else.