“Right now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and [it would] be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot,” Barr said.
Barr’s allegation has astounded election experts, who say something on the scale he’s talking about is simply unthinkable. Basically, localities know who they’ve sent ballots to and would be aware of duplicate ballots or ballots being returned by people who were never sent them. Yet here Barr is raising it again — and with no pushback from the Fox host.
Barr’s commentary, though, is similar to Trump’s in one key respect: While warning against the dangers of voting by mail, Barr himself has used it. As The Washington Post reported earlier this month, Barr voted absentee in both the 2019 and 2012 elections.
Voting absentee and opposing making voting by mail easier aren’t inherently at odds, it bears noting. One could know that their own absentee ballot is legitimate, for example, while believing that expanding the practice could lead to problems with other ballots. And one could believe that being out of state is a valid excuse but not wanting to show up to vote during the coronavirus pandemic isn’t.
But there is almost no reason to believe that any such problems might approach the scale mentioned by Barr or by Trump, who on Monday tweeted Barr’s comments and then went even bigger, alleging “MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!”
But for an administration and a Trump team so wary of mail-in ballots, there sure are a lot of members who have used them — including when voting in person seems to have been a viable option, which was true in Trump’s case, or in the cases of others who have voted by mail for many years without changing their states of residence. They’ve also filled out their absentee ballot paperwork incorrectly on several occasions and been caught, which suggests that the process isn’t as prone to misdeeds as Barr and Trump have suggested.
Here’s a rundown:
- Trump: Voted absentee in New York in 2018 and in Florida’s March primary, despite being in the area and driving past early voting locations. He also listed the wrong birth date on a 2017 absentee ballot for New York mayor and tried to register to vote in Florida in 2019 with an out-of-state address.
- Barr: Voted absentee in 2019 and 2012 in Virginia.
- Vice President Pence: Voted absentee in 2018 for both the primary and general elections, and, according to Business Insider, mailed a ballot for the 2020 Indiana GOP primary.
- White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: Voted by mail in Florida 11 times in 10 years.
- Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale: Didn’t vote at all in the 2016 general election, which he told CBS was because of “a series of problems” getting his absentee ballot, citing that as evidence of potential problems with absentee voting. He voted by mail in 2018.
- Ivanka Trump: Attempted to vote absentee for New York mayor in 2017 but sent the ballot too late.
- First lady Melania Trump: Attempted to vote absentee for New York mayor in 2017 but did not sign the envelope.
- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar: Voted absentee in 2018.
- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: Voted absentee in Florida 15 times in the past 15 years.
- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: Has permanent absentee status in Michigan.
- Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel: Voted absentee in Michigan in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.
- White House counselor Kellyanne Conway: Voted absentee in New Jersey in 2018.
- White House senior adviser Jared Kushner: Requested an absentee ballot for the New York mayoral election in 2017 but didn’t return it.
- Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner: Voted by mail repeatedly in New Jersey in recent years.
- Trump campaign deputy chief of staff Bill Stepien: Voted by mail repeatedly in New Jersey in recent years.
- Trump campaign senior adviser Nick Ayers: Has voted by mail in Georgia since 2014.
This post has been updated.