US attorney general seconds Trump warning on mail-in voting
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Attorney General William Barr
on Sunday assailed the use of mail-in ballots in US elections, saying
they could “open the floodgates of potential fraud.”
His comment, in an interview with Fox News, echoed repeated
assertions by President Donald Trump warning US states, without
evidence of wrongdoing, against using mail-in ballots in the November
At a time of “intense division in the country,” Barr said on Fox,
elections permit a peaceful transfer of power. But he said mail-in
ballots “open the floodgates of potential fraud” and undermine public
confidence in an election’s outcome.
He suggested that people’s ballots could be stolen from mailboxes
— or even that some foreign power could print up “tens of thousands
of counterfeit ballots” to sway the outcome.
Election experts have been skeptical of such claims.
Many states and localities have used mail-in ballots for years,
with little evidence of more than isolated problems. And overseas
Americans and military troops posted abroad have voted by mail with no
serious complaints of fraud.
But the practice has drawn close scrutiny this year.
With primary elections coming in the midst of the COVID-19
pandemic, polling stations in several states have seen voters standing
in long lines for hours, partly because of social distancing, raising
concerns about the spread of the disease.
The political impact of mail-in voting is not entirely clear.
There has been speculation that it might favor Democrats, as some
lower-income voters might have more trouble making it to polling
places than wealthier Republicans. But mail-in ballots are also
popular in some rural areas where Trump is particularly strong.
The president’s sharp criticism has added a political spin to the debate.
In one of his all-capitals Twitter posts last month, Trump wrote
that “MAIL-IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE. IT WILL
ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY.”
Last month Twitter twice took the rare step of cautioning readers
about Trump’s posts on mail-in voting, linking to a CNN article saying
the president’s claims of fraud were unsubstantiated.
Some Democratic critics have speculated that Trump, who warned
before his surprise 2016 election victory that the vote might be
“rigged,” was laying the groundwork in case he loses in November to
Democrat Joe Biden, who leads in recent opinion polls.
But Trump himself voted by mail-in ballot in the 2018 midterm
elections, after changing his voter registration from New York to