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Trump admits he’s stalling pandemic relief to make it harder to vote

Trump is blocking post office funding to sabotage mail-in voting.

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House on August 12.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Ian Millhiser is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he focuses on the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the decline of liberal democracy in the United States. He received a JD from Duke University and is the author of two books on the Supreme Court.

At a Wednesday press briefing, President Donald Trump laid out some of his objections to a Democratic proposal to provide additional aid to individuals and states who are struggling financially during the pandemic. He specifically named two provisions that he finds unacceptable: $3.5 billion in funding for elections that could be used to fund mail-in voting, and $25 billion in funding for the post office.

Appearing on Fox Business Thursday morning, Trump elaborated on his objection to these two line items: He doesn’t want universal mail-in voting to be possible.

Democrats, he claimed, “need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots” — something that Trump apparently views as a bad thing.

“Those are just two items,” Trump added. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

Trump has spent much of the pandemic railing against universal mail-in voting, a practice where states automatically mail ballots to registered voters. His campaign even sued the state of Nevada in an attempt to invalidate that state’s law providing for voting by mail.

At times, Trump’s also ranted against absentee ballots, which allow voters to cast a ballot by mail but only if they specifically request such a ballot in advance. Though he said earlier this month that mail-in ballots in Florida are fine because “Florida’s got a great Republican governor.”

Trump frequently claims that mail-in ballots are a vehicle for voter fraud — indeed, he did so again in his Fox Business interview Thursday morning, suggesting that additional funding for voting by mail will lead to “something that will turn out to be fraudulent.”

But there’s no evidence that any meaningful amount of mail-in ballot voter fraud exists. The state of Oregon, for example, has provided more than 100 million mail-in ballots to voters since 2000 but has only documented about 12 cases of fraud.

Similarly, according to the Brennan Center for Justice’s Wendy Weiser and Harold Ekeh, “an exhaustive investigative journalism analysis of all known voter fraud cases identified only 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud from 2000 to 2012.” Billions of votes were cast during that period.

It is more likely that Trump is opposed to mail-in voting for a more basic reason — tossing out mailed ballots is likely to disenfranchise a large number of Democratic voters. Several polls have shown that Trump voters are likely to cast their ballot in person, while Biden voters are much more likely to vote by mail.

Mail delivery has slowed significantly in recent months, and many Democrats have accused the Trump administration of intentionally sabotaging the post office. Many postal workers are no longer allowed to work overtime, slowing the process of sorting and delivering the mail. And Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor, recently announced plans to reassign 23 post office executives and centralize power around himself.

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