I haven’t seen anyone use the phrase “War on Mail” to describe what Donald Trump is doing right now in respect to mail in voting, but considering that conservatives have referred to a so called “War on Christmas” launched by liberals, I figured “War on Mail” might catch on. If it does, I want this Cake post to get the credit!
Anyways, if you haven’t been following this story, Donald Trump is casting doubt on the electoral process for the 2020 U.S. elections, specifically mail in voting. Due to the pandemic, a larger number of voters are expected to vote by mail than on average. This means voting by mail is going to be an essential part of how the 2020 election is going to be run.
Donald Trump seems to feel that voting by mail will lead to widespread fraud, but there’s not a lot of data, if any, to support these claims. When you mail in your ballot, you have to sign your name, which is supposed to match your signature on file. It would be very hard to forge a vote by mail.
There’s a more valid concern about votes not getting counted on time due to an influx of mail, but once again, since the inauguration isn’t until January and we’ve had contested elections that were decided well beyond election day (e.g. Gore vs. Bush), this concern also seems to not carry much weight. States have rules about when votes need to be post-marked by and as long as your vote is post-marked by the designated time, your ballot will count.
Then, there’s the final concern that not all the votes will get counted and that some ballots will get lost in the mail, never to be heard from again. Of all the concerns out there, this is the most valid since it is conceivable and likely that an increase in mail will lead to a higher percentage of ballots getting lost. States do need to have effective strategies in place to handle the influx of mail, but they have plenty of time to do so. Also, voters can track their ballots and make sure they got received and counted.
Per CalVoter.org, the leading reasons for votes by mail not counting are because they arrive too late (post-marked after the designated time), the voter forgot to sign the mail ballot envelope, or their signature did not sufficiently match the signature they had on file. None of these are reasons to worry about mail in voting and if anything, these are reasons to feel more confident in the process. There is a vetting process.
As for the political side of this, Trump’s strategy seems to revolve around casting doubt in the vote by mail process: That it’s ripe for fraud, that votes aren’t going to get counted, and that people should be able to vote the old-fashioned way at the booth if they want. If he loses, he can cry afoul and say he was done in by the fraudulent mail in voting process.
Ironically, if Trump does lose the election, mail in voting could do him in. But not for the reasons he’s been listing. What could do him in is a lower Republican voting turnout due to a higher percentage of Republican voters not trusting the vote by mail process and thus not voting at all. Perhaps hoping the election won’t count anyways and that Trump will get his way? On the flip side, there’s a much higher percentage of Democrats who not only are comfortable voting by mail, but actually prefer it.
In a recent article on FiveThirtyEight, it was stated that 78% of Trump supporters see mail in voting as vulnerable to a significant amount of fraud despite the data suggesting otherwise. The article also said that 79 percent of Republican voters preferred to vote in person whereas 51 percent of Democrat voters prefer to vote by mail. The article also added that this could lead to Trump claiming premature victory on election night before being overtaken by mail in voters in the coming days after the election. Maybe that’s his strategy?
At any rate, it does seem as though Trump’s strategy to discredit voting by mail will backfire on him and potentially the Republican party as a whole. That’s why many Republicans are saying he needs to trust the process and take a chill pill. All this talk of delaying the election (which he can’t do) and curbing voting by mail by executive action (which he also can’t do), only digs Trump into a deeper hole. A hole that he very well may not be able to dig himself out of.