Analysis: Trump Is Cravenly Weaponizing A Deadly Virus To Win In November
President Trump is exploiting the deadly coronavirus pandemic to help make sure he emerges victorious from the November election by capitalizing on Americans’ fears of voting in-person and doing everything in his power to ensure they can’t cast a mail-in ballot — or if they do, that their ballots don’t count.
- Washington Post reporter Robert McCartney noted on Monday that independent voting experts are increasingly concerned that Trump will block the counting of mail-in ballots.
- Meanwhile, election officials “are expecting an enormous increase in voting by mail...because people are afraid to go to the polls during a pandemic.”
- McCartney noted the counting process takes longer for mail-in ballots than for those cast in person.
So, on election night, initial returns based on in-person voting could show Trump winning, even though large numbers of mailed ballots remain uncounted.
At that point, the experts warn, Trump could declare himself the victor, saying the mailed ballots should be ignored because of the (baseless) risk of significant fraud. In states where Republicans control the voting process, he might get away with it.
- Trevor Potter, president of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, told McCartney, “It is possible that he will say, ‘We should stop counting ballots because all those absentee ballots are illegitimate.’”
“If his supporters believe that, it would be false but unfortunate in terms of the country accepting the credibility of the final election results,” said Potter, a former Republican-appointed chairman of the Federal Election Commission, who was general counsel for the presidential campaigns of the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).
- Likewise, Wendy Weiser, vice president of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, said, “It’s absolutely to be expected that most of the votes will be cast by mail… It’s really important that the public be educated beforehand about the facts of what’s going to occur.”
- However, educating the public is “just one of a daunting number of challenges facing state and local officials in what promises to be the most chaotic presidential election in our lifetimes,” McCartney noted.
- And Trump is working tirelessly to make sure that states do not have the resources they need to address those challenges. McCartney recalled that “Trump said Thursday that he opposes both election aid for states and an emergency bailout for the U.S. Postal Service because he wants to restrict how many Americans can vote by mail.”
- On a different but related front, mail delivery is experiencing a slowdown as Trump’s recently-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has cut back on overtime and pulled mail-sorting machines out of service.
- The USPS “has warned 46 states, including Maryland and Virginia, and D.C. that voters may be disenfranchised because it cannot deliver mailed ballots in time to meet counting deadlines.”
“I’m very concerned, as we have a historic confluence of dangers here,” Potter said. “We have massive absentee balloting in states that aren’t used to that. You have postal problems, when absentee balloting relies on that. You have a postmaster general who appears to be making it difficult to vote by mail. These are all issues, combined with the possibility that normal polling places may not be able to open [because of the pandemic] or may be moved.”
- While election officials are seeing a significant uptick in mail-in ballot requests, they are also having more difficulty staffing polling places — which means fewer voting locations could be open in November.
Fairfax County needed about 1,800 elections officers in the June primary, and about 600 dropped out late in the process, said John W. Farrell, a Fairfax attorney who specializes in election law.
“We’re going to need 3,200 to 3,600 in November,” Farrell said. “There’s a real question where we’re going to get the other several thousand people.”
“Every day that we operate, keep in mind that you’re increasing the odds that one of your elections judges is eventually going to say, ‘I’m sick, I’ve got covid,’ and then we have to quarantine that whole site,” David Garreis, president of the Maryland Association of Election Officials, told a meeting of the state Board of Elections last week.
If people can’t or are afraid to vote in person due to risk of infection and their votes won’t count via mail, Trump calculates that he can somehow get a contested result and bully his way to another term.