“I haven’t looked into that” theory, Barr told The New York Times, but without citing any evidence said it was “one of the issues that I’m real worried about.”
“We’ve been talking about how, in terms of foreign influence, there are a number of foreign countries that could easily make counterfeit ballots, put names on them, send them in,” Barr said. “And it’d be very hard to sort out what’s happening.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., said that Barr’s claim was impossible since “mail ballots are bar-coded to prevent fraud.”
“Bill Barr is a liar. Our nation’s chief law enforcement officer is trying to burn down American democracy to prop up a corrupt impeached executive,” he tweeted. “Barr’s debasement of our justice system and his assaults on American democracy have been so relentless I’ve been calling for his impeachment and the revocation of his law licenses since last year.”
Voting experts agreed that Barr’s claim showed no understanding of how mail ballots work.
“Bless Bill Barr’s heart — this just couldn’t happen,” said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center of Justice Democracy Program at NYU School of Law. “In most states, your signature on the mail-ballot envelope is compared to the signature on file before a ballot is counted… And the reality is that the states that will be potentially decisive in 2020 all already allow no-excuse vote by mail.”
“It’s hard to see Barr’s comments as something other than laying the groundwork for casting doubt about the election after November,” Li added. “That’s why it’s important that we all push back.”
Though most states already allow anyone to vote by mail for any reason, Trump has fomented baseless conspiracy theories alleging that mail voting is rife with fraud. There is no data to suggest that there ever has been any significant fraud related to mail voting, or in-person voting either, for that matter. That hasn’t stopped Trump from blatantly lying and inventing hypothetical crimes, drawing a rare fact-check from Twitter. Last week, the president suggested that children might “raid the mailboxes” to steal ballots.
“Which is happening — they grab the ballots,” Trump said. “You don’t think that happens?”
No. It doesn’t happen.
“What we know can be boiled down to this: Voting fraud in the United States is rare, less rare is fraud using mail ballots,” Charles Stewart, en elections expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The New York Times.
“Election fraud in the United States is very rare, but the most common type of such fraud in the United States involves absentee ballots,” agreed Rick Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California, Irvine. “Sensible rules for handling of absentee ballots make sense, not only to minimize the risk of ballot tampering but to ensure that voters cast valid ballots.”
Barr’s conspiracy theory is likewise “pure BS,” argued Michael McDonald, an elections expert at the University of Florida.
“You can’t just print out a single ballot for the entire U.S. No two localities have the same ballot because local offices appearing on it are different,” he explained. “What if you want to target a single precinct, since district lines cut [across] cities and counties? You’d need to hijack a ballot and be able to mass print the ballot and two return envelopes (the return envelope and the inner privacy envelope).”
“It is easy for election officials to detect ham-handed attempts like making ballot copies,” McDonald added. “All the while, the post office, which works with election officials to process ballots, will have to be oblivious to fake ballots moving through their system. If someone dumps a bunch at a single location, that will be suspicious. Certainly if they are [coming from] overseas addresses.”
Despite the Trump administration’s attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail voting, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and Trump himself have all voted by mail. Trump has yet to point to a single example of widespread voter fraud, but has publicly complained that he thinks Republicans are likely to lose if voting is expanded.
“This all comes from fear by Trump and like Republicans that more people voting means more non-white voters,” Stuart Stevens, a Republican consultant who worked on Mitt Romney and George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, told HuffPost.
These attacks from the administration could backfire. Pennsylvania, for example, has seen more than twice as many requests for absentee ballots from Democrats than Republicans.
“I must tell you that locally, in my county, we’re not advocating and we’re not pushing the mail-in voting,” Lee Snover, the chair of the Northampton County Republican Party, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re concerned about fraud. We’re not happy with the process. Trump has sent the message out there that he’s concerned about it as well.”
The county is one of three in the state that flipped from Obama to Trump in 2016.
“Our county kind of is a Trump county. We’re kind of listening to Trump on this. He’s spoken about it. He’s tweeted about it. He doesn’t want us to do it,” Snover said, adding that “more than one person” has told her that “Trump doesn’t want us mailing in, [so] I’m not mailing it in.”
Early voting to be hit by heavy rain and flooding as Hurricane Zeta barrels towards the Gulf Coast
Hurricane Zeta is expected to make landfall near Louisiana's border with Mississippi on Wednesday evening as campaigns work to get supporters to the polls and convince any undecided voters to back their candidate.
"Hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are possible along portions of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and Storm Surge and Hurricane Watches are in effect," the National Hurricane Center warned.
"Between Tuesday night and Thursday, heavy rainfall is expected from portions of the central Gulf Coast into the southern Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic states near and in advance of Zeta. This rainfall will lead to flash, urban, small stream, and minor river flooding," the center explained.
Lincoln Project releases harrowing new video of the future if Trump wins re-election
The Lincoln Project, the group of former top GOP strategists seeking to beat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, released another new video on Monday evening.
Unlike other videos, the latest release did not feature Trump saying crazy things. Instead, it is more like a 60-second short film.
It features a mother listening to election night returns. She goes into her son's bedroom and lovingly awakens him.
"Hey honey, you asked me to wake you and tell you what happened in the election," she says.
"Who won?" the child asked.
"Trump," she replied. "Trump won."
Twitter again takes action against Trump for lying about mail-in ballots
On Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted yet another false claim about mail-in ballots, and implicitly called for throwing out any ballots that have not been received by November 3rd even if they were postmarked before that date.
Twitter took action against the president's false statement, hiding it behind a warning that it "might be misleading about how to participate in an election or another civic process."
The social network has previously limited other tweets from the president, including those giving false information about the COVID-19 pandemic and one that appeared to glorify the shooting of civil rights protesters.