In the lead-up to the general election this November, Attorney General Bill Barr seems ready and willing to carry water for the president’s most outlandish conspiracy theories. In an interview that he did with NPR that was released this week, he claimed that mail-in voting could open the door to some kind of massive fraud — and when asked if he has any evidence supporting these claims, he admitted that he does not. But that didn’t stop Barr from repeating the mail-in voting conspiracy theory anyway! He and Trump and the others pushing the conspiracy of widespread mail-in voting fraud are trying to cast doubt on the integrity of U.S. elections.
Asked if he believes that mail-in voting can be trusted, Barr said:
‘Personally, no. I mean, we just mailed out checks under this program. And what is it? I heard something like 20 percent or something were misdirected. I know things can happen like that. Because I know people move, a very high percentage in the United States, people move all the time. And I also know that you can easily take things out of mailboxes. There’s so many occasions for fraud there that cannot be policed. I think it would be very bad. But one of the things I mentioned was the possibility of counterfeiting.’
Barr references problems with the Coronavirus relief checks program, but the evidence for these claims about supposed mail-in voting fraud is simply not there. Asked if he had any evidence, Barr admitted he does not, but called his claims “obvious.” In fact, they’re not. The mail has been used for many important tasks for long periods of time — in fact, five states already conduct their elections almost entirely via the mail, and in many other states, mail-in ballots are available as an option to voters across the board. According to one estimate cited by the Brennan Center, a full one in four votes were cast via the mail in the most recent two federal elections. Yet, there have been no reports of some kind of fraud in these elections. Officials use many security measures like signature verification surrounding mail-in voting, NBC notes.
Barr’s nonsense mirrors some of the president’s own most outlandish conspiracy theories. Just recently, he tweeted:
‘RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!’
RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2020
This claim has no relationship to reality, but nonsense like it and what Barr has been pushing could be used as justification for questioning the integrity of the election if Trump loses.
As Professor Michael McFaul put it:
‘I am very nervous that the United States , maybe for the first time in our history, will not be able to conduct a free and fair election in November, whose results all will accept. Trump just keeps adding to my worries.’
I am very nervous that the United States , maybe for the first time in our history, will not be able to conduct a free and fair election in November, whose results all will accept. Trump just keeps adding to my worries. https://t.co/clOXAvdWWF https://t.co/EZZyv4bApO
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) June 25, 2020
Trump and his allies have been freaking about mail-in voting amidst the president’s own sinking political prospects. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden consistently leads Trump in polls on the national level and in swing states around the country, including many states that Trump won in 2016.