President Donald Trump continues to rant and rave about the supposed potential for steep levels of fraud when mail-in voting is used at high rates. In reality, there’s no evidence for his claims of some kind of systematic threat to election legitimacy, but he’s carrying on anyway. This Saturday, at a press conference at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, Trump accused Democrats of “trying to steal this election” — which is just an utterly baseless accusation. As some have pointed out, though, Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories about supposed election security problems could be a ready-made excuse to deploy if Trump loses.
"Like in Nevada, it's such a disaster."
Trump says Nevada doesn't want to have signature verification.
Secretary of State's office tells me they do verify. More than 10k ballots rejected during primary.
— Debra J. Saunders (@debrajsaunders) August 8, 2020
Discussing the HEROES Act — a Coronavirus-connected economic relief package that the Democrat-led House passed over two months ago — Trump said:
‘Who would want a bill banning signature verification? What’s that all about? You know what it’s about — fraud. That’s what they want — fraud. They want to try and steal this election, cause frankly, it’s the only way they can win the election. The bill also requires all states to do universal mail-in balloting, which nobody is prepared for, regardless of whether or not they have the infrastructure. They want to steal an election — that’s all this is all about. They want to steal the election.’
Watch his comments below:
Trump is preemptively laying the groundwork to challenge the results of November's election by baselessly accusing the Democrats of promoting electoral fraud pic.twitter.com/qykQ4eXxkq
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 8, 2020
By all appearances, the HEROES Act would not actually require universal mail-in voting, as Trump claims. As a PolitiFact fact-check from this month explained, “Not only are state governors the only ones deciding how each state will vote, but the HEROES Act Pelosi is negotiating includes state funding for safe voting without any reference to mail-in voting.” The leap that Trump seems to be making is claiming that Democrats’ demand for increased access to voting means that states will be “forced” to conduct elections via the mail. Even if that was true — five states already conduct their elections almost entirely via the mail, and Trump’s suggestion that the infrastructure is not in place to expand mail-in voting elsewhere appears to be wrong. He’s seemingly pulling conspiracies out of thin air.
It’s not entirely clear where Trump got his apparent idea that Democrats want to eliminate signature verification for mail-in ballots. He might be trying to reference Democrats’ push to eliminate voter ID requirements for federal elections, but that’s not meant to increase fraud. It’s meant to ensure that people — including marginalized communities who might not have access to ID — can vote. There is no Democratic conspiracy to “steal” the election. Trump’s claim to that effect is nonsense.