Former President Jimmy Carter, whose career outside of government has included work on voting rights and election integrity, is pushing back after the Trump administration tried to cite his own past research in their campaign against mail-in voting. In a CNN interview, Attorney General Bill Barr himself pointed to a 2005 report from the Commission on Federal Election Reform, which Carter co-chaired, and which Barr claimed concluded that “mail-in voting is fraught with the risk of fraud and coercion.” In a Thursday statement, Carter insisted that he supports absentee ballots (which are, in terms of how they’re handled after a voter receives them, the same thing as “mail-in” ballots).
A press release from the Carter Center said that the former president’s statement was “[in] response to diverse news reports about his views on absentee ballots.” Carter said:
‘I approve the use of absentee ballots and have been using them for more than five years.’
The same press release noted that Carter “previously endorsed the use of mail in ballots in a May 6, 2020, statement elaborating on the findings of the 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform.” Essentially, as that earlier May statement outlines, Barr seems to be blatantly mischaracterizing the conclusions of that commission — and Carter is obviously in a position to speak with authority about the panel, since he co-chaired it. The commission concluded that mail-in voting “creates increased logistical challenges and the potential for vote fraud, especially if safeguards are lacking” (emphasis added), as the May press release outlined.
In the time since 2005, many safeguards for the mail-in voting process have been implemented. In 2016, almost one out of every four votes were cast via the mail, seriously undercutting the Trump team’s effort to characterize mail-in voting as some kind of dramatic new threat.
The May press release added:
‘[The] Carter-Baker Commission found that where safeguards for ballot integrity are in place – for example in Oregon, where the entire state has voted by mail since 1998 – there was little evidence of voter fraud. The commission’s main recommendations on vote-by-mail and absentee voting were to increase research on vote-by-mail (and early voting) and to eliminate the practice of allowing candidates or party workers to pick up and deliver absentee ballots.’
Trump’s consistent clamoring against mail-in voting might be rooted in his paranoia about the possibility of him losing if Americans make their voices heard.