President Donald Trump on Monday repeated a conspiracy theory first floated by Attorney General William Barr last month, claiming that an increase in mail-in voting this November would inevitably result in foreign interference in the presidential election.
“RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” the president tweeted in all caps.
He followed up on that a couple of hours later, comparing the voting challenges presented by a global pandemic to those overcome during World Wars I and II.
“Because of MAIL-IN BALLOTS, 2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nation’s history – unless this stupidity is ended. We voted during World War One & World War Two with no problem, but now they are using Covid in order to cheat by using Mail-Ins!” he said.
The unsubstantiated notion that foreign governments are capable of rigging an election by printing fraudulent ballots appears to be part of a larger effort by Trump and his GOP allies to oppose mail-in voting expansion, ostensibly to suppress voter turnout in the upcoming election. The president admitted during a March interview with Fox & Friends that attempts to increase mail-in voting would lead to “levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected again in this country.”
Bill Barr, who first “casually floated” the theory of foreign fraudulent ballots in an interview with the New York Times in May, also returned to the idea during an interview on FOX News’s Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.
Barr claimed, again without evidence, that mail-in voting “opens the floodgates to fraud.”
“There’s no — right now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot,” Barr said. “So, I think it can — it can upset and undercut the confidence in the integrity of our elections. If anything, we should tighten them up right now.”
As previously reported by Law&Crime, attorney and elections expert Michael Li went to great lengths to debunk this idea, pointing out that U.S. elections maintain several safeguards to prevent against exactly his kind of tampering. For example, envelopes for all mail-in ballots have unique bar codes that are scanned when the ballots are received, and signatures from mail-in ballots have to match signatures already on file. Those measures make any large-scale counterfeiting endeavor extremely difficult, if not impossible.
In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Patricia Siegel, a handwriting expert and forensic document examiner, similarly said Barr’s “floodgates” theory was essentially nonsense.
“It’s my evaluation — according to my own sense of probability, which comes out of my experience — that it’s highly unlikely that it would be done in a mass scale,” Siegel said of Barr’s wide-scale fraud theory.
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.]
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