White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has defended President Donald Trump’s increasing attacks on vote-by-mail in recent days. Over the past decade, however, McEnany has personally voted by mail in Florida at least 11 times. According to an investigation of voter records by the Tampa Bay Times, McEnany has voted by mail in every election since 2010.
Per that report:
[T]he Tampa native has voted by mail in every Florida election she has participated in since 2010, according to a Tampa Bay Times review of her voting history. Most recently, she voted by mail in the state’s March 2020 presidential primary, just as Trump did after he made Florida his new permanent home.
Just last week, McEnany defended the 45th president’s longstanding disdain for vote-by-mail during an evasive press conference in which she failed to account for her boss’s Twitter tirade over Michigan recently mailing absentee ballot applications to all eligible voters.
Trump had previously threatened to cut off all federal funding for the Wolverine State in response to the move. He blasted the decision as “illegal” as well as initially mischaracterizing the nature of what Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had done. After correcting the false tweet, Trump maintained the mailing was illegal.
“Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” the president wrote. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”
Pressed to account for what, exactly, was “illegal” about Michigan’s mail-in ballot application mailing, McEnany came up empty-handed.
She instead insisted the tweets were actually “meant to alert” federal officials about White House “concerns” over “potential” fraud.
“With regard to the illegality and legality of it, that’s a question for the campaign,” McEnany demurred.
Conservative movement outrage over alleged and ever-rare vote-by-mail “fraud” has ramped up over the past few months as many states–both Republican-administered and Democrat-administered–have sought to increase access to the franchise amidst the ongoing novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
California Governor Gavin Newsom (D)recently tossed kerosene on the fire with a recent decision to send mail-in ballots to all eligible California voters in order to allay pandemic-related concerns.
GOP organizations followed the president’s lead and sued California officials over the Memorial Day weekend–a filing that legal experts rubbished as both offensive to democracy and lacking in the merits.
“The core legal claim is that the U.S. Constitution makes moving to vote by mail a determination for the California legislature to make rather than the Governor,” civil rights attorney Sasha Samberg-Champion said of the effort. “I don’t think a federal court is likely to find that federal constitutional law has to much to say about the question of whether the Governor properly exercised the powers delegated to him under state law.”
Undeterred, committed and focused on the narrative, the White House has continued to misrepresent vote-by-mail generally and criticize California specifically.
“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” Trump said in a series of tweets posted Tuesday. “Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”
McEnany herself followed up her boss’s statements with lengthy Twitter thread assailing vote-by-mail as fundamentally prone to fraud and abuse:
🚨 Get the facts about mail-in ballots!
Will the media, and @Twitter, acknowledge these real concerns with mass mail-in voting?
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) May 26, 2020
And yes, McEnany has also falsely defended the president’s own use of vote-by-mail.
“With regard to the president doing a mail-in vote, the president is after all the president, which means he is here in Washington,” she said last week. “He’s unable to cast his vote down in Florida, his state of residence. So, for him that’s why he had to do a mail-in vote.”
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel noted that wasn’t actually true.
“Trump was in Palm Beach County, where he’s made his Mar-a-Lago Club his legal address for voting purposes, on March 7 and 8, the first weekend of early voting for the March 17 presidential primary,” reporter Anthony Man observed. “He didn’t leave until Monday morning March 9.”
In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, McEnany maintained that the media has failed to grasp the issue.
“Absentee voting has the word absent in it for a reason. It means you’re absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person,” she said. “President Trump is against the Democrat plan to politicize the coronavirus and expand mass mail-in voting without a reason, which has a high propensity for voter fraud. This is a simple distinction that the media fails to grasp.”
Media members were to note that the Tampa Bay Times pointed out that Florida doesn’t have “absentee voting.”
Florida does not have absentee voting. Everyone can vote by mail. This was addressed in the story she’s responding to.
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) May 27, 2020
[image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]
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