Attorney General Bill Barr floated another conspiracy theory late last week about mail-in voting ballots, claiming that the method lacks confidentiality which somehow makes the process susceptible to any number of nefarious plots to steal the election. In a wide-ranging interview with the Chicago Tribune published last Friday that is now garnering widespread attention, Barr doubled-down on the Trump administration’s attacks on mail-in voting—a practice that has existed since the Civil War. The attorney general did so not by citing to facts, or statistics, or past precedent, but by rattling off a series of hypothetical scenarios seemingly made up on the spot.
“Just think about the way we vote now. You have a precinct, your name is on a list, you go in and say who you are, you go behind a curtain, no one is allowed to go in there to influence you, and no one can tell how you voted. All of that is gone with mail-in voting,” Barr told the Tribune’s John Kass after giving a series of broadcast interviews from the federal building in Chicago. “There’s no secret vote. You have to associate the envelope in the mailing and the name of who’s sending it in, with the ballot.”
Despite being wrong about the confidentiality of mail-in voting ballots, which are signed and sealed before being placed in the mailing envelope, the attorney general then offered several apocryphal examples as to how the mail-in systems would inevitably be corrupted.
“There’s no more secret vote with mail-in vote. A secret vote prevents selling and buying votes. So now we’re back in the business of selling and buying votes. Capricious distribution of ballots means (ballot) harvesting, undue influence, outright coercion, paying off a postman, here’s a few hundred dollars, give me some of your ballots,” the attorney general said.
He didn’t offer evidence to support his theories. Within the last few weeks, for example, Barr cited “logic” when warning of a foreign threat to manipulate mail-in ballots. He acknowledged that he did not have evidence to support that.
It is notable, however, that one recent example of a postman altering mail-in ballot request forms changed the party from Democrat to Republican. Thomas Cooper, who claimed he did this as a “joke,” pleaded guilty to attempted election fraud.
Josh Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky who specializes in election law, said Barr’s claims to the Tribune were “wild, fanciful, and completely false lies.”
The Attorney General of the United States is peddling wild, fanciful, and completely false lies about the voting process.
This is beyond unprofessional. https://t.co/0NHWIbZ5GU
— Josh Douglas (@JoshuaADouglas) September 15, 2020
After floating a hypothetical about a postal worker committing a felony for the equivalent of a few days’ pay, Barr shifted his attention to the left.
“You know liberals project,” Barr said. “All this bullshit about how the president is going to stay in office and seize power? I’ve never heard of any of that crap. I mean, I’m the attorney general. I would think I would have heard about it. They are projecting.”
President Donald Trump has publicly said on several occasions that he won’t lose the November election unless the election is rigged and marred by fraud, raising questions in the op-ed pages and otherwise about whether he would accept the election results if it comes to that.
During a Tuesday morning interview on Fox & Friends, Trump said the only way he could lose in Nevada is if Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) rigged the ballots.
“I’m winning that state easily but the one thing we can’t beat, if they cheat on the ballots,” Trump said, adding, “Now he will cheat on the ballots, I have no doubt about it.”
He made similar comments recently to supporters in Wisconsin as well.
“They are creating an incendiary situation where there will be loss of confidence in the vote,” Barr said of Democrats. “Someone will say the president just won Nevada. ‘Oh, wait a minute! We just discovered 100,000 ballots! Every vote will be counted!’ Yeah, but we don’t know where these freaking votes came from.”
[image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]]
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