Trump slams mail-in balloting promoted by his own campaign

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President Donald Trump talks to reporters before departing the White House for a trip to Michigan, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday railed against mail-in balloting that in some cases has been promoted by his own reelection campaign, alleging without evidence that it leads to “total election fraud." A day earlier, Trump threatened to pull federal money for states that support the practice.

“We don’t want anyone to do mail-in ballots,” Trump told reporters before leaving for Michigan. That state drew the president's ire announcing this week it was sending ballot request forms to all voters to encourage safe voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump, who has voted by mail absentee as recently as this March in Florida's Republican presidential primary, did say he would support exceptions for those who are sick — or are president.

“Now, if somebody has to mail it in because they’re sick, or by the way because they live in the White House and they have to vote in Florida and they won’t be in Florida, but there’s a reason for it, that’s OK," Trump said.

“To really vote and without fraud,” Trump said later in Michigan, “you have to go to the polling place." He added of mail-in balloting, “Obviously there’s going to be fraud. We’re not babies.”

Trump was belittling a method of voting that his own campaign and its affiliates have been pushing voters to use to support GOP candidates.

In California, where mail voting is widespread, Trump Victory — the joint entity of the Republican National Committee and the president's reelection campaign — urged voters to cast ballots remotely for Mike Garcia, who won a special congressional election last week. It likewise pushed Wisconsin supporters to cast absentee ballots to support Tom Tiffany, who won a special congressional election in that state last week.

Republicans’ claims that mailing ballots to all voters creates widespread fraud are not backed up by evidence from the five states that use this method. None has had significant voter fraud cases.