″Hi, This is Donald Trump Jr.,” the president’s son says in the recorded phone message. “I’m calling on behalf of the Republican National Committee because my father, President Donald J. Trump ... has already made you an official absentee ballot request which may have already arrived or will soon arrive. President Trump is counting on you to make a plan to return your absentee ballot request.”
The elder Trump continually has railed that mail-in voting will be “rigged,” even though election officials ― including Republicans ― in states where the practice has been widespread consistently have disputed those claims. The president and first lady Melania Trump voted by mail in the Florida primary earlier this month.
He has also declared that this year’s election will be the “most corrupt” in U.S. history because of the expected surge in mail-in ballots by voters who want to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 at polling stations. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which his administration failed to stem, has claimed more than 180,000 lives in the nation.
Donald Trump Jr. insisted to Republican voters that mail-in balloting is secure.
“Voting absentee is a safe and secure way to guarantee your voice is heard,” he said in the robocall. “Help President Trump make America great again by joining him in being an absentee voter this year.”
Trump Jr.’s message began going out this week to 13 states targeted by his father’s campaign: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, Texas and Maine, according to Politico, which was the first to report the robocall.
Trump has attempted to make a distinction between “mail-in” ballots and “absentee” ballots, but in most jurisdictions they’re the same or part of the overall voting-by-mail system.
RNC spokesperson Mandi Merritt insisted to Politico that Trump Jr.’s robocall is “completely in line” with the president’s message — that “proper” mail-in absentee voting is safe, while Democrats aim to “implement widespread vote-by-mail with no safeguards.”
Critics accuse Trump of attacking mail-in balloting as part of his strategy to raise doubts about the electoral process. In the event he loses to Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump will likely challenge the result by claiming widespread fraud in the mail-in balloting process, the critics predict.
In the meantime, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — a prominent Trump campaign contributor — appears to be crippling the U.S. Postal Service operation ahead of the election by ripping out hundreds of mail-sorting machines and letter collection boxes, and eliminating overtime and extended mail deliveries.
As DeJoy began to undermine service, the USPS sent a letter to 46 states warning that voters could be disenfranchised because their mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to make vote deadlines.
The inspector general of the USPS has launched an investigation into Postal Service policy changes and potential ethics conflicts of DeJoy. The postmaster general has maintained a $30 million equity stake in his former company, XPO Logistics, a USPS contractor, which could conceivably partner with a competitor as DeJoy weakens the Postal Service.