WASHINGTON — White House aide Kellyanne Conway — who, like her boss, the president, is falsely attacking voting by mail as prone to fraud — cast her own ballot by mail to vote in Bergen County, New Jersey, in the 2018 midterm election.
On Wednesday, Conway said voters should vote in person and compared it to the sacrifice involved in buying designer cupcakes.
“I mean, they wait in line for a Georgetown Cupcake for an hour, to get a cupcake,” she told reporters at the White House. “So, I think they can probably wait in line to do something as consequential and critical and constitutionally significant as cast their ballot.”
Yet Conway was apparently unwilling to make that time commitment herself on Nov. 6, 2018, when she voted by mail, according to the Bergen County supervisor of elections.
Conway, who with her husband continues to own a home in northern New Jersey, tried to draw a distinction between an absentee ballot and a mail ballot, although many states — including New Jersey ― have no such distinction and allow voters to cast ballots by mail without having to assert that they will be out of town.
“That’s called an absentee ballot. One completes it and posts it by U.S. Mail,” Conway wrote in response to a HuffPost query. “Don’t confuse it with a (non-absentee) ‘mail-in ballot’ to serve your purposes.”
Records from the New Jersey Division of Elections show that the 2018 midterm was the first election in which Conway voted by mail rather than in person. The records also indicate she failed to vote at all in the 2017 election, in which Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Republican Kim Guadagno to become governor.
White House officials generally have been repeating President Donald Trump’s claims that mail balloting is rife with fraud. “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” Trump wrote in a post this week that earned a first-ever fact check warning from Twitter. “Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”
But Trump himself voted by mail in the Florida presidential primary election in March, even though he drove right past an early voting location on March 7 and 8 on his way to and from playing golf. Instead, an RNC operative picked up his ballot for him on March 9 — an action that Trump and many Republicans have argued is an invitation to fraud.
The White House has refused to explain how Trump’s ballot got from Florida to the White House and then back to West Palm Beach on March 16, the day it was hand-delivered to the elections office.
The RNC has also declined to comment.
Trump’s claims notwithstanding, elections experts have found that voting by mail does not lead to significant voter fraud.
Trump, though, likely revealed his true reason for opposing mail voting in an interview with Fox News on March 30, when he explained why he opposed Democratic efforts to include an expansion of mail voting in the coronavirus relief legislation. “They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said.
“This all comes from fear by Trump and like Republicans that more people voting means more non-white voters,” said Stuart Stevens, a GOP consultant who worked on the campaigns of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. “Data doesn’t support that, but data doesn’t support hydroxychloroquine, either.”
Conway’s colleague in the White House, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, also voted by mail in Florida — and, in fact, has only voted by mail since she began voting at age 20 in 2008, according to Hillsborough County records.
“Trump, Kayleigh, and now Kellyanne. What a bunch of elitists,” said Joe Walsh, the former GOP congressman who unsuccessfully challenged Trump for the 2020 presidential nomination. “They get to vote by mail but they don’t want their voters to? Further proof that Trump et al can’t stand their supporters.”