White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday offered a head-scratching response when told there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud, contrary to President Donald Trump’s repeated suggestions otherwise.
Host Jake Tapper confronted Meadows on CNN’s “State of the Union” about the White House’s false claims regarding mail-in voting, pointing out that Trump himself requested a mail-in ballot this year.
“There’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud,” Tapper said.
“There’s no evidence that there’s not either,” Meadows responded. “That’s the definition of fraud, Jake.”
Several states have moved to expand mail-in voting amid growing concerns over in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has claimed without evidence that mail-in ballots will lead to a “rigged” election in November.
Meadows said that Trump has no issue with voters requesting absentee ballots but criticized states that automatically send ballots to every registered voter. Nine states and the District of Columbia do this, a practice known as “universal vote by mail.”
There have historically been more instances of fraud related to mail-in voting than to in-person voting, but the incidence of mail-in voter fraud is exceedingly rare, according to election experts.
Trump sued the battleground states of Nevada and Pennsylvania over their efforts to expand voting accessibility amid the pandemic. A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Thursday that the Trump campaign must produce evidence to back up its claims of mail-in voter fraud in the state. The Trump campaign so far has refused to do so.
Democrats have accused Trump of bashing mail-in voting and attempting to block funding for the U.S. Postal Service as an effort to undermine the integrity of the coming election and to boost his chances of remaining in the White House.
Trump on Thursday appeared to admit that he wanted to block funding for the Postal Service in an effort to hamper mail-in voting.
Concerns over the Trump administration’s apparent efforts to sabotage the Postal Service continued to build later in the week with reports that mail collection boxes and letter-sorting machines were removed in at least four states.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the Postal Service sent letters to 46 states warning that voters could be disenfranchised because their mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to make voting deadlines.
At least 19 mail-sorting machines in five Postal Service processing facilities were removed or are scheduled to be removed in the near future, Vice reported Wednesday. The Postal Service told Vice that the removals were in response to “changing mail and package volumes.”
Meadows told CNN Sunday that “no sorting machines” would be “going offline between now and the election.” He appeared to deny that some machines were deactivated recently.
Democrats have proposed $25 billion in additional funding for the Postal Service as part of the latest coronavirus economic stimulus package. Trump said he would agree to the funding if Democrats made concessions.
Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes told “Fox News Sunday” that payroll tax cuts — which critics say could gut Social Security and Medicare — are part of the concessions Democrats must make. But, he added, “there is no amount of money that could get the United States Postal Service ready for universal vote by mail.”
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place