This month, he has repeatedly claimed that 80 million unsolicited ballots are on the way to voters across the country who did not request them, and further suggested that there is no way to track mail ballots or know who is getting them.
Since the beginning of September alone, the president has mentioned these 80 million ballots at least 20 times, according to the website Factba.se, which tracks every word spoken or tweeted by Trump and other politicians. Although the rhetoric varies slightly from time to time, this claim has become part of his regular arsenal.
During a meeting in Nevada over the weekend, he said, “They’re sending 80 million votes. Where are they going? Who are they sending them to?”
Earlier this week, he tweeted: “Sending out 80 million ballots to people who do not even ask for a ballot is unfair and a total scam.”
And in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity the day before, Trump said “we are sending 80 million votes. And they are unsolicited.”
Facts first: While some sources estimate that there will be about 80 million votes sent by mail this year, the president is wrong in suggesting that they are all somehow unsolicited. In 41 out of 50 states, voters have to cast their ballots by ballot. Post before sending one, where only a handful of states automatically send postal ballots to all registered voters.
It is possible that the president got the number from an article in the New York Times in August, which states that experts predict “about 80 million postal votes will flood polling stations in the fall.” However, not all of these ballots will be the result of voters receiving unsolicited ballots in the mail.
For this election, 35 states, approx. 2/3 of the country, voters have the opportunity to vote absent either because of coronavirus or without an apology. In six states, voters still have to give an acceptable excuse, which does not include the pandemic, to be able to vote in the mail. These mail-in ballot papers, which form part of the estimated total of 80 million, are not unsolicited.
What the president is likely to refer to when he expresses concern about unsolicited votes are the nine states where each registered voter will receive a vote in the mail for the upcoming election. However, five of these states have primarily held their elections per. Post the page before the pandemic so voters who register in these states do so, knowing that they are likely to send their vote by post. Mail. Of those nine states, two – California and Vermont – are implementing this practice for the first time, so it is possible that voters registered earlier this year did not know they would be sent a vote on whether they wanted one.
These nine states and Washington, DC, which also sends ballots directly, account for over 43 million voters as of mid-August. The five places that changed their policy for this election to send ballot papers to all voters – DC, California, Vermont, Nevada and New Jersey – have at least 29 million registered voters according to the latest available number. Based on these data, the number of truly unsolicited ballots is at most about half of what the president claims, and probably even less.
It is also worth noting that even in unsolicited cases, states have safeguards in place to prevent the kind of fraud that Trump suggests will result from the expected increase in voting by this election.