Joe Biden warned supporters on Thursday that President Donald Trump will try to “indirectly steal” the upcoming general election by subverting the vote-by-mail process.
The former vice president, who has already assembled 600 election lawyers to fight election “chicanery,” made the claim during a virtual fundraiser with entertainment industry figures, hosted by former “VEEP” actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
“This president is going to try to indirectly steal the election by arguing that mail-in ballots don’t work,” Biden said, adding that Trump would likely argue ballots submitted by mail are either “not real” or “not fair.”
Biden’s comments come as progressive groups have begun mobilizing their core constituencies to vote-by-mail this election. Last week, the largest super PAC aligned with the Democrat Party announced it would invest $24 million in mobilizing black and Latino voters to vote-by-mail ahead of the upcoming general election. The Super PAC’s effort will target six battleground states–Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida–considered pivotal to Biden’s hopes of taking the White House.
Priorities USA’s announcement only further politicized the issue of vote-by-mail, which increasingly is a dividing line between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats favor the practice, arguing that it would be a safer alternative to in-person voting amid the concerns over the coronavirus. Republicans, on the other hand, claim widespread vote-by-mail could interfere with the integrity of the elections process.
“People take them where they force people to vote,” Trump told reporters when discussing the practice in late May. “They harvest. … They take many, many ballots, and they put them all together, and then they just dump them, and nobody has any idea whether they’re crooked or not.”
Apart from voter fraud, some Republicans are concerned that vote-by-mail could delay the reporting of results well after Election Day, creating political instability. Wisconsin recently indicated the possibility of this scenario when it took more than a month to count at least 30,000 outstanding mail-in ballots from the state’s April 3 Democrat presidential primary. Given such concerns, Republicans and conservative-leaning groups have begun suing state election officials for unilaterally imposing vote-by-mail.