John Pudner, executive director of Take Back Our Republic, told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight that President Donald Trump’s criticism of mail-in voting may unintentionally suppress his own turnout in November by dissuading Republican voters from using absentee ballots.
Pudner explained that there is a distinction between the long-standing practice of sending absentee ballots to voters who take the initiative to request them and the new proposal to mail out unsolicited ballots to every registered voter regardless of whether those voters are still eligible to vote in that jurisdiction.
“The President was right on to be concerned about Nevada suddenly announcing they were just going to mail ballots to everyone. That’s where you have real fraud risk,” he said. “The distinction I’d like people to make is the ‘no excuse’ absentee ballot, where it is two-steps, where someone has to say, ‘I want to vote absentee.’”
Pudner argued that it makes sense to make it easier for elderly voters and others who are concerned about the coronavirus to request an absentee ballot, but that is very different from the efforts of some governors to mail out ballots to everyone regardless of whether they requested it. Pudner said Trump has “a legitimate concern” about voter fraud in that instance. But the lack of distinction between encouraging voters to request an absentee ballot and the rhetoric discouraging state officials from mailing out unsolicited ballots has caused confusion among Republican voters.
“Here’s the problem,” he explained. “A lot of average voters are hearing — when they listen to the president and supporters of President Trump — they’re hearing, ‘Mail voting is fraudulent.'”
“What I’m hearing from Pennsylvania and North Carolina and [other] places is, ‘Republicans can’t get people to mail ballots in this year, because all they’ve heard is it’s fraudulent and they’re mishearing what [Trump] is saying to think, ‘My vote may not count if it’s mailed in,'” Pudner said.
“Trump did much better in 2016 than Romney in 2012 in early voting,” Pudner noted. “That was one of the first times a lot of us thought, ‘Oh, he may win this.’ The margins were so much better for him on early mail-in voting than they had been for Romney. Now it’s gone the other direction. Democrats are requesting absentee ballots, mail-in ballots, by a more than two-to-one margin in Pennsylvania over Republicans, and that puts you at a huge disadvantage by election day.”
Elderly voters who are concerned about voting at polling stations because of the coronavirus may abstain from voting by absentee ballot if they think mail-in ballots won’t count, Pudner warned.
“The unintended consequence is there a lot of older voters [Trump] won big — he won Florida seniors by 17 points last time — you start having one-in-five of them not mail in and be scared to go to the poll on election day, I mean, Hillary would’ve won Florida,” Pudner said. “The big concern is the unintended consequence of what he’s saying.”
Pudner said that efforts to secure absentee balloting from fraud should be encouraged, such as requiring signature verification and an additional witness’ signature. He also noted the potential of voter fraud with in-person voting, due lack of voter-identification laws in some states and political efforts to eliminate such laws nationwide.
“You can argue in a lot of cases there is more threat of fraud in person,” stated Pudner. “Consider for a second that there is no ID required in Nevada, Minnesota, New Mexico. There’s actually no voter ID required in North Carolina or Pennsylvania because federal judges have stopped that going into effect.”
Pudner continued, “If you do go and cast your legitimate vote, keep in mind these votes are going electronically over to places like Barcelona to be counted. So I would first say there’s a lot of securing to do on the in-person voting. This isn’t just mail voting to be fraudulent. I actually think the bigger threat is in-person [voting] — both electronically and with the lack of voter ID in some key places.”
He noted the recent case in Philadelphia of an election official who pleaded guilty to illegally adding votes for Democratic judicial candidates. According to the U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, the election official was guilty of “fraudulently stuffed the ballot box by literally standing in a voting booth and voting over and over, as fast as he could, while he thought the coast was clear.”
Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern or 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific.