In a contentious CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr pushed back on the host’s assertion that mail-in voting – done as it is currently on a very limited basis – is perfectly safe and generally lacking in the kind of fraud that President Trump and other Republicans have warned about.
“Wolf, this is sort of cheap talk to get around the fundamental problem, which is the bipartisan commission chaired by Jimmy Carter and James Baker said back in 2009 that mail-in voting is fraught with the risk of fraud and coercion,” Barr said.
“And since that time, there have been in the newspapers, in networks, academic studies saying it is open to fraud and coercion,” Barr continued. “The only time the narrative changed is after this administration came in. But elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion. For example, we indicted someone in Texas—1,700 ballots collected from people who could vote, he made them out and voted for the person he wanted to. That kind of thing happens with mail-in ballots.”
Blitzer interrupted to again say that “we haven’t seen” widespread fraud when it comes to absentee voting – a Democratic Party talking point that completely obscures the fact that we’re in a new realm this year. It’s almost apples to oranges to compare the level of mail-in voting we’ve had in years prior to the tsunami of absentee ballots that officials are expecting to see this year.
Barr said as much, arguing: “Well we haven’t had the kind of widespread use of mail in ballots as being proposed. We’ve had absentee ballots from people who request them from a specific address. Now what we’re talking about is mailing them to everyone on the voter list, when everyone knows those voter lists are inaccurate. People who should get them don’t get, which has been one of the major complaints in states that have tried this in municipal elections, and people who get them are not the right people, they’re people who have replaced the previous occupant, and they can make [the ballot] out and sometimes multiple ballots come to the same address with several generations of occupants.”
Asking Blitzer is that sounds like any “way to run a vote,” Barr said that America is asking for trouble.
“This is playing with fire,” Barr said. “We’re a very closely divided country here, and people have to have confidence in results of the election and the legitimacy of the government and people trying to change the rules to this methodology—which as a matter of logic is very open to fraud and coercion—is reckless and dangerous, and people are playing with fire.”
Indeed it is. Put that fraud potential together with the fact that we may not know the final results of the election for days or weeks, and you have all the ingredients for an explosive November. And after the year we’ve already had in this country, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.