Ignore Trump’s hypocritical vote-by-mail rants. Protecting voters from coronavirus won’t lead to fraud

An "I Voted" sticker included in a mail-in ballot package in Laguna Niguel, Calif., in 2018.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

California Republicans keep maiming themselves, taking positions directly opposite from where most voters stand.

The latest: They’re fighting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to send all registered voters mail ballots for the Nov. 3 election.

Why? Because President Trump rants against widespread mail voting, although he votes by mail himself. California Republicans — and too many Republicans everywhere — are Trump lemmings, following him blindly toward the autumn cliff.


Trump, with zilch evidence, claims that mail voting is rife with fraud. What he’s really afraid of is that it will help Democrats — and it well might. Mail-in ballots make it easier to vote — something all Americans should want — and Republicans typically vote regardless of the difficulty.

“If you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said of mail voting on “Fox and Friends” in early April.

Never mind that a month later, Republican Mike Garcia recaptured a U.S. House seat for the GOP in northeastern Los Angeles County in a special election with all of the votes cast by mail.

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting,” Trump has tweeted. “Tremendous potential for voter fraud and, for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

Trump might think he has first-hand knowledge of fraud.

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump originally tried to register to vote in Florida while citing the White House as his “legal residence.” That’s a no-no. Under Florida law, you have to be a legal resident of that state to vote there.

Later, the president reapplied and listed his Mar-a-Lago golf resort as his legal residence. Then he voted by mail in the Florida presidential primary.


The Republican Party — both nationally and in California — is suing Newsom, claiming he doesn’t have the constitutional authority to tamper with federal elections. They contend “inactive” voters — those who haven’t cast ballots in the last four years — shouldn’t receive one automatically by mail.

But the GOP opposition seems moot. The Legislature has plenty of authority to set election procedures. There are bills pending to send all registered voters mail ballots. And Friday, one of the authors, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), announced he’ll amend his measure to make sure only “active” voters are placed on the mail ballot list.

“Nobody, nobody, nobody has ever said, ‘Let’s mail ballots to inactive voters,’” Berman told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The California GOP’s waste-of-energy battling against the Democrats’ mail-ballot plans is merely the latest example of the party opposing what most state voters want. There’s a long list of controversial issues that has built up over the years: abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration, gun control, environmental protection, and so on.

It’s why the Republicans’ share of California voter registration has tumbled to 23.9% — roughly half the Democrats’ 45.3%. There now are more voters registered as “No Party Preference,” 25.1%, than Republicans. Only 16 years ago, Republicans were at 35.6%.

A new statewide poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California shows how far out of touch with voters the GOP is on mail ballots.


Those surveyed were asked what they thought of Newsom’s order to send vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters. Overall, 73% of likely voters thought it was a good idea.

By party, 94% of Democrats liked the plan, but 58% of Republicans considered it a bad idea. Among no-party independents, 63% favored it.

“The GOP is a circular firing squad in their assault on mail ballots,” says veteran Republican consultant Rob Stutzman. “Republican campaigns have historically done well with mail ballots. Fraud can be guarded against and has been.

“The U.S. Postal Service’s own data shows that younger voters, who are more likely to vote Democrat, are less likely to use the mail in their lives. It’s a foreign, 20th century medium to them. Republican voters are older and more likely to want an alternative to in-person voting during COVID-19 concerns.”

Stutzman adds: “What the antimail ballot push is really about is amplifying Trump’s deeply cynical and dangerous propaganda to try to delegitimize the election in the minds of millions of Americans.”

After Trump received fewer popular votes than Hillary Clinton in 2016 but won the presidency in the Electoral College, he claimed millions of people voted illegally. He created a commission to investigate. But he shut it down when the commission couldn’t find any evidence of fraud.


“Vote-by-mail has been a proven secure practice in California for many years, dating back to the Civil War,” Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla says.

“The president’s claim that mail voting is fraudulent is offensive to not just me, but election officials across California. But it comes as no surprise. He’s a hypocrite. He votes by mail.

“He’s really trying to set the stage for challenging any election results he may not like.”

Roughly two-thirds of all California ballots cast in the 2018 general election were mailed.

These are some fraud protections in place:

The voter must sign the envelope containing the ballot, and the signature is matched against the one on the registration file.

Before any vote is counted, the state database is checked to make sure the person isn’t voting twice.


Voter rolls are regularly purged of dead people.

This year, voters can sign up to track their ballot — as if it were a UPS package.

The best reason for voting by mail this year is to avoid precinct crowds where the coronavirus might spread.

Republicans should ignore Trump and step onto the side that’s healthy — personally and politically.