Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Exclusive: Trump stokes fears of election-night mail voting fraud

President Trump raised new alarms about the alleged danger of election fraud in an interview with "Axios on HBO," warning that "lots of things can happen" with voting by mail if the presidential race isn't decided on election night.

Why it matters: Trump's comments — which contradict the lengthy history and widespread use of mail-in voting — could be a preview of the claims he'll make on election night to undermine trust in the results if he appears to be losing.


  • Election experts say there's a good chance that the presidential race won't be decided on election night, and could drag on for days, because so many people will vote by mail to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
  • One expert's scenario suggests that the early returns could favor Trump because most Republicans will vote in person, but that the later returns will swing toward Joe Biden because many Democrats will vote by mail.

Driving the news: In the interview with Axios' Jonathan Swan, Trump continued his campaign of raising doubts about voting by mail — which he has done repeatedly on Twitter and in public comments — but amplified it by tying it to the prospect of a lengthy election count.

  • "You know, you could have a case where this election won't be decided on the evening of Nov. 3. This election could be decided two months later," Trump said.
  • The use of voting by mail is a problem, he said, because "lots of things will happen during that period of time. Especially when you have tight margins. Lots of things can happen. There's never been anything like this."
  • He said voting by mail will be "massively bigger" this year, "in terms of the kind of millions and millions of ballots. I've never seen anything like this."

Context: The interview took place last Tuesday, before Trump's tweet suggesting that the election should be delayed (an idea GOP leaders immediately shot down.)

Reality check: It is true that voting by mail is likely to expand significantly because of the pandemic. But voting by mail itself dates back to the Civil War, and 1 in 4 Americans have used it in the last three federal elections, per the Brennan Center.

  • Fraud has been rare, the center reports, with Oregon — a state that votes primarily by mail — documenting only about a dozen cases of fraud out of more than 100 million ballots since 2000.
  • Both parties use mail-in voter drives, and Republicans are worried that Trump's attempts to generate fear about voting by mail could depress turnout among older GOP voters — since some may not want to risk voting in person during the pandemic.

Between the lines: Trump's technique is to make it sound like states are randomly mailing out ballots for anyone to fill out. "So they're going to send tens of millions of ballots to California, all over the place. Who's gonna get 'em?" he asked in the interview.

  • "Somebody got a ballot for a dog. Somebody got a ballot for something else. You got millions of ballots going. Nobody even knows where they're going," Trump said.
  • In reality, states aren't just randomly mailing out ballots that anyone can fill out. Most states require voters to apply for mail-in ballots, according to election law expert Rick Hasen.
  • The exceptions are the states that vote primarily by mail — Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Hawaii — and California, which will start mailing ballots to voters this year because of the pandemic.

States that allow mail-in voting generally have a wide variety of security measures, like making people request ballots with personal information (like a driver's license number), unique bar codes on ballot envelopes, ballot tracking, and secure drop-off locations.

  • Trump's California comment is likely a reference to the new state law that will require county officials to mail ballots to every voter for the first time this year.
  • But Sam Mahood, press secretary for California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, says the state has plenty of anti-fraud measures in place, like verifying voters' identities and checking death and felony records. He said all mail ballot envelopes have bar codes, and local jurisdictions use different types of paper and watermarks for their ballots.

4 ffp

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories