resident Trump is stepping up his attacks on the integrity of the election system, sowing doubts about the November vote at a time when the pandemic has upended normal balloting and as polls show former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. ahead by large margins.
Having yet to find an effective formula for undercutting Mr. Biden or to lure him into the kinds of culture war fights that the president prefers, Mr. Trump is training more of his fire on the political process in a way that appears intended to give him the option of raising doubts about the legitimacy of the outcome.
Promoting baseless questions about election fraud is nothing new for Mr. Trump. He has hopscotched from saying that President Barack Obama was elected with the help of dead voters to suggesting that undocumented immigrants were voting en masse to claiming that out-of-state voters were bused into New Hampshire in 2016.
But in recent days, Mr. Trump has focused intensive new attacks on voting by mail, as states grapple with the challenge of conducting elections in the middle of surging coronavirus cases in many parts of the country.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump declared, without offering any evidence, that the 2020 election “will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country, and we cannot let this happen.”
Mail-in ballots, he said, referring to conspiracy theories, could be stolen from carriers, counterfeited or forged by either forces inside the United States or by “foreign powers who don’t want to see Trump win.”
“There is tremendous evidence of fraud whenever you have mail-in ballots,” Mr. Trump claimed during an appearance in Arizona, a statement that has no basis in the experience of the states that give voters the option of voting by mail.
Mr. Trump has made five dozen false claims about mail balloting since April, as officials in various states began contemplating the need for expanded use of the option amid the pandemic….