Once again, the Trump administration has strongly endorsed no-excuse absentee voting – the form of voting that matters most this fall. This time the endorsement came from Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, whom Jake Tapper interviewed this Sunday. As usual, the statements came in the context of condemning “universal mail-in voting.” Over and over, the message of the administration and Trump campaign is: absentee voting (good), “universal mail-in voting” (bad).
As I’ve said before, I think journalists in these interviews should emphasize and lock down this endorsement of absentee voting. But Tapper ignores this endorsement, rushing past it to get to the areas of conflict. I understand that, but in this context, highlighting areas of widespread agreement is at least as important. The public needs to hear the message that there is no disagreement about the legitimacy of absentee voting – the dominant form vote-by-mail will take this fall.
Here’s the relevant excerpt from the transcript (highlighting is mine):
TAPPER: Why is President Trump trying to prevent Americans from exercising their right to vote, if they choose to vote this way, especially during a pandemic?
MEADOWS: Well, the president doesn’t have a problem with anybody voting by mail, if you would look at it in terms of maybe a no-excuse absentee ballot.
What he opposes is universal mail-in ballots, where you send millions of ballots out to registered voters across the country, even those that don’t request it.
You know, I have worked a number of times at a precinct, and I know how those rolls are not accurate. People move. People die. And yet, when we’re going to send out ballots all across the country, that’s not just the — asking for a disaster. It really is knowing that what you’re sending out is — is inaccurate.
So, that’s the problem he has with it. From a no-excuse absentee, being able to mail in your ballots, I think the president actually has already requested an absentee ballot for Florida, where he will be casting his ballot in that manner.
We want to make sure that every vote counts, but that only one vote counts. And so, when you look at that, this debate is really over a process. A number of states are now trying to figure out how they’re going to go to universal mail-in ballots. That’s a disaster, where we won’t know the election results on November 3, and we might not know it for months.