AG Barr Tells Wolf Blitzer That Expanded Mail In Voting is “Reckless and Dangerous” (It’s Not) and Says Federal Law Enforcement Could Be Sent to Polling Places to Combat Criminal Threats (They Cannot)

Here’s the WaPo writeup of the CNN appearance:

Attorney General William P. Barr asserted Wednesday that mass mail-in voting was ripe for potential fraud and that it would be “reckless and dangerous” to convert to such a system in such a heated partisan climate.

Though Barr seemed to concede that there had not been widespread fraud associated with mail-in voting in the past, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in a testy exchange that was because the United States had not used the practice in a broad way.

“This is playing with fire,” Barr said. “We’re a very closely divided country here, and if people have to have confidence in the 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 correction, is reckless and dangerous, and people are playing with fire.”

Barr pointed to a report more than a decade ago from a commission led by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III, which noted the fraud risk with mail-in voting. He said news accounts and studies since that time had confirmed the risk, and added, “The only time the narrative changed is after this administration came in.”

In a statement earlier this year, the Carter Center noted that while the commission had found some risks associated with mail-in voting, it also found “little evidence of voter fraud” in places with appropriate safeguards, such as Oregon, which has voted by mail since 1998.

Blitzer noted that multiple states now vote entirely by mail, and there has been little evidence of widespread fraud. He suggested the coronavirus pandemic might call for special measures this year. Barr said polling places could make arrangements to protect people, and those at risk could request absentee ballots — rather than having states send ballots to all voters on their rolls, which means homes often get ballots for previous residents.

And on sending law enforcement to polling places (see 18 USC 592), here’s the clip and Steve Vladeck commentary:

UPDATE: The bar is on sending armed law enforcement personnel to the polls. Unarmed federal election observers have been allowed. But there are also federal laws against intimidation at the polls—the purpose of unarmed observers must be to facilitate the vote and not to intimidate voters.

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